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Growth 1972 - 1988

Buenos Aires 1972 was not only the first conference which IAMCR held in Latin America, it also signaled a new beginning of cooperation with Unesco –at a time which in the history of mass communication research might be named a “social turn”, signifying the stage when a young field becomes conscious of itself and actively involved in social policy. Unesco’s role in Buenos Aires was crucial as it paid the travel costs of the 12 members of its panel on communication research (which held its second meeting there on the eve of the conference). But there were also many others who found the means to travel to Argentina at the time, including Dusiska and Schiller.

According to Bourquin’s last presidential letter, the Buenos Aires conference in September 1972, under the theme “Communication and Development”, was attended by some fifty IAMCR members in addition to “an important South American and Argentinean participation”. Elections resulted in Halloran as President and Dusiska as Secretary General. Nordenstreng and Schiller were elected Vice Presidents, in addition to four others who had held office in the earlier years. A sign of the times was the establishment of a new Section for research on media and developing countries. Alfred Opubor of Nigeria was elected head of this Section, while Annette Suffert of France was appointed to head another new Section on television studies.

From 1973 on we can follow IAMCR developments in Halloran’s presidential letters coming from the Centre for Mass Communication Research at the University of Leicester, where the Secretariat was effectively moved from Bourquin’s office in Lausanne. However, the Association’s bank account remained for a few more years in Lausanne where the membership fees were paid in Swiss Francs. Halloran’s mimeographed letters followed the same familiar tone established by Bourquin, and they became longer and longer, reporting in detail the organization’s events and plans but also who he had met and who had contacted the IAMCR President. This networking established “Jim Halloran” as a man known by hundreds of colleagues around the world and made Leicester a focal point in the field, with Peggy Gray as the President’s right hand in administrative matters.

Secretary General Dusiska at his Leipzig office remained somewhat in the background but cooperated effectively with the President. Dusiska hosted in Leipzig the first meeting of the Executive Committee during Halloran’s time at the end of May 1973. At this time a thorough debate took place about the past, present and future of the Association –see Halloran’s summary. On specific matters “it was decided to give priority to the question of publications and investigate the possibility of launching a Journal for the Association and/or establishing a co-operative working relationship with new or existing Journals”. The Executive Committee welcomed the offer to organize the next biennial conference in Leipzig, employing the large institutional resources which Secretary General Dusiska had at the Karl-Marx University with the backing of the East German authorities. Leipzig established the tradition of holding successive conferences in the hemispheres of East, West and South.

The Leipzig conference, 17-21 September 1974, had a general theme “Mass Communication and Social Consciousness in a Changing World” with four sub-themes approaching mass media from angles that were topical at the time: economics, participation, socialization, and developing nations. Over 60 papers were presented and all papers together with the keynote addresses were printed by the Leipzig host in a multilingual book of two volumes. The conference had a record attendance of 250 delegates from 31 countries. They included again the Unesco panel members who were scheduled to meet prior to the conference, “and this meant that several prominent communication researchers –from places as far afield as Colombia and Singapore, Canada and Lebanon –were able to attend our proceedings because Unesco met their not inconsiderable travelling expenses”, as reported in the presidential letter. The close co-operation with Unesco was handled in practice by John Willings, the acting chief of the Division of Communication Research and Planning, which had been established within the Sector of Communication (under Pierre Navaux).

President Halloran praised this conference in his “Dear Friends and Colleagues” letter of December 1974 as follows: “To me, one of the most encouraging features was to be found in the number of new faces at Leipzig. For an Association like ours it is good to have the continued support and loyalty of old friends, but it is also absolutely essential to attract and keep the interest of new and younger researchers. The future depends on this”. He also noted that the conference “offered many of the participants their first opportunity for discussing research policies, aims, theories, methods, results, and the application of results with fellow researchers whose basic assumptions, aims, purposes policies, strategies, and social and political environments are quite different from their own”. On the whole, Halloran could be satisfied with the first two years of his Presidency: “…the signs augured well for our future progress. Membership was increasing, enquiries were coming in from all over the world, an effective co-operative working relationship had been established with Unesco at several levels, and possibilities for co-operation were being explored with other international bodies such as the International Communication Association, the Association for Education in Journalism, and the International Sociological Association”. In his earlier presidential letter of February 1974 Halloran had also mentioned good relationships with the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).

