The context of international journalism education has changed now at the "end of history," Francis Fukuyama's catchy hyperbole for the global triumph of capitalism and democracy.1 The venerable - and these days, 1956 does qualify as venerable - categorization of four press theories (communist, authoritarian, libertarian, social responsibility) by Siebert, Peterson and Schramm2 has receded toward irrelevance. If you buy into Fukuyama's analysis, capitalism and democracy provide not just the most viable, but the inevitable, direction fo national and global evolution. That means that of the press theories identified by Siebert et al., the only ones worth thinking about are the "libertarian" and the "social responsibility," which are variations on a single theme: a "free" press in a capitalist, democratic context.
After the Berlin Wall fell, the United States and other Western countries sent trainers imbued with the values, as well as the techniques, of Western-style journalism charging into the former Soviet bloc to show the now discredited journalists there how it's done. In 1990, a Gannett Foundation report provided a selective inventory of organizations besides itself that had sent aid to media in Central and Eastern Europe. These included the U.S. Information Agency, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Voice of America, Charter 77, the German Marshall Fund, the International Federation of Newspaper Publishers, the Soros Foundation, Reuters, Internews, the Myers Foundation of Australia, UNESCO, Trans-Atlantic Dialogue on European Broadcasting, the Center for War, Peace, and the News Media, and others.3 That list could be expanded to include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the BBC, the European Journalism Centre, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, just to name a few.
The dominant Western approach to journalism training has emerged triumphant, while earlier efforts in some official venues, particularly UNESCO in the 1970s and 1980s, to come up with an alternative-- "development journalism"-for the Third World have come to naught. The debate over the so-called New World Information and Communication Order had been oversimplified in the West as a confrontation between advocates of a "free" press and a governmentcontrolled press. Even recent treatments of development journalism cast it primarily as a tool of totalitarian regimes,4 which, in its implementation, it clearly was. For the most part, development journalism was either a prop for authoritarian governments or utterly ineffectual wherever it was tried. Unfortunately, efforts to conceptualize a more directed system of "development news" to promote economic and political evolution in the Third World as an alternative to the "objective," but more fragmented and sensational, approach of Western news agencies also foundered. Agencies such as UPI, AP and Reuters had been widely viewed in the developing world not only as instruments of Western hegemony, but as purveyors of froth and violence, information of no use in the daunting task of nation-building. But, by 1990, the NWICO and "development" news were rendered moribund in the wake of disintegrating European Communism and the increasing marginalization of great portions of the Third World, particularly in Africa. News agencies formed in the Third World and nonaligned countries as purveyors of "development news" had failed, mainly, in the view of their critics, because participating countries supplied stories perceived elsewhere as propaganda.5 Support melted away.
That left the dominant Western journalistic paradigm, which had evolved out of a capitalist economic system working within a "free" political environment, as the last man standing.
The Western journalistic Paradigm
The summary word for describing the dominant paradigm of Western journalism is "objectivity," the notion that the presentation of facts about the world should be as value-free as possible. …