The form and content of journalism and mass communication education outside the United States are undoubtedly as varied as the number of countries out there. It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to get a clear sense of why, what, and how journalism and mass communication programs around the world have been set up and run the way they do. The scant information and knowledge we have suggest that their structure and processes, not to mention the historical origin, can reasonably be expected to follow the interplay among political, social, cultural, and economic factors within and outside a particular country's geographical domain.
To survey all the journalism and mass communication programs available on the face of the globe. therefore, is to undertake a daunting and perhaps futile project. There is arguably no compelling theoretical or practical need to do so. To compare programs across time (now and then) and space (here and there), however, is a different matter. There are epistemological and pedagogical reasons to look at the "range of vision" that may be manifest in journalism and mass communication education in cross-national settings. Only through comparison can we better understand the spirit and practices of such education in a world that has increasingly been made smaller by the flow of resources and technologies between regions and among nations. This special issue, albeit limited in scope, represents a modest attempt toward that goal.
The interest in journalism and mass communication education around the world has always been visible in the United States in both the academic and political communities. First in the Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (formerly Journalism Quarterly) in the early years and later in Journalism & Mass Communication Educator (formerly Journalism Educator), numerous articles were published on journalism and mass communication education in a number of countries, ranging from small to big and covering a wide variety of geopolitical and sociocultural spectrum. They provided useful and informative glimpse into the many shapes and sizes of the world's journalism and mass communication education programs.
Judging from the manuscripts submitted to this journal and other published reports, since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 and the former Soviet Union in 1991, and amid the worldwide democratization phenomenon, the past few years have witnessed significant changes in the quantity and quality of journalism and mass communication education around the world. New programs have emerged in countries where there was none before and existing programs have been expanded to keep up with the pace of time or to take advantage of the newfound freedom and opportunity. The political interest in journalism and mass communication education outside the United States is rooted in the belief that professional training in skills and knowledge will prepare future and working journalists in other countries to do a better job, which in turn will help forge the foundation for an open and free society that would best serve the American interests abroad. In one way or another, the five articles in this special issue have something to offer in that each tackles within a comparative context a larger problem in journalism and mass communication education at the international level that is often missing in many previous descriptive studies.
It should be pointed out that these five articles by no means offer a representative picture of the total reality. Any inclusion from the world's rich pool of journalism and mass communication programs is bound to be delimited by, or biased toward, what is available in the selection process. Readers will certainly notice that countries in such regions as Latin America, Middle East and Southeast Asia are conspicuously absent. Their exclusion was in part by default due to lack of submission and in part by design as a result of the review process. …