Christian Pentzold

Communication is, by all accounts, a global phenomenon. Yet, it is neither an overall practice, nor does it follow general rules. Instead, on one hand, we find a multitude of local ways to generate and disseminate information, to use media technologies, and to participate in public discourse. On the other hand, there are overarching connections and interrelations, forged by international conglomerates and political treaties or created by forms of cultural appropriation. Against this background, this edited volume serves as a Media Compass that allows locating and mapping media landscapes internationally through the help of a set of coordinates. It provides a middle ground between fairly robust, long-term media systems and fluctuating fashions and trends in media usage. In-between these two extremes, its contributions gather and discuss the key structural elements in the political, social, demographic, cultural, and economic set-up of media infrastructures and public communication that show some stability – but are open to change. These elements form the framework for how media organisations operate, and people come to engage with communication. Some of them are country-specific traits; others carry transnational, though rarely universal, relevance like basic liberties, forms of government, multinational policies, or global rules of trade. The Media Compass assembles a collection of country portraits, not snapshots. Each of the contributions furnishes readers with a useful resource that can be consulted for a concise overview and assessment of a country’s media environment, formative conditions and circumstances, historical background and development, current issues and challenges as well as its position vis-à-vis other countries. The entries allow for comparative readings of the conjunctions and divergences that characterise a country’s place in the wider media landscape.