Strategies in International Broadcasting: A Grounded Analysis of Communication Values Across Cultures
Swartz, Brecken Chinn
Cai, Deborah A.
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This dissertation is a cross-cultural examination of strategic communication values that drive journalistic decision-making. Several issues are addressed: 1) developing tools to engage in systematic producer-centered qualitative media research across cultures , 2) testing a comprehensive grounded category scheme to characterize media producers' strategic presentational values, 3) broadening discussion of the influence of culture on media decision-making by moving beyond national culture and looking also at age, gender, organization, and level of training, 4) working methodologically with a three-tiered inductive approach to structure analysis of interview data, and 5) examining the utility of these qualitative tools cross-culturally by testing the framework with both Western and Chinese international broadcasters. Fifty American, British, and Chinese international feature reporters were interviewed at the Voice of America, the BBC World Service, and state-run Chinese international broadcast agencies (China Central Television, China Radio International, and the Xinhua News Agency) to identify patterns in their journalistic decision-making. Journalists completed semi-structured interviews along with a freelisting task and a selection task to further characterize their strategic presentational values within simulated free and constrained contexts. This study moves beyond classical gatekeeping research to propose a set of ten strategic communication categories (aesthetics, breadth, convenience, depth, emotionality, freshness, germaneness, helpfulness, incisiveness, and justice) that facilitate discussion of content and presentational style beyond the yes/no of story selection based on newsworthiness criteria. The gatekeeping paradigm is extended by comparing the complex decisions driving the production of mediated messages to the multi-faceted process of preparing food for the consumption of others, as both are strategic endeavors that profoundly affect the wellbeing of individuals and communities. This research provides a new direction to debates on cross-cultural differences in mass communication. Data in this study reveal a notable pattern for Chinese journalists (both in China and in the West) to emphasize the value of justice in their responses, although data suggest that Chinese journalists tend to equate this value with complete objectivity and neutrality in contrast with Western journalists' tendency to consider issues of broader social justice. Developments in modern international propaganda broadcasting are also explored.