In the area of publications President Halloran reported in December 1974 that: “…for the time being, it had been decided not to proceed with the idea of regularly publishing an official journal of the Association. Fortunately, one or two related journals have agreed to carry information about our plans and activities, and these served us well in the past year. We now learn that Unesco is willing to subsidize the publication of an IAMCR Monograph which, in addition to containing articles and an extended bibliography on a selected theme appropriate to our field of interest, will include two other sections…” This became a book of 130 pages, published on the eve of the next conference in 1976 as Mass Media and Socialization: International Bibliography and Different Perspectives (edited by Halloran and printed in Leeds), and it contained two substantive articles on media and socialization (by a British and a Soviet author), with an extensive international bibliography on the topic, compiled by Pisarek. In addition, it had Halloran’s profile of IAMCR and Nordenstreng’s presentation of an emerging global system of documentation and information centres for mass communication research.

The General Assembly in Leipzig did not change the officers elected in Buenos Aires, but a need to change the Statutes was confirmed, and a committee was appointed to prepare a proposal for the next conference in two years’ time. This, it was decided, would take place in Leicester with a title taken from Unesco’s International Programme: “Mass Media and Man’s View of Society”. In the General Assembly debate George Gerbner pointed out “the sexist interpretation of ‘Man’s View’” and this reminder led to the inclusion of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann as additional member of the next conference planning committee comprised of Halloran, Dusiska, Nordenstreng and Schiller. This was the first time that gender issues were put on the record in IAMCR proceedings.

The Leicester conference took place from 30 August to 3 September 1976. In the words of its report prepared by a team of four rapporteurs (Alice Bunzlova of Czechoslovakia, Michael Gurevitch of USA, Hans Kepplinger of FRG, Robin Mcron of UK), it “was attended by more than three hundred people from forty different countries. This made it the best ever attended meeting in the history of the Association… The conference was supported by a grant from Unesco which inter alia made it possible for young scholars and members from the third world to be better represented than had been the case in the past.”

The programme was divided into four main themes: the first on the state-of-the-art in communication research addressed by Lothar Bisky (GDR), George Gerbner (USA) and Peter Golding (UK); the second on structures and contexts of media production addressed by Stuart Hall (Jamaica/UK), Michael Tracey (UK) and John Pollock (USA); the third on media influence addressed by Neville Jayaweera (Sri Lanka/WACC), N. Mansurov (USSR) and Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (FRG); and the fourth on media and international understanding addressed by Luis Beltran (Colombia/Canada), Phil Harris (UK), Al Hester (USA) and Frank Ugboajah (Nigeria). Discussants included names such as Jay Blumler, Theodore Glasser, Jan Ekecrantz, Cees Hamelink, Elihu Katz, Ramona Rush and Percy Tannenbaum.

In addition to the plenary sessions, workshops were convened around specific topics and projects, including Cultural Indicators, Women and Mass Media, Media/cultural Imperialism, Ethical Problems in Mass Communication, and Communication and Community (an eight-nation project contracted by Unesco to IAMCR). These as well as Section meetings facilitated the presentation of tens of individual papers. Most of the proceedings raised highly topical issues, making the Leicester conference a timely platform for intellectual exchanges. Indeed, this conference offeed a panorama of mass communication research which no historian of the field should miss. The Leicester conference was also remarkable because of the adoption of resolutions on the need for international communication policies in the service of democratic development and for the support for the universal right to communicate.

Leicester 1976 was a landmark in the organizational history of IAMCR, since the Statutes were revised, following recommendations by the committee appointed in Leipzig, and elections were held according to the new structure whereby there was an Executive Board composed of the officers as before, but this was supervised by a large International Council which included both ordinary members and the heads of Sections. The composition of the Executive Board remained more or less the same as that elected in Buenos Aires, while the International Council became a combination of representatives who were deliberately worldwide in their coverage. The slate for elections was adopted by the General Assembly as Halloran proposed it; his proposal was prepared behind the scenes during the conference days by Nordenstreng, who tried to achieve a balanced representation not only in terms of geopolitics but also of scholarly generations as well as gender. Accordingly, he brought to the list seven women, including Nelly de Camargo of Brazil, Anita Werner of Norway and Gertrude Robinson of Canada. Robinson’s entry pushed out Dallas Smythe, who had been a Bureau member since Constance 1970.

