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IAMCR Congress in Stockholm (Sweden)

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					IAMCR Congress in Stockholm (Sweden) 21-25 July 2008 Research abstracts

Button-less on the Information Superhighway: Issues of Ideological Horizons in Environment Communication Amongst Communities at Fish Landing Sites Along Lake Victoria in Uganda. Linda Nassanga Goretti Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda The paper addresses issues of ideological horizons in relation to the information superhighway as they affect environment communication with special focus on grassroots communities at fish landing sites along Lake Victoria in Uganda. While in the ‘button society’ a lot of information is accessible at the press of a button, say on the internet, the most that the button-less grassroots societies have to contend with is a simple radio switch. With such a continuum of ideological horizons, both communities cannot interpret environment management concerns in the same way. Based on the findings from a formative evaluation survey for a situation analysis done as part of a research project that sought to find Behavioral Change Communication strategies that can be used to empower grassroots communities to adopt good environment management practices, the paper highlights several ideological horizons issues and how they influence environment communication. As conceptual framework, the Paper is guided by Stuart Hall’s Encoding and Decoding symmetrical framework, whereby the degree of symmetry of the codes between the encoder and decoder will determine the effect or to what use the message is put to. The ‘meaning’ or decoded message should be transposed into practice or consciousness. With the current state of environment degradation of Lake Victoria, it is no longer adequate to strive to increase public awareness only on environmental issues, but it is also critical to influence populations in high risk areas like those at fish landing sites. It is therefore important to carry out communication research to find out how Behavioral Change Communication (BCC) can be used to empower grassroots communities to adopt good environment management practices. As a way forward, practical suggestions are given in a bid to empower the communities to participate more in managing their environment sustainably.

Social Marketing in the Non-Profit Development Sector: Participatory Communication? Lynnette M. Fourie School of Communication Studies, North-West University, South Africa The role of the non-profit sector in developing societies regarding social development is growing. The contribution of the non-profit sector, especially non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations (CBOs) are mainly two fold. Firstly NGOs and CBOs as representatives of communities can act as activists, identifying pertinent issues and problems within communities. Secondly NGOs and CBOs, especially in the welfare sector, are instrumental in the deployment and implementation of development programmes. Given the growing importance of the non-profit sector, it is understandable that NGOs and CBOs are also placing more emphasis on their communication function. However, they do not always fully understand the complexity and diversity of the communication required from them. A NGO/CBO needs to communicate with different stakeholders, including potential donors, government and communities. Each of these stakeholders requires different communication strategies. One of the biggest challenges facing NGOs/CBOs are funding, whether from government or independent national or international donors. In practice this means that NGOs/CBOs in the same sector also sometimes compete for funding amongst one another. This has especially highlighted the importance of communication, as it is often the better known, or more high profile NGOs that receive more funding. Inevitably the non-profit sector also joined the branding-bandwagon and started to position themselves within the “non-profit industry”. Within this context, with focus on branding and positioning, it is understandable that the concept of social marketing has become popular in the non-profit sector. Where non-profits are specifically engaging with potential donors, this approach is functional. The emphasis on funding often means that the strategy of social marketing also informs the communication strategies with the other stakeholders, including developing communities. It is however, debatable whether social marketing is the most appropriate communication strategy when communicating with developing communities. Participatory communication is currently the normative approach when engaging with developing communities. Despite ambiguities regarding what exactly participations entail, as well practical problems in the implementation of the participatory approach, it seems as if participatory development communication is more sustainable than the modernisation approach was. The main premise of social marketing as vehicle for development is that a lifestyle could be changed by means of marketing strategies. This could be problematic in that social marketing, with its roots in marketing as it is deployed in the profit sector, could focus more on a top-down communication rather than participatory communication strategy. Within this context the use of social marketing strategies to communicate to developing communities and manage development programmes can be questioned. It is against this background that the following research question is posed: To what extend is social marketing compatible with the participatory communication approach to development? This paper proposes a theoretical analysis of social marketing and the participatory approach to development communication in order to determine whether social marketing could indeed be seen as participatory, and therefore an appropriate communication strategy to communicate with developing communities.

Border radio: Prospective roles in strengthening the relationship between Thailand and Laos Weerapong Polnigongit Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand The research aims at employing the participatory international communication concept to find out whether the notion can be applied to the context of Thailand and Laos. The research employs the structured interview (personal interview), in-depth interview, and panel meeting techniques with radio practitioners who run community and local radio in Nong Khai Province, Thailand; and delegates from Laos. The Province is located geographically opposite Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, the site of first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. The radio signals at the borders can be received in Laos. The research finds that the “Twin radio” initiative project by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in association with the Thai Government Public Relations Department and Lao National Radio could not be implemented. More effort was needed from both. However, the respondents agree that border radio can play an important role in promoting Thai-Lao culture exclusive of political aspects. The Laotian delegates also acknowledge the potential of participating in the project subject to more precise principles agreed by both sides. The notion of participatory communication for development faces difficulties in application of international communication, particularly in the Thailand and Laos context. The difficulties stem from the distrust and differences in presuppositions on both sides, which might be influenced by the different governance of the countries. Even so, they enjoy good relations in the cultural perspective as they are nearly identical. Laotian and Thai people come and join together many cultural activities such as regatta on the Mekhong River. Although the language used by Thai and Laotian people who live along the border usually has no need for translation, there are some phrases sensitive to the relations. For instance, the Thai language phrase Ban Pee Muang Nong, which can be directly translated as ‘elder sibling home’ and ‘younger sibling town’, has been spoken by Thai people unconsciously and consciously. The phrase in some respects represents Thailand as a ‘big brother’. Some Laotians question why they are the younger brother/sister. The phrase was suggested to avoid in Thai border radio. Despite such difficulties, the border radio plays a crucial role in economic and educational arenas for both countries. The Thai border radio stations broadcast advertisements of Laotian products such as Laotian magazines and of Thai products targeted at the Laotian consumer. Lao radio transmits the programs in the Lao language and French. The latter more or less are used by Thai schools for teaching French. It is challenging for Thai and Lao governments to engage the notion of participatory international communication for promoting Thai-Lao relations. Facilitating factors in the notion such as dialogue and knowledge sharing should be employed. The border radio will thus not only play a role in strengthening relations, but also in the development of both countries.

