ZeePedia HOME       CONTACT

Fundamentals of communication,

Table of Contents

<< Previous
  Next >>
Communication is a universal phenomenon: system of 4 components








To my son Dr Panagiotis (Panos) G. Piperopoulos


As we progress into the second decade of the third millennium, we experience, on a daily basis, that our
world is inundated with overwhelming amounts of visual, auditory and written messages. These messages
carry a tremendous, perhaps immeasurable amount of meanings, making it almost impossible for many
people to receive, understand and use these meanings in a positive way in their daily lives.

In the first section of this textbook, we will be taking a brief glimpse, through available historical
documents, at media realities of the 19th century in the USA and will come across the appearance
and availability of Newspapers of the 'penny press' type, which managed to conquer the masses and
simultaneously the collective imagination of large audiences. Despite its brevity, such a glimpse will
bring forth the then prevalent 'zeitgeist' (the spirit of the times) which was encapsulated in the belief
held by their owners and the public that the printed media had become and were destined to be the
absolute protagonists in the process of information dissemination. Today's realities proved this belief to
be mere wishful thinking.

Early in the 20th century, the century characterized by two World Wars, radio was invented and soon
became popular and ultimately readily available to large numbers of people. Radio broadcasts materialized
and brought to reality the tremendous capacity to carry, almost immediately as they occurred, news
and other messages to large audiences dispersed in vast geographic areas bypassing, in a historically
unprecedented fashion geographic limitations.

Radio, and radio broadcasts, as the means, as the channel of conveying messages from senders to receivers,
reigned supreme for several decades providing those that controlled it with up to then unknown powers
in communicating their messages to large audiences. With radio as the protagonist, gaining the first
role in the process of information and opinion dissemination, the printed media had to assume a new
role. Indeed, surpassed by the live immediacy of radio broadcasts, the printed media assumed the role
of providing to the mass audiences in-depth analyses and editorial views published half or a whole day
after events had occurred, in afternoon or morning editions of newspapers. When major events did
occur newspapers resorted to the now familiar 'extra edition' but even in such cases Newspapers could
not compete with the immediacy of radio broadcasted news and opinion statements.

The development of the moving pictures as films projected on large screens, constituted a landmark
in visual communications. Initially films started as 'silent movies' lacking synchronized sound and
spoken dialogues. In these movies actors and actresses conveyed messages through 'pantomime' and
at intervals cards on which some words or sentences were printed were projected on the screen as
part of the intended film script. Eventually, the development of relevant technology made possible the
production of the so-called 'talkies' incorporating sound as musical background and voices in dialogues.
The film industry, through its products, managed to deliver messages to very large audiences worldwide.
Indeed, for a number of years 'news' were presented to cinema goers as 'trailers' on the screen prior to
the presentation of the movie they went to the cinemas to see. The film industry was, and obviously
continues to be dominated by the studios located in Hollywood, California and a few western European
production studios. For several decades of the 20th century the film industry and radio programs became
progressively the protagonists in Mass Media of Communication threatening the established stronghold
of the press (both newspapers and magazines) in reaching far greater audiences faster than ever dreamed
possible before.

As noted above, radio provided the tremendous advantage of conveying 'live' news and opinions to their
audiences compared to the newspapers handicap of presenting 'ex post facto' news, their analyses and
editorial opinions in late afternoon or next morning editions. The printed media, however, in the form
of morning and afternoon newspapers were able to provide their audiences with in depth commentary
retaining a competitive advantage compared to radio messages. Additionally, embodying the maxim of
'Verba Volant, Scripta Manent' (spoken words fly, written words remain) they could be read by several
members of each family and perhaps again and again, if needed, so as to gain better understanding.

The role of radio and the film industry was surpassed within the time span of only a few decades, especially
in the second half of the 20th century, once Television was invented and through mass production television
sets became available to increasingly large numbers of households. Transmitting initially in black and
white and eventually in full colour, television programs assumed the unquestionable role of being the
major 'opinion maker and moulder' medium on a world-wide scale. It would not be far-fetched to assume,
perhaps, that this unprecedented power over vast audiences lead Marshall McLuhan to respond with
his well known by now 'the medium is the message' aphorism-maxim when asked by journalists what
meanings or messages was TV conveying to its viewers.

