AR -- Media

Medienwissenschaft: ein Handbuch Entwicklung der Medien und Kommunikationsformen [Media Studies: A Handbook on the Development of the Media and Forms of Communication]. Ed. Joachim-Felix Leonhard, Hans-Werner Ludwig, Dietrich Schwarze, and Erich Straßner. Berlin: de Gruyter. 28 cm. (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, 15). [02-2-267]

Vol. 1. 1999. xxxiv, 1,025, 16 p. ill. ISBN 3-11-013961-8: EUR 398.00
Vol. 2. 2001. xxxiii, 1,028–1,788 p. ill. ISBN 3-11-016326-8: EUR 398.00

The series in which this handbook appears, Handbooks on Language and Communication Sciences, aims to follow the model of the best handbooks in other disciplines by providing a comprehensive overview of the status quo of research in a field. The Medienwissenschaft handbook covers traditional areas of media studies, such as books, newspapers and magazines, film, and radio and television, and also “new services.” With a projected total of 272 articles by 250 contributors, the work is an encyclopedic handbook of considerable scope, comparable only to few similar international enterprises, such as the Encyclopedia of Communication and Information (New York, 2001) and the Dictionnaire critique de la communication (Paris, 1993). With one more volume to be published, a final verdict cannot yet be reached, but it is possible to evaluate the overall organization and execution of this research tool.

The overall organization of the articles in chapters is often unclear and somewhat confusing. Articles are subdivided in thematic chapters with Roman numerals, and sometimes further subdivided, e.g., “Contemporary Media VI: Newspapers and Periodicals III: Future Developments,” and the information contained in the chapter headings is not always useful. With only a table of contents as a means of orientation, the lack of an index at this stage of the publication makes it almost impossible to look for specific items of interest.

The organization of the individual articles themselves, on the other hand, is excellent. All are preceded by a detailed outline of their contents, and all include bibliographies. They vary in length from 3 to 30 two-column pages, and they include a variety of charts and illustrations. The main language is German, although a few articles are in English. The contributors are listed with name, place of residence, and native country. It is unclear whether the third volume will introduce them in a more detailed fashion. The majority appears to belong to the older generation, and are often prominent scholars. Some younger scholars contributed case studies.

A research publication project of this monumental nature requires intellectual dedication as well as tenacity on the part of its editors. It is apparent that not all contributions were submitted in a timely fashion (three articles are missing from volume 1 for “technical reasons”). The stage of planning and soliciting articles probably took several years, and some of the articles were written at an earlier stage than others. Having the individual contributions dated would have been a useful service for readers and authors. The lag in publication time is particularly unfortunate given the rapid developments in media and media research these days. One hopes that the editors will be able to complete this ambitious and admirable work in the near future. [wub/rs]

Das Fischer-Lexikon Publizistik, Massenkommunikation [Fischer Lexicon of Journalism and Mass Communications]. Ed. Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, Winfried Schulz, and Jürgen Wilke. Updated, completely rev. and expanded ed. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, 2002. 768 p. 19 cm. (Fischer-Taschenbücher, 15495). ISBN 3-596-15495-2: EUR 14.90 [02-2-268]

Similar to the last revised edition of this lexicon (1994; see IFB 95-2-208), which could more accurately be called an encyclopedia because of its scope, this latest version of a proven work needs but a brief comment. As the result of revision and expansion, it is now double the size of its original edition (1971), and, supplementing the 1994 version, offers articles on multimedia, online media, and public relations. The articles are well informed, and the research and facts are grounded, though the content focuses on the German situation and institutions. This is an outstanding encyclopedic handbook that should be acquired as a matter of course by all libraries. [wub/mjc]

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Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
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