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Sample Personal Statement for Intercultural Studies in Mass Communication

Most of what people "know" about the world, as suggested by America’s early journalistic commentator Walter Lippman, comes not so much from personal experience as through mass media. Clearly, we live in a world that is saturated with images created by the media and our understanding of this world can only be relatively true, or can infinitely approach the truth, but can never be equated with the truth itself. In a certain sense, the media shapes our perceptions about the world. Therefore, once furnished with the power of mass media, we are furnished with a decisive edge in challenging the society. These ideas have promoted me to deeply appreciate the active role of media in terms of constructing a virtual world, and evoked my interest in theories of communication. Through years of rewarding study and work, this appreciation and interest have grown into a conviction that the construction of a wise, exuberant and responsible media will be my life-long devotion.

My academic research on mass media set sail with my BA thesis. To explore the impact of communication, I made a comparative study concerning the reports on the Kosovo War by CNN World News and CCTV – the similarities and dissimilarities of the programs and styles in addressing the same topic. This comparison was then echoed by a demonstration of the audience’s different attitudes towards the same war under the influence of different media. Correspondingly, I drew a conclusion that the attitude of the government is an insurmountable gulf fixed in front of the media, and suggested that in order to build a favorable image of the government, the official media should achieve its end by effective combination of true information rather than evading sensitive and hot issues.

This conclusion has again and again been confirmed during my three-year dedicated work in the News Center of CCTV. Today in a time of numerous means of communication, it is impossible to evade or wall up any information. To do so is only to impair the credibility of the official media and deprive it of public adherence to what they advocate. Any government that intends to win public identification of its stands on sensitive and hot issues should publicize these stands, and guide the public opinion through professional media strategies that are likely to be accepted by the audience. This is in the reformation of China’s news system an urgent undertaking that we should spare no effort to accomplish.

My experience in CCTV, the largest and most authoritative TV station in China has armed me with substantial knowledge and skills to contribute to this undertaking. I witnessed the whole process of TV news reformation in China and made my way through from a journalist and editor to a director and editor-in-chief. From living broadcast of significant events to painstaking editing of informative news, news magazines and special editions, I engaged myself in making all kinds of TV programs, which covered almost all aspects of China’s reformation and development, among them the reformation of the public sector, the entry into the WTO, the bid for the 2008 Olympics, and the National People’s Congress and People's Political Consultative Conference every year. Furthermore, the cultural programs I made as a director of CCTV Oriental Time comprehensively dealt with important literary and art works of contemporary China, which allowed me to develop keen enthusiasm in the studies of media culture, cross cultures communication and international communication. With these, I achieved a transition from practical work to theoretical studies and a shift from microcosmic operation to macrocosmic judgment. Because the editors are directly involved in the making of programs with the ultimate audience in mind, I kept examining my work and the relationship between media, media environment and the audience, with a vision of the whole program, even the whole media. Consequently, how to take full advantages of the media in China has become a question I am frequently concerned with, which is out of the reach of specific and microcosmic operations like news reports and program making.

Nowadays, emerging communication technologies are accelerating transformations in the mass society, while the impact of mass media on individuals, society and culture is increasingly prominent. Yet, compared with the situation in the west, the mass media industry in China is still fettered by too many problems. How the government can effectively and reasonably manage the mass media and how the industry can be guided by the most recent theoretical achievements are pressing tasks calling for solutions. On the other hand, in a context of media globalization, excessive information of foreign cultures in the media presentation of the world may result in a social crisis of cultural identity. The exploration of favorable ways of opening up the Chinese media, or the market-oriented reformation of the Chinese media, requires due attention. A mastery of the up-to-date theoretic achievements in the field of world news communication is for sure to be helpful in solving the problems that China’s media is facing or is to face.

Therefore, I hope to pursue a further education in the U.S., which boasts the most advanced media research worldwide. My main research interest is the impact of media and communication. More specifically, I would like to focus on the intercultural studies in mass communication. It is undeniable that media produce significant impact on the recipients’ cultural identification. Many countries in the world are confronted with the crisis of social and cultural identification under the impact of globalization. The media in those countries tend to present an overwhelming amount of foreign culture at the expense of their national culture, causing the recipients to regard foreign culture and values unconsciously as a standard against which to measure their national cultural values. This problem is especially serious for developing countries under the general framework of media globalization. How to evaluate both the positive and the negative impacts of foreign cultural influences and to strike a mutually reciprocal balance and reconciliation between indigenous and imported cultures will be a fascinating issue for research.

Another issue related to intercultural studies in mass communication that interests me is exploring possible ways of opening the domestic media market of developing countries, especially a country like China, to international media giants and foreign capital. Although the commercialization of China’s media does not represent the entirety of China’s media reform, it nevertheless constitutes an important part of the reform. China has the greatest media market in the world but for a long time in the past all media in China have been put under the authoritarian ideological control of the central government. With China’s accession into the WTO, there have been countless outcries for the elimination of government control over media. It is inevitable that international capital would flow into China’s media market. The United States’ National Geography Channel and Discovery Channel have already been introduced into China. Given the historical and ideological background of Chinese society, it will be a very delicate issue how to react to the encroachment of international media and international capital. With respect to their international counterparts, should Chinese media simply reject, or compete again, or cooperate? What are some of the feasible modes of commercial operations?

The United States will provide an ideal academic environment for me since in the U.S., research of media impact is nearly identical to that of mass media, and remains the interdisciplinary subject of all researches on communication. Moreover, some American institutions have surveyed several times about the impact of mass media on the culture identity, which fits my research interest and purpose perfectly. I aim to get a profound comprehension of the reality and history of media development in the most developed country of the west, and to grasp advanced research methods and theories in my concerned field, so that I can overlook the Chinese media industry from a higher perspective, commit myself to its development, and promote China’s media onto a way leading to wisdom, exuberance and responsibility.

 


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