In the last few decades, however, High-Tech products and digital technology, literally progressing by
leaps and bounds, has given to Information and Communication Technology and its various artefacts the
leading role in sending and receiving messages, that is in the communication process on a global scale.
It is at this point that an interesting and fast developing reality relating to information dissemination
through the so-called Mass Media of Communication does merit a comment. The reality is that currently,
on a global scale, there exists a historically unprecedented broad spectrum of printed, auditory and
visual media in the form of newspapers and magazines, radio and television stations. The concern raised
in various quarters is not related to the vast numbers of newspapers, magazines, radio and television
stations but to the fact that, through mergers and acquisitions, a diminishing number of privately owned
companies belonging to a handful of so-called 'media moguls' owns and controls these media on national
and international levels. The possibility that a small number of corporations could end up controlling
the mass media is emerging as a potential threat to the needed polyphony in the news flow.

All along, and in all fairness, it is generally admitted that the printed 'messages' in the form of books
which, historically, were shelved and preserved in the family's bookcases, as well as in town and city
Libraries, kept convincingly fulfilling their role in conveying meanings to large audiences as did weekly,
bi-weekly and monthly magazines. In fact while some experts in the fields of communication and media
believe that the modern forms of digital technology will fully overtake the printing business, others insist
that the readers' have the need and do enjoy holding a physical copy of a newspaper, a magazine, or a
book. This reality, according to the fans of 'printed media' will preclude their total disappearance from
the information and communication field.

The book you are reading, in digital form and as its title suggests, constitutes an introductory text made
up of 15 chapters allocated in three parts: Communication, Public Relations and Leadership. One of the
objectives of this book is to familiarize the readers, on an introductory level and in a heuristic manner,
with the three fascinating areas contained in its title.

Admittedly, a superficial, but not frivolous, Google or Amazon search on the subjects of Communication,
Public Relations and Leadership will bring forth the reality that there exist already in print or in kindle
form dozens of thousands of academic books and research articles as well as popular books and articles.
This may justifiably give rise to a question relating to the need and usefulness of publishing yet another
book dealing with these subjects. I will provide you below with two answers in case you are harbouring
such a question in your mind.

The first relates to the publisher's invitation to me to write this book. I was pleased by the call and
impressed by the realization that the very innovative entrepreneurial approach adopted by the publishing
House 'Book-Boon' would make this (as all of their books) available to the readers free of charge! The
perpetual popular maxim stating that usually 'what is free is of no value' does not apply in this case as
the quality of books published by 'Book-Boon' proves. The second answer has to do with my belief that
there is nothing wrong with adding another book as a new and useful synthesis of things which other
authors have said in their personal creative way. Surely the final decision on the usefulness of this book
and the value return for the time invested in reading it rests totally and exclusively with you as the readers.

The subtitle 'I communicate therefore I am' paraphrases the now classic maxim attributed to the French
philosopher Rene Descartes which was stated in Latin as 'cogito ergo sum' (in English 'I think therefore
I am'). I had paraphrased the Descartes aphorism initially in Greek rendering it as 'Επικοινωνώ άρα
Υπάρχω' (in English 'I Communicate therefore I am') in the beginning of the 1990 decade and used it as
the title for my television show which aired every Saturday evening for several years in Greece's National
Television Station 'channel 3' transmitting from my hometown of Thessaloniki. Deliberating on the style,
form and content of the show I decided to adopt in a TV program what was a widely known type in
radio shows where listeners call in and are heard live on the air having a dialogue with the presenter.
In my television show, I would open the show with a brief monologue introducing a socially significant
theme, for example, friendship, relations between parents and children, home violence, happiness and
success, substance abuse, antisocial behaviour etc. Following my short monologue, the Station's telephone
operators would open up the lines and viewers had a short live dialogue with me offering their views on
the specific subject discussed in my show.

Due to the success of my TV program I was asked to do a one hour same format live show at the
National Radio Station channel 3 of Thessaloniki, Greece. It should be noted that the radio show aired
every Wednesday noon and was broadcasted in all three radio frequencies, namely FM, AM and SW
so that it could be received by Greek listeners, not only within the physical boundaries of Greece, but
other Greeks living in global 'Diaspora' as well.

My television and radio shows titled 'I communicate therefore I am' coincided with my appointment
to the Chair of Communication and Public Relations at the Department of Business Administration
of the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki. This was the first Chair on 'communication and public
relations' established in a National Greek University.

