Editorial

Gertrude J. Robinson (McGill University)

What does a reader expect when a new issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication arrives? Phrased in this way, the "reader" becomes a mythic entity who is unrelated to you and I, the actual owners of the journal corporation. So, what do we want from our Journal? Our editorial co-operative has had this question in the back of its collective mind for the past six years as it struggled to keep the Journal alive and reinvent its purpose. The year of 1992 seems to have been the turning point in the periodical's resuscitation. During this year the three editors perfected their co-operation, with Armande Saint-Jean tracking manuscripts which reach Managing Editor Jean McNulty at three-month intervals. Financially, too, there is a solid base of 500 subscribers who provide the threshold for corporate viability. About 50% of these subscribers are individuals (two thirds of them Canadian) and the other 50% are institutions. Interestingly, two thirds of our institutional subscribers are located in the U.S., indicating that the Journal has been accepted into U.S. university libraries. The next task is to concentrate on British and Australian institutions. Our issue "mix," two guest-edited "special topic" volumes and two of general scholarship, have also become established. They reflect the diversity in topics and approaches which make up Canada's communication studies community. Special issues also fill the need for current course material for teaching purposes and are becoming an increasingly important revenue source for the Journal corporation.

What then is the mission of the Journal as the editors have understood it? We concur that the Journal is subscriber-owned and should therefore reflect the field of communication studies as it has developed in Canada over the past 25 years. This means that it is a national publication which is open to all types of scholarship, both empirical and theoretical. Throughout the last six years the Journal has published solid scholarship from a variety of points of view. Among these were organizational, historical, and technological analyses of the Canadian media and policy scene. In addition, articles exploring the political economy of the Canadian media industries, journalistic concerns about professional values, investigations of popular culture, and feminist and post-modernist challenges to the field have appeared in its pages. The Journal furthermore views itself as a sister publication to the French-language Communication et information and reflects this fact in its synopsis policy and its openness to French-language scholarship. The Journal is also cognizant that a nation's communications activities are part of a global network and that we must therefore be sensitive to developments beyond our borders. The Journal's "generalist" outlook is both a challenge and a handicap in an academic environment where specialist groups are continually jockeying for position to re-define the field. Yet judging by the mail we receive, non-Canadians read the Journal because it demonstrates that Canadian scholarship differs markedly in tone and focus from North American scholarship in the U.S.

We have called this issue "Muted Voices: Canadian Communications Disputes" to draw attention to scholarship which has been concerned with important but rarely researched topics and policy issues. A good example of such an issue was Caroline Andrew's (University of Ottawa) Southam Lecture at Charlottetown, PEI, which explores the future of the merged Canada Council and Social Science Research Council. From an academic point of view, the picture seems rather bleak. Dwindling financial resources have already seriously reduced the number of people involved in the peer review process, and smaller granting funds are skewing research initiatives toward politically based rather than intellectually interesting themes. James Linton of the University of Windsor explores another contentious issue, that of the legitimacy of camera access to the courtroom. His comparison of Canadian, U.S., and Australian practices sheds light on how "access" and "fairness" criteria have been administratively handled in different countries. Shirley Devereaux Ferguson (University of Ottawa) inquires into the kinds of communications systems which government departments and private industry utilize to monitor their external environment and how accurate the resulting assessments are. Norma Schulman (George Mason University) explores the intellectual history of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and how the Centre's "cultural studies" approach has penetrated U.S. scholarship.

In the Commentary section, Joël Demay (University of Ottawa) brings us up to date on the state of the Aboriginal press, two years after the government has cut most of its funding support. The varied survival strategies provide a gauge for the energy that Aboriginal people are expending in re- defining their existence in the post-Charlottetown era. Marilyn Dahl (Simon Fraser University) and Julia Corbett (University of Minnesota) look into two minority concerns: media portrayals of disability and the coverage of the ozone layer. Both of these content analyses provide us with evidence on how the media function as definers of social issues and how well they do as watchdogs of the environment. There is much food for thought in this issue, so enjoy the read.



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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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