After Leicester, IAMCR published another book with the support of Unesco, this time based on the four main themes of the conference under the overall title Mass Media and Man’s View of Society: A Conference Report and International Bibliography (Leicester 1978, 102 pages). The theme reviews were written by Halloran and his assistants in Leicester, and the bibliographies were compiled by Pisarek in Cracow and documentalists in other regional centres of communication research.

The next conference was held in Warsaw, 4-8 September 1978, with the general theme “Mass Media and Culture”. Its attendance once more surpassed the preceding conferences: nearly 500 participants from 38 countries. At that time the overall membership of IAMCR was already in the region of 1,000 from over fifty countries. While the membership kept growing, special interest groups became more organized. One of these was a Marxist or “Materialist theory” approach in communication research, which was first convened as an informal group at the Leicester conference and was approved in the Warsaw General Assembly, after heated debate, as a Section called “Political Economy”. The Section on Professional Education convened in Warsaw a special session jointly with the American Association for Education in Journalism (AEJ) and the International Organization of Journalists (IOJ) based in Prague, with Nordenstreng as its President since after the Leicester conference.

As before, this conference also led to a Unesco-supported book Mass Media and National Cultures: A Conference Report and International Bibliography (Leicester 1980, 104 pages). It covered the four thematic aspects of the conference: ideologies, theories and methodologies of mass media and culture; structure, content and impact of national cultures; political, economic and technological factors of cross-cultural and international communication; content, values and effects of cross-cultural and international communication. The four reviews were written by two Polish and two British scholars, followed by a comprehensive bibliography compiled with the assistance of the Unesco-related International Network of Information and Communication Centres on Communication Research (COMNET).

IAMCR returned to Latin America in August 1980, eight years after Buenos Aires, when the capital of Venezuela, Caracas, hosted the conference entitled “New Structures of International Communication”. This was another successful conference, although not very many participants from other continents could afford the trip. Among those who were prominently present in Caracas were, in addition to most of the officers elected four years earlier in Leicester, Nelly de Camargo of Brazil and Cees Hamelink of The Netherlands –both elected new Vice Presidents in Caracas. A highlight of the conference was an unscheduled debate between Ithiel de Sola Pool and Herbert Schiller on the topic of media technology and ideology. An offshoot of the Caracas conference was a critical examination of the MacBride Commission’s draft report, which had just been issued and instantly read by several IAMCR activists, leading to a collection of essays edited by Hamelink (Communication in the Eighties: A Reader on the “MacBride Report”, Rome 1980; reprinted in Mass Communication Yearbook, Beverly Hills 1982).

By this time the Unesco panel of consultants on communication research had ended its term and could no longer meet parallel to IAMCR, thus rendering an indirect subsidy to it. Unesco’s support to thematic publications was also discontinued, parallel to its declining support to COMNET. This was due to changing priorities in Unesco’s communication programme which, in the late 1970s, was increasingly concerned with the International Commission for the Study on Communication Problems chaired by Sean MacBride, the so-called MacBride Commission. Several IAMCR members, including President Halloran and Vice President Zassoursky, were contributing to the Commission’s work through its secretariat and its series of background papers, but this work bypassed IAMCR as an institution.

Nevertheless, Unesco did contract with IAMCR to carry out a major study on foreign news, the so-called “foreign images” study, coordinated by Nordenstreng, Robert Stevenson, Frank Ugboajah and Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi on behalf of Halloran and later published as Foreign News in the Media: International Reporting in 32 Countries (Reports and Papers in Mass Communication, No.93/1985). Also, the Section on Professional Education (headed by Zassoursky and later by Nordenstreng) mobilized, together with the AEJ, IOJ, WACC and the regional sister associations in Africa (ACCE), Asia (AMIC) and Latin America (FELAFACS), a project for the promotion of textbooks in journalism education in the developing world. This project received a major grant from Unesco’s new International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) –thanks to the efficient lobbying of Alfred Opubor, who represented Nigeria on the IPDC Board. Later in the 1990s the project continued with support from the Finnish Development Co-operation Agency (FINNIDA).

