Global Communication, 5th Edition by Thomas L. McPhail, Steven Phipps





Fifth Edition

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Notes on Contributors

Junhao Hong received a PhD in communication from University of Texas at Austin, US in 1995. Currently, he is a professor at the Department of Communication, State University of New York at Buffalo. He is also an associate in research of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University, and a senior fellow of the Center for Communication and Sustainable Social Change at University of Massachusetts‐Amherst. He has served as president of Chinese Communication Association (CCA) and president of United Societies of Chinese Studies (USCS). His research areas include international communication, media and society, and impact of new communication/information technology, with a focus on China and Asia. He has published/edited several books and published more than 130 research articles in various refereed journals and book volumes.

Lawrence Pintak is an award‐winning journalist and scholar who has written about America's complex relationship with Islam since 1980. He has been called the foremost chronicler of the interaction between Arab and Western media. Pintak is the author of America& Islam: Soundbites, Suicide Bombs, and the Road to Donald Trump and five other books on the intersection of media, perception, and U.S. policy toward the Muslim world; Arab journalism; and coverage of Islam. A former CBS News Middle East correspondent, Pintak was the founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University (2009–2016) and is a Senior Fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council. He is a frequent contributor to publications such as Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, Axios, and other media outlets. He holds a PhD in Islamic Studies.


After September 11, 2001, the peaceful satisfaction of many nations that began with the end of the Cold War and the demise of communism came to an early and abrupt end, foreshadowing the rise of a new enemy: global terrorism. Along with this new elusive enemy came new wars and a profound increase in global communication. From embedded journalists with videophones covering the wars, to new media outlets such as Al Jazeera, Al‐Arabiya, and Al‐Hurra, to photos being sent home and around the world on the Internet, the role and scope of international media shifted dramatically. This fifth edition captures the major aspects of this new and in many cases disturbing era, updates the materials contained in earlier editions, and includes new chapters on the importance of the media scenes in Europe, the Arab world, and China and Asia.

This book portrays international communication from differing perspectives – it examines a number of major trends, stakeholders, and global activities, while promoting no particular philosophical or ideological school, whether of the left or the right. Rather, it seeks to provide information about major international trends of a theoretical, cultural, economic, public policy, or foreign relations nature. Moreover, in order to provide a framework for understanding the interconnection between the international communication environment and the global economy, Global Communication documents major historical events that connect the two. It also highlights communication industry mergers, acquisitions, and the rise of social media that frequently transcend national boundaries.

Just as the printing press and the assembly line were necessary events for the industrial revolution, so also the Internet and modern communication technologies are essential for the international communication revolution. This book traces the influence and roles of major global communication technologies such as satellites, videophones, streaming services, and personal computers, as well as iPads. Collectively, these and other technologies have transformed the international communication environment, making possible the advent of global media systems such as CNN (Cable News Network), MTV (Music Television), the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), and the Internet.

As part of the background needed to examine global media and related sectors, it is important to understand the history of the international communication debate, which developed initially within the halls of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This debate about the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) is important because it identified two significantly different philosophies, each supported by a different set of scholars and nations. Because the debate reflects much of the concern about the philosophical, cultural, and artistic threats that are of paramount concern to many nation‐states, the phenomenon of “electronic colonialism” – the impact and influence of Hollywood feature films and television, plus other media from industrial nations – is also detailed. One large and vocal group supports a free‐press perspective without regard to its economic and cultural consequences; the other group supports a more interventionist approach, calling on governments and other organizations to be concerned with essentially non‐commercial dimensions of the international communication environment. Because of the roles each group plays, the policy positions, agencies, and leaders on both sides of the debate are examined extensively. Several new major global stakeholders, including the significant role of the global advertising industry, are also detailed.

A second major theme of the book concerns the economic implications of international communication. Although the economies of the international communications industries cannot be separated from governmental and cultural policy debates, it is important to recognize that most communication organizations are independent, active, commercial, and aggressive players in the international communication arena. They have global influence and they affect the communication environment both at home and abroad. As such, attention is also given to communication enterprises such as the Hollywood feature film industry; media giants such as Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, Bertelsmann, Sony, and News Corporation; as well as the Internet, international wire services, such as the Associated Press and Reuters, and several multinational advertising agencies. As will be demonstrated, some of these organizations appear to be oblivious to the global policy debate and are willing to let the marketplace alone determine the winners and losers, whereas others are very concerned about the non‐economic aspects of “trade”, such as culture, emerging from international communication.

