Hansen, Kathleen A. and Nora Paul. Behind the Message: Information Strategies for Communicators.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Publication:||Name: Communication Research Trends Publisher: Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Centre for the Study of Communication and Culture ISSN: 0144-4646|
|Issue:||Date: Dec, 2008 Source Volume: 27 Source Issue: 4|
|Topic:||NamedWork: Behind the Message: Information Strategies for Communicators (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Hansen, Kathleen A.; Paul, Nora|
Hansen, Kathleen A. and Nora Paul. Behind the Message: Information
Strategies for Communicators. Boston: Allyn & Bacon [Pearson], 2004.
Pp. 322. ISBN: 0-205-38680-6 (pb.) $73.20.
This is a book that follows from earlier books by the same team (here Jean Ward is replaced by Nora Paul) and continues to develop material on the means and methods of information gathering. Having tried these exercises for students in the University of Minnesota, the authors
make their suggestions, quite confidently to the journalism fraternity in the world.
This new title reflects a subtle but important shift in approach, as it contains not just search strategies, but places the overall model into an information strategy framework and introduces along with various methods of information gathering, the processes of message analysis and information selection, evaluation, and synthesis.
The book argues in a quite subtle manner that students and professional communicators in various media industries may use this material in many ways, but a common information strategy process allows all of them to proceed securely in developing an information gathering and evaluation strategy.
For example, the authors argue that news reporters, advertising copy writers, and public relations specialists may require the same census figures on the percentage of American population over 50 years of age. The subsequent use of this information by these media professionals will vary, but the process for getting the information is the same. This same model applies to the search process for academic and scholarly work.
These books have affected the quality of curriculum and teaching methods employed by schools of journalism worldwide. Hence these books are valuable in the areas of curriculum innovation.
The book begins by introducing the new information universe that communicators face today, and tries to help readers understand the types of messages and message delivery formats that affect information strategies. Chapter 2 covers the information strategy model that forms the conceptual framework for the book as a whole. This model reflects the new focus on information strategies rather than simply on the search process. The third chapter speaks of the importance of analyzing both the context and content of the messages. Chapter 4 analyzes four sources of information for communicators: informal, institutional, scholarly, and journalistic. In the next chapter we have three major methods of gathering information: monitoring, searching, and interviewing. The library as a crucial source of information gathering gets coverage in the Chapter 6. Chapters 7 to 10 study in depth the four sources of information with suitable case studies. Chapter 11 introduces the importance of critical thinking and information education skills so necessary for journalists today. Major areas covered are evaluation of statistical claims and survey data, and strategies for evaluating information from online sources. How to synthesize and make clear sense out of all the chaos that news is, is the focus of the next chapter. The final chapter reviews the concept of social responsibility that needs to be the major criteria in news gathering and analysis.
There is also a very valuable appendix--a case study of an information strategy process from beginning to end. This reproduces the entire text of a major page-one news story, identifies the sources of information that contributed to every paragraph, and suggests several access points a reporter might use to locate those sources.
The book also offers a "Topical Tool Index" and a "General Index" which allow communicators to use the book as a reference guide There are also extensive side bars and examples throughout each chapter, all useful tools for journalists.
To conclude, the areas covered in the book are the results of the authors' experiments with students of journalism. As these are suggestions made after having been tried with students, as we say in all honesty that "there is many a slip between the cup and the lip," the vision and ideals presented here are not much put into practice in the world of journalism. Somewhere down the line, journalists living in a world which seems increasingly obsessed with instant gratification, the lure of gain, the pursuit of profit and the overriding importance of possessions, either ignore or do not have the capacity or the political will, to put into action these ideals presented in this book.
--Jacob Srampickal S.J.,
Gregorian University, Rome
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|