Caracas was followed by conferences in Paris 1982, Prague 1984, Delhi 1986 and Barcelona 1988. In Barcelona the Statutes were changed allowing the President to serve one term only: the first two years as President-Elect, then four years as President, and finally two more years as Past President. Halloran had been re-elected three times since Buenos Aires 1972, making him the longest serving President of the Association, with 16 years until Barcelona 1988 and two more years parallel to the new President-Elect Cees Hamelink. The Iranian-American Mowlana became Vice President, together with K.E. Eapen of India. The revised Statutes no longer allowed a long list of Vice Presidents (12 in the previous election in Prague); the maximum of five was followed in Barcelona by limited only to two. Halloran’s term ended formally in Bled in 1990, and he became Honorary President with his predecessors Bourquin, Nixon and Terrou before him – Bourquin actively continuing this role throughout Halloran’s Presidency.

The conferences and other activities of IAMCR in the 1980s continued to be broadly based and successful, the highlight being Barcelona, 24-28 July 1988, which was attended by over 600 participants from 46 countries. The eight Sections and 32 ad hoc Working Groups organized over 70 meetings in all, with more than 250 papers presented. Adding to this record attendance, President Halloran could proudly present the latest membership figures: 1850 members in 60 countries.

Yet the rapid growth and dynamism, partly stimulated by Unesco’s financial assistance, which had characterized the previous decade, had lost its momentum. IAMCR continued with its established forms of formal activity, without introducing a Newsletter, not to speak of its own journal. After Gerbner had become editor of Journal of Communication, published by the Annenberg School of Communication in Philadelphia, he offered it to become an IAMCR journal, but the proposal was rejected by the International Council, mainly on financial grounds but also because of hesitancy about being tied to only one journal –and that an American one. Meanwhile, other associations in different regions were mobilized researchers closer to their home, including ACCE in Africa, AMIC in Asia and ALAIC in Latin America.

By 1987 there was already a fairly commonly held sentiment within the leading IAMCR bodies that the Association was approaching a state of stagnation and that it was time for a change of generation –also in the Presidency. This message was first presented to Halloran in a letter by the President of the Finnish Association of Mass Communication Research during a meeting of the Executive Board in Tampere in August 1987, suggesting two names for candidacy as a new President: Hamelink and Mowlana. This Board meeting was carried out in a pleasant atmosphere including a reception by Finland’s biggest magazine publisher. Halloran had known Tampere well since the mid-1970s, when he delivered visiting lectures and became an honorary doctor of social sciences, next to Johan Galtung and Finland’s then President Urho Kekkonen.

The elections in Barcelona 1988 were historic in the sense that there was an open election for the International Council, with each position having a male as well as a female candidate –a process proposed by Gerbner. As Robinson reported in the next IAMCR conference in Barcelona in 2002, it was after 1988 that “female members began to penetrate what until then had been the top management “glass ceiling” in our organization, thanks in part to a more egalitarian attitude on the part of our male colleagues and pressure from the newly formed Women’s Network”. But gender was not only an issue of women becoming more prominent in IAMCR management; it also attracted scholars doing research on media and gender, leading to a Section headed by Madeleine Kleberg of Sweden. Another research area for which a new Section was set up was media education, headed by Birgitte Tufte of Denmark.

It is known that the “Collapse of Communism” in Eastern Europe occurred between 1989 and 1991. IAMCR was a close witness to that process, first in August 1989 in Budapest, where Tamás Szecskö hosted a meeting of the International Council during the days when the first East Germans escaped to the West via their embassy in Budapest –a prelude to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. And the next conference and General Assembly took place in Bled– in Slovenia which in those very days of August 1990 was in a state of violent conflict leading to its secession from Yugoslavia. Yet the resort town at Lake Bled hosted a peaceful and professionally efficient conference with the theme “Developments in Communication and Democracy”, paving the way towards the new millennium.