All major global multimedia conglomerates are based in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Most of the concern about cultural issues emanates from nations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Therefore, a world‐system theory perspective is outlined in Chapter 1 to decipher some of the structural cleavages in the international communication field. Throughout this book, electronic colonialism and world system theories are identified as a crucial part of the discussion and analysis concerning global stakeholders in the communication sector. These two theories help unify the various stakeholders as well as identify their collective impact on globalization.

Any book about international communication would be deficient if it examined only one of these two major themes. A review focused solely on NWICO without mention of CNN or the BBC, for example, would ignore the contemporary reality and economic aspects of global communication. Similarly, a book that emphasized the Internet and other new communication options and opportunities to the exclusion of the philosophical debate would fail to provide the necessary historical and cultural perspectives. To a surprising extent, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union have shifted the debate in favor of the trade‐focused parties. Only by detailing major themes and examining their interrelationships may a student of international communication come to understand the complexities of the global communication scene and the implications of the rapid change in global communication landscape that continues on a daily basis worldwide.

We should not underestimate the nature and depth of the transformation taking place in global communication. The era of the Enlightenment (c. 1600–1800) contributed to the intellectual transformation of Western societies, and so today we are going through a similarly profound alteration in our societies, fuelled by the major structural changes in global communication, primarily the Internet. Just as the major contributors to the Enlightenment era were Francis Bacon, John Locke, Adam Smith, Jean‐Jacques Rousseau, Sir Isaac Newton, Catherine the Great, and others, so also today we have a critical mass of change agents who are forming the intellectual nucleus to create a new type of society with their profound insights and innovations. People such as Marshall McLuhan, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Charles Saatchi, Tim Berners‐Lee, Margaret Whitman, Carol Bartz, Jim Balsillie, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, and others are collectively providing the intellectual architecture and means to transform and create a new information era. Hundreds more working in their homes, laboratories, or universities in various nations around the world have contributed to the ongoing revolution in international communication. Yet few of these individuals responsible for creating a new media framework or paradigm have truly understood the long‐run ramifications of their contributions on the type of society we will have in 50 years’ time. In all likelihood, our future society will be dramatically different from the industrial society of even a mere 75 years ago at the end of World War II. For example, it is estimated that by 2020 the global movie industry revenue will exceed $50 billion; the three leading ticket sales are China, India, and the United States.

It is important to keep in mind that this intellectual transformation is not limited to economics, politics, trade, or education; rather, it will affect all of these areas as well as transform our concept of self and of community. Yet one major problem with this transformation is appearing already: this new society changed by the media is located only in select parts of the globe, primarily in those core nations that have already benefited from the previous industrial era. This overall intellectual transformation is occurring at the same time a large number of poor nations are still attempting to come to grips with enormous social problems ranging from illiteracy, poverty, subjugation, famine, civil wars, and poor health, particularly HIV/AIDS. As we move forward into a new era transformed by global media, one might also consider dichotomies created by the reality of a relatively small cluster of nations with full access to the Internet, digital television, and wireless telephony, and, at the other extreme millions of people on the other side of the “digital divide” who have yet to make a phone call, or read a newspaper, or use a PC “mouse.” One cannot be certain how parts of a world so intrinsically linked to media will interact with the vast numbers of individuals who so far have lived without it; we will be watching closely.


I would like to thank my friends who tested the materials and provided useful feedback and suggestions. I also want to thank Brenda McPhail for her assistance, patience, and feedback. I also want to thank Rebecca and Ryan McPhail for keeping me abreast of the significance of new media, blogging, YouTube, MTV, and the latest in technologies. I also thank Steven Phipps for his fine co‐authorship. Finally, I want to thank my students who survived earlier drafts of the new materials.

Thomas L. McPhail

About the Companion Website

This book is accompanied by a companion website:



The website includes the following supplementary material for instructors:

  • Test Banks
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