Explorations in Mass Communication: Issues and Controversies Catherine Murray
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Catherine Murray Fall 2003 Course Team Diana Ambrozas Doris Baltruschat Wei Gao Natalie Tkachev Course Objectives To provide a map to navigate the field history & political economy Popular culture & media analysis Locate contemporary controversies Course Skills Develop the Four stages of critical thinking: Description Analysis, Framing of Arguments and Proof Interpretation & Debate Evaluation/Originality
The Alchemy of Grades Description C+ Basic facts mastered and patterned Analysis B range Meaning of patterns probed, knowledge applied. Hierarchy of patterning proofs Interpretation High B Comparisons and analogies. Judgement. Argument and Illustration. Evaluation A-A+ range Values. Understanding Course Tools Framing arguments Organizing proof Writing persuasively Developed in tutorial debates Short essay paper Lecture & Tutorial Support Notes for lectures available from TA: Friday Lectures are audiotaped and available in library READ before lecture Tutorials Participate in debate Essay assignments: start by week 4 EXAMS Mid Terms are Pop Quizzes in Tutorial Workshop for final exam available The Big Picture Communication is a battleground of power Historically, allied with state or business corporations ( & now entertainment corporations) Central to institutions of democracy and capitalism 130 outlines how media work, how they are shaped by and shaping the economic, political and social worlds around us Do the Media create critical citizens or consumers? Recent Issues & Controversies Key Concepts Media & Communication defined Mass Communication defined Model of the Communication Process Mapping the Flow Broadly, what enables communication to take place May be interpersonal and one on one( speech, writing, facial gesture) which is beyond scope of CMNS 130 May be technical/broader in scale Specifically, a technological development that extends the channel, range of speed of communication among large groups of people Print Newspapers Magazines Books Audio Radio Music/Sound Recording Visual Film TV Videogames Digital Internet
The Definition of Communication From Latin Communicare Verb: to share, impart, to make meaning common To give or receive information, signals, messages in any way Using talk, gestures, writing or other means Definition: Fleras page 36 “ a meaningful exchange of information” Origins of Communication Part of human search to transcend time and space One of the oldest of human practices: Formal study rooted in classical politics from times of Ancient Greece and Rome under a different title: rhetoric, literary criticism, persuasion (humanities) Development of the study of Mass Communication allied with rise of social sciences and mass marketing WW2 Mass Communication Communication from one person, group or institution through a transmission system or medium to large audiences or markets From one ( or few) to many Implies concept of gatekeeper: controller of transmission/message design Implies concept of effectiveness and efficiency: is messaging achieving what it intended?
Transmission Model of Communication Sender….Message….Receiver Based on Harold Lasswell’s model ( 1948) Helps identify the stages through which communication passes so each one can be properly studied Modern models recognize networks are more complex, no longer one way and there is more interaction and feedback between sender and receiver Transmission Model II Central Questions: Who says what to whom with what effect? ( transmission model) Useful in early study of propaganda, and advertising ( stimulus response assumption) Sees mass communication as a process of transmitting intentional messages for the purpose of social control, or marketing Implies the study of state or government policies, economic processes of advertising and commodification of popular culture Characteristics of Mass Communication Message produced in complex organizations Message fixed in some form with information and symbolic content ( either in digital bits or commodity form) Message is sent/transmitted or diffused widely via a technological medium Newspaper, magazine, CD or videocassette, radio, television, satellite or Internet Message is delivered rapidly over great space Message reaches large groups of different people simultaneously or within a short period of time Message is primarily one-way, not two way Transformation of ‘Mass’ Communication Arrival of computers and switched two-way interactive technology …digitization Internet From one to one, … from many to many--almost infinitely Rise of transactional media ( pay per bit) Resistance of media piracy:swapping and downloading Nature of the Mass Communicator/Sender Mass communication is produced in complex formal organizations With multiple gatekeepers Using a great deal of money Increasingly in private sector institutions in the West In a highly competitive market, working to reduce risk by merging and oligopoly
7 Trends in Communication Compression of space and time Larger and larger territories covered: networks of networks emerging (www) Mobile, wireless untethered access: ubiquity Communication across borders virtually instantaneously
2. Commodification Spread of private and not public enterprise, interpenetration of marketing, consumption and media Widespread ideology of consumption/consumer “sovereignty”
3. Deregulation and Concentration and Conglomeration Withdrawal of public sector, less regulation, more role for market Trend to mergers and acquisitions Multi media holdings 7 Trends Cont’d
4. Globalization : Growth in international trade in cultural products, rise of 6 or 8 main companies dominating markets and merging industries AOL Time Warner;Disney;Vivendi, Viacom, Sony, News, Bertelesmann
5. Digitization and Convergence Conversion of sound pictures and text into computer readable formats by representing them as strings of zeros and ones Now, telecommunication providers involved in TV and cable Digitization enables the production, circulation, manipulation and re-purposing or storage of information on unprecedented scale
6. Specialization ( part of “demassification”) Narrowly “casting’ or “targeting” communication to particular interests… shrinking share of general interest TV 7. Personalization The “daily me”: personal tailoring of media diet/media products Ideal type: MP3 downloading of custom music A Different Approach: the Cultural Model Encode meaning-----decode meaning Involves Creation of the Text, design of the sign. symbol or codes and signification or interpretation Fleras, p. 36: Communication is much more than message exchange.. The enrichment that communication brings in terms of culture, cohesion and connectedness is widely acknowledged.
Cultural Model II Central Question: How does communication construct a map of meaning for people in everyday life? (cultural model) How do people negotiate common meaning and are bound by it Starts from the assumption that : Any attempt to understand the power of the media requires us first to understand how these products are located within and work to construct meaning in everyday life (Grossberg et al, p. 237). Embraces ideology/belief systems and ritual: mass communication is the representation of shared beliefs where ‘reality’ is produced maintained, repaired and transformed CMNS 130 Interaction of technology, organization of cultural industries and cultural power Text: Augie Fleras, Mass Media and Communication in Canada Fleras a sociologist His agenda: This text intends to “out” the mainstream media as a persuasive dynamic that manipulates and conceals even as it enlightens and informs. Contradictions prevail: to the one side the media reflect, reinforce and advance the interests of the powerful. To the other side, there are sufficient “openings” for oppositional forces to transform the media…vii. Read Fleras Tutorial: Introduction to the Media
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