When negativity goes local: political advertising in three local elections in México Julio Juárez-Gámiz UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico Political advertising research has been scarce in Latin American countries, particularly in México where advertising cost represents around 80% of political parties’ campaign expenditure every federal election. Even in those few cases where political advertising is content analyzed attention is mainly given to presidential campaigns. Nevertheless, there are 32 States in Mexico each celebrating gubernatorial elections every six years on a nonaligned electoral calendar. Recently, there have been strong indicators that local elections are shifting into a spree of negative advertising. State elections have to comply with federal laws prohibiting calumny, however none knows for sure how to define this concept in light of the nature of democratic campaigns. The threshold for negative advertising has been legally set and yet negativity remains a subjective concept. More important is the fact that gubernatorial campaigns reflect a wide range of local political cultures since social and demographic conditions vary significantly across México. The study focuses on three recent gubernatorial races in geographically and demographically contrasting states such as Baja California (2007) in the northern border with the United States; Yucatán (2007) in the Southern Peninsula; and Mexico City (2006), the country’s capital. Each of these states has its own political background. Yucatán saw the right-wing Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) governor defeated in 2007 by the centrist Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). It was the opposite case in Baja California where the PAN’s candidate narrowly beat the PRI’s candidate and by doing so extended the uninterrupted control of the state since 1989. As for Mexico City, the candidate of the left-wing Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) won a new term extending the uninterrupted control of the country’s capital since 1997. All these campaigns were widely covered by local and national media. They were consistently labeled as highly negative and a sign of a ‘new’ form of “black campaigning” in local politics. The paper sets out to explore the content characteristics of these campaigns’ political advertising comparing between political parties and states. Among our hypothesis is that negative attacks are more frequent where competition is tight, and that the tone and style of such attacks varies depending on candidate’s personal and professional background, party affiliation, polling preferences and local issues dominating the campaign. Furthermore, the paper suggests that negativism cannot be defined without taking into account the context in which an election occurs. Media concepts such as “black campaigns” are not only ambiguous but they also neglect the true essence of political campaigns which is to frame issues in order to differentiate one candidate from its competitors. The paper concludes that ‘sanitizing’ political campaigns might turn political contests into a self-referencing exercise that does little to serve voter’s information needs.

Participatory Communication in Brazil: The Case of the Journalism in the Analogue and Digital Medium Luciana Mielniczuk & Suzana Barbosa Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria-RS and Federal University of Bahia Salvador-BA, Brazil A historical route allows locating the roots of the participatory journalism in Brazil. In this paper, it is verified that the concern to bring nearer the sender and receiver poles as well as listening to those who lack voice means respect to a growing process all along the second half of the twentieth century. At that time, the existence of a popular communication, also named as relating to the community, participative, dialogic and horizontal was discussed. The presence of religious movements and the concern about the poor classes as well as with those chased because of political ideas is perceived. They were movements separated from the mass media of reference or from the traditional mass media. The relation of interactivity established in the analogue media took place in a limited way, both because of the own technological infrastructure and because of the centralization of the power of authorship concentrated in the hands of the own media or of the organizations promoting the medium (such as the case of the churches and trades unions or parties). The development of the Internet, the emergence of new practices in the journalism and the availability of technological tools of an easier use describe meaningful changes in relation with the interactive resources of the users with the mass media. Thus, having a look at some decades earlier, in order to understand better the present time, it is perceived that in the digital journalism or cyberjournalism, the participation of the citizens – readers, users or interagents – in the process of production of contents really consolidates the interactivity. It is one of the characteristics that contribute to a qualitative breakage in relation with the traditional forms: press, radio, TV. The digitalization, the incorporation of the Internet as a social practice, including there the journalism, contributed to the emergence of the current participatory journalism, named also open source journalism, which in the information and online society, gives the user the role of protagonist: either as informative sources of the cyber-media, that is, as collaborators, or also as authors, preparing own publications which although they are not journalistic, they are the source of a journalistic interest (from business Web pages or some of their sections, publications with a quite definite political commitment and also individual manifestations of different nature through blogs, among others). Although the shadows caused by the great quota of digital excluded are big, mainly in the context of countries of the third world, such as the case of Brazil, it is noticeable in the communicative scenery of the 21st century with the Internet as paradigm in the world communication, the increasing participation of the one-time passive reader and/or spectator, as well as the widening of the channels and spaces to support the contents produced by him/her. In the beginnings of the 21st century, it seems that we will manage to answer with better conditions to the worries pointed out in the last 50 years.


				
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