Preface and Acknowledgments
There is an important new field emerging under the rubric of global media
studies. This can be seen in the formation and widespread appeal of new
journals that both herald and help to propel its arrival, such as Global Media
and Communication (est. 2005) and the Global Media Journal (est. 2002). Such
trends are also visible in the annual conferences of the Global Media Studies
Group held since 2001, where there is concern with vital substantive topics as
well as a drive to stimulate research into the global media. And at other major
conferences and in the literature more generally, such research looms large.
Our work falls within this framework of studies, and we hope that its
extensive use of archival sources and contextualization within current inter-
disciplinary scholarship on the problems of empire, international relations,
history, and global political economy will help to establish a more robust
historical foundation upon which these trends can be further developed. It is
reasonably safe to say that much of the current research on global or, as some
would say, international communication has relied upon a caricatured ver-
sion of the past upon which to establish an understanding of contemporary
developments in world communication. That caricature, we argue, is one in
which the closest prelude to contemporary trends lies in the period we cover,
from roughly 1860 to 1930. Thus, as found in much current literature, the key
and distinguishing feature between the past and the present is that the advent
of the global media system—consisting of intercontinental cable, and, later,
wireless telegraph, communications networks, and global news agencies such
as Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, and Wol√—was driven
mainly by the logic of imperialism and rivalry among the imperial super-
powers (Britain, France, Germany, and later Japan, the United States, and
Italy). In this view, the conquest of people and territory provided the domi-
nant logic of international relations while the means of communication were,
above all else, adjuncts of great power strategy. The leitmotiv of this era, then,
is what Jill Hills refers to as ‘‘the struggle for control of global communica-
tion.’’ And in this grand narrative, the mantel of hegemony over global com-
munication passed from Britain to the United States after World War II, albeit
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