UMSL media scholar writes about ‘Development Communication’

Development CommunicationThe practice of development communication was born in the 1940s and rose to prominence out of the ashes of World War II. This concept involves a process of intervening in a systematic or strategic manner with either media (print, radio, video, Internet, etc.) or education (training, literacy, schooling) in order to promote positive social change in developing countries.

University of Missouri-St. Louis scholar Thomas McPhail’s new book “Development Communication: Reframing the Role of the Media” introduces the history of this theory, chronicles various applications of it and explores communication in countries that are still developing.

“Development communication remains relevant because modernization has failed to take hold,” said McPhail, professor of media studies at UMSL. “Third world countries are worse off today than they were 50 to 60 years ago.”

“Development Communication” was edited by McPhail, who also wrote more than half of the chapters. Top media scholars were selected to write the remaining chapters based on their reputations and their knowledge of the current development communication scene.

“These are international experts talking about distinct aspects of development communication,” said McPhail, who recently returned from Lima, Peru where he lectured on the book’s topic. “They talk about, for example, the digital divide. The book also includes discussions about the role of feminism in the development of the third world, development in India and development in terms of gypsies across Europe.”

McPhail, of University City, Mo., first became familiar with development communication during the 1970s when he was affiliated with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a United Nations agency created to promote international collaboration through education, science, culture and communication. He has gone on to serve as a media analyst for many media outlets including the Associated Press, National Public Radio, Financial Post, USA Today and the New York Times. He has written several books, including “Global Communication: Theories, Stakeholders and Trends.”

“McPhail has put together another thought-provoking book,” said George Barnett, professor of communication at the University of Buffalo in New York. “‘Development Communication’ is essential reading for anyone interested in social change in today’s globalized world.”

“Development Communication: Reframing the Role of the Media” was released last month by Wiley-Blackwell. The book is available in paperback or hardback at


Short URL: