A Philippine Case Study of Conflicting Models in Mass Communication Education
Shafer, Richard, Maslog, Crispin C., Suva, Madeline, Journal of Development Communication
Development journalism is one international media model that has been touted as an alternative and perhaps reaction to the traditional Western model that most often assumes private or corporate ownership and is primarily supported by advertising. Reporters, editors and broadcasters adhering to the Western journalism model can be expected to endorse some degree of objectivity that assumes their job is to present the facts and to let the reader, listener or viewer reach his or her own conclusions and interpretations of the news and information they are providing. News is thus viewed as a commodity and beyond the idealism of working journalists. A primary goal of news production and dissemination is marketing and profits.
'A field of development communication as a field of study and practice is development journalism. This new genre of journalism is about reporting and interpreting the news from a development perspective. It refers to both the contents of journalism (development) and the process of reporting, which is different from traditional, or conventional, journalism.'
That the Western model continues to dominate worldwide and to be recognised by the United Nations as the primary journalism model to be propagated in developing countries is evidenced by the 2007 UNESCO model journalism curricula, which fails to mention development journalism or any other alternative journalism models in defending and advocating for the new Western-based model they propose. By this omission of a discussion of alternative and interventionist press models, it is apparent that UNESCO is an unreserved advocate for the Western model, although developing nations such as the Philippines are determined, as this study suggests, to explore and support alternative models such as development journalism as a tool for nation building and mobilising the population to achieve development and economic well-being.
Despite high idealism and intensive promotion by its designers and advocates, the development communication model has yet to prove successful at winning widespread endorsement by working journalists in either developed or underdeveloped nations that usually command the largest audiences. Development communication has in some cases been imposed on professional journalists with backgrounds in relatively independent commercial media. Once they become accustomed and proficient regarding Western news conventions and newsroom culture, they are likely to resent conceding the kind of professional empowerment, independence and sense of control of the news and information they gather. In the past, initiatives for the promotion of development journalism have tended to be top-down and often clumsy in implementation. The model suffers from the fact that its origins are in universities or foundations, rather than in newsrooms or professional journalistic organisations.
Perhaps because of the intransigence of Philippine journalists to adopt development journalism, supporters of the model in Philippine development communication programmes are moving away from promoting it as a substitute for the Western model. Rather they are focusing on training development communicators for careers outside of professional and commercial journalism, and concentrate on the model's roots in agricultural extension and other forms of non-profit communication. Still contemporary development communication students show a propensity to see their development communication training as a path to launch communication careers that pay better than non-profit organisation and government jobs do. Thus, they may be less idealistic regarding national development than their instructors are.
As might be observed, the definition of Development Communication has remained in flux and problematic since its inception and is notably abstract with regard to its application to professional journalism. Is development journalism actually "journalism" as most professional practitioners know it, or is it an interventionist arm of government or other forces for "development" that may or may not have the best interest of the society in mind? Since this problem has remained unresolved and in some ways contentious, this study seeks to determine the current attitudes of development communication educators regarding the link between Development communication and traditional journalism.
This study compares Philippine university-level journalism education based on development communication with programmes based on the Western journalism model. It integrates historical analysis of the two contending journalism models with findings of in depth interviews of journalism and development communication faculty at two major Philippine universities devoted to the development communication model, and two universities maintaining allegiance to the traditional Western model that has dominated in the major Philippines urban centers, particularly in Cebu and Metro Manila, since the beginning of the American colonial era in 1898.
Nineteen interviews were carried out in 2009 and 2010 by two of the authors. The interview schedule (format) can be found at the end of the article. The interviews were necessarily semi-structured and informal because the three authors of the article have all served on faculties at three of the universities included in the study--teaching courses based on both the Western and Development communication models. Thus, although the researchers cannot claim to be wholly objective as interviewers, they have the advantage of familiarity with the educational systems as well as the curriculum content at these universities. The interviews were conducted at two Philippine universities with communication programmes focused on development communication (UPLB College of Development Communication and Benguet State University Department of Development communication) and at two universities committed to traditional or western-style journalism education (Silliman University College of Mass Communication and the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Mass Communication). These interviews allow comparison of attitudes and opinions of faculty aligned with the two contending journalism education models. The emphasis of the interviews was on determining how these educators viewed media as a tool for social change and development. Semi-structured questions focused on the current viability of these two contending models of journalism education and practice.
Historical Background of Development Communication
Any discussion of the history of development communication must necessarily deal with the evolution of the concept of development. The early Western scholars on development and the role of communication in the process were Daniel Lerner and Wilbur Schramm. American sociologist Daniel Lerner was the author of The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernising the Middle East (1958), a study of Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey "that provided the first comprehensive statement of the role of mass communication in the process of modernisation for postcolonial countries." Lerner's research found a relationship: increasing urbanisation led to the growth of mass media and literacy, which in turn resulted in greater public participation in economic activity and politics. Lerner maintained that mass communication was the key factor in helping traditional societies to become modern. He theorised that the mass media were important catalysts of the modernisation process.
Schramm, sometimes referred to as the "father of communication studies" in the United States, was especially influential for his 1964 book, Mass Media and National Development, which explained the link between the spread of communication and socio-economic development. More recently, American communication scholar Everett Rogers (1976) delivered an influential paper on this subject, "Communication and Development: The Passing of the Dominant Paradigm," in which he talked about a paradigm shift from the 1950s to the 1960s. Rogers described the Dominant Paradigm of Development that "ruled intellectual definitions and discussions of development and guided national development programmes" during those two decades, and even later. He discussed the major academic and historical influences on the old concept of development.
The old paradigm, he said, "stressed economic growth through industrialisation as the key to development." At the heart of industrialisation were technology and capital, which substituted for labour. In short, the old paradigm implied that poverty was equivalent to underdevelopment. The measures of growth were increases in gross national produce and per capita income. It was not until the 1970s that the measure of growth expanded to include equality of distribution.
The dominant paradigm sought to explain the transition from traditional to modern societies. The developed nations of the West were taken as the ideal toward which the developing societies should aspire. Western models of development assumed that the main causes of underdevelopment lay within the underdeveloped nation rather than external to it. The dominant paradigm put the blame for underdevelopment on the developing nations rather than on the developed countries, or even jointly on both parties.
In the 1970s several world events combined with the intellectual criticisms to crack the dominant paradigm, according to Rogers. They were the ecological disgust with environment pollution in developed countries, the world oil crisis, the sudden opening of relations with China, and the realisation that development was not going very well in developing countries that had followed the dominant paradigm. From these events grew Rogers' conclusion that there are many …
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Publication information: Article title: A Philippine Case Study of Conflicting Models in Mass Communication Education. Contributors: Shafer, Richard - Author, Maslog, Crispin C. - Author, Suva, Madeline - Author. Journal title: Journal of Development Communication. Volume: 21. Issue: 2 Publication date: December 2010. Page number: 25+. © 2009 Asian Institute for Development Communication (AIDCOM). COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
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