My decision to paraphrase Descartes' maxim 'I think therefore I am' to 'I communicate therefore I am'
related to my perception of the 'zeitgeist' of Descartes' era when the human ability to think was considered
as proof of our existence. My feeling is that in our epoch, the 'proof ' of our existence rests on and relates
to the various facets of communication. A brief look at the trillions of messages exchanged on mobiles,
the 24/7 broadcasts of a vast array of radio and television programs, and the dozens of thousands of
newspapers and magazines printed in all languages around the globe should serve to support this
perception. Relating to the core verb 'think' in Descartes' statement and the core verb 'communicate' in
my choice to paraphrase it I will ask you to bear with me in taking a brief look, in a purely philosophical
sense, to relevant propositions made twenty five centuries ago by Plato an Aristotle

Two millennia before Descartes, Plato, speaking through Socrates and going beyond the concept of
'sofrosyne' (the Greek word 'σωφροσύνη' means wisdom) introduced in his dialogue 'Charmides' the
concept of 'επιστήμη' which in English, means 'knowledge of knowledge', from the Greek philosophic
concept of 'νόησις νοήσεως' interpreted by many as 'science'. Relevant in this context is also Aristotle's
statement, preceding that of Descartes and introduced in his 'Nicomachean Ethics': "…whenever we
perceive, we are conscious that we perceive, and whenever we think, we are conscious that we think, and
to be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious that we exist." (The Nicomachean
Ethics, 1170a25 ff.)

Closing the 'prolegomena' I owe an explanation to the readers concerning the fact that in my book they
will encounter frequent references to the two ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. This, in
all honesty and certainly not in an apologetic fashion, is not due to some subconscious, on my part,
tendency towards ethnocentrism. It is dictated by the persevering realization that a variety of concepts and
terminology used in our current study, discussion and understanding of communication, public relations
and leadership (as is the case with concepts and terminology in other social and physical or natural
sciences) have their roots in the thinking and writings of these men. It is within this 'Weltanschauung'
(from the German philosophical viewpoint) that I bring to your attention a much publicized quotation
from a longer statement made by the British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. The eminent British
scholar was clearly, as he publicly had admitted, an Aristotelian and had served as the President of the
UK Aristotelian Society in 1922–23. In 1929 publishing as a metaphysical treatise the 'Gifford lectures'
he had successfully and with great acclaim delivered at Edinburgh University by the title 'Process and
Reality' he wrote and I quote from the 1979 Free Press edition of that book:

'…The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series
of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully
extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them…' (p. 39)

Part One – Communication

The first section of this book aims to familiarize the reader with the various processes of communication
in the multitude of forms we encounter it.

The word 'communication' is directly derived from a Latin verb (commūnicāre, commūnicāt-) meaning
'to share, communicate, or impart'. This in turn comes from a Latin adjective, commūnis, meaning
'common or shared locally'. The term originally meant sharing of tangible things, i.e. food, land, goods, and
property. Today, it is applied to knowledge and information processed by living things or by computers.

Going beyond the primeval person-to-person type of the communication process, historical evidence
confirms that in their communications the ancient Greeks used fire at night and sun ray reflecting mirrors
in daytime while the Romans used the communication beacon towers. In their communications the
American Indians used daytime smoke signals and night time fire arrows while drums and the sounds
they produce were used for communication purposes by various African tribes.

From the above simple and often cumbersome ancient communication systems mankind has succeeded
in inventing and using, for communication purposes, spoken and written language, the printing press,
land line telephone and now mobile/cellular phones, wired and wireless telegraph, radio and television.
It is commonplace today to communicate using modern digital systems conveying on a global scale as
well as in outer space instantly, iconic, auditory and printed messages aided by satellites orbiting around
the earth in outer space.

Indeed, personnel of private and governmental enterprises and organizations, as well as journalists
operating internationally, make extensive use of modern IT means, media and artefacts (including Skype)
as well as the 'e-mails', which are free to send and receive and so their use has increased exponentially.

  1. Communication is a universal phenomenon: system of 4 components
  2. Human Communication: scheme of human communication, defining
  3. Body Language: darwins contribution, intrigue of body language
  4. Mass Media & social media: stone inscription, printing process
  5. The Role of attitudes in human communication: defining attitudes
  6. The birth of a speciality: roots in antiquity, historic glimpse
  7. Publics, Public Opinion and its moulders: historical evolution, term
  8. Rhetoric, Persuasion and Propaganda: rome, love, definitions, variety
  9. Corporate Communication & Responsibility: corporate communication
  10. Press releases, special events and sponsorships: PR specialist
  11. Leaders and Leadership: pantheon of leaders, persons, injustice
  12. Leadership, Power, Authority & Charisma: events, political, financial
  13. Leadership research at the Universities of Iowa, Ohio & Michigan:
  14. Modern theories of leadership in Private and Public Enterprises and Or
  15. Instead of an epilogue: Women leaders remain under a glass ceiling:
  16. References: Bibliography
  17. The Author: Dr Georgios P. Piperopoulos, sociology, psychology