20th Dec 2010

Prof Philip M Taylor

On the 6th December Philip Taylor, Professor of International Communications at Leeds University, died of cancer. Back in 1998-99, when I studied for an MA at the Institute of Communications Studies, he was its Director. Phil’s lectures on international communications were well-received – he had a flare for challenging and provocative public speech. His views were often controversial and paid no heed to the latest fads or spin-doctored sound bites. I recall one lecture in which he blew away the American cultural imperialism thesis in one fell swoop. Responding to a student’s comments about the malign global power of US media, Phil picked up a newspaper, sought out the TV guide, and then demonstrated how US exports actually made up a relatively small proportion of that day’s viewing schedule – hardly featuring at all during prime time. He was always critical of US/Western media and communications, but never took the easy-way-out; was never anti-American or anti-globalisation per se.

An historian of propaganda and psychological warfare among other things, Phil passed on his expertise to researchers, postgraduate students and military establishments across the world. His books on war and the media, notably Munitions of the Mind (3rd edition, 2003), War and the Media (2nd edition, 1998) and Global Communications, International Affairs and the Media since 1945 (1997), will stand the test of much time.

His long-standing website is well worth a visit, as is the site set up for tributes to him.

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