Communications Exam Review
Exam Date: April 13th 2017
The Shifting Character of Media:
● Media is the main means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the
internet), regarded collectively. Media are central to our lives. It helps us to understand
the world, shape our perspective and experiences, contribute to making choices and
decisions, gives us boundaries, and carries us across space and time.
● Roles of Media:
○ Political Role - media offers places for debate and discussion while also providing
information on issues and events. Has a close relationship with democracy and
freedom of speech.
○ Economic Role - media directly promotes consumerism and capitalism through
advertizing and the promotion of consumer culture. Companies control their
public images through media. Also, the development of Information
Communication Technology (ICT) has spurred economic development in
countries. (this means that we can produce our own content, by self branding and
○ Individual Role - we construct our identities through social interactions, and
media allows us to explore the world and our relationships to it.
● Medium: any vehicle that conveys information
● 88.5% of Canadians use the internet, and Canadian media consumption is growing at a
rate of 5.9% per year.
● Concerns about the media: commercialization and privatization, privacy, and the digital
● The Shrinking Globe (diagram on pg. 6 of textbook): With
the invention of each of these new media, the world seemingly
gets smaller. New media have increasingly helped make it
easier to communicate with others and thereby make the
distances between people and places seem smaller. In other
words, these technologies “shrink space” by reducing the time
it takes to coordinate action across distance. ○ The Telegraph: Is the world’s first electronic mode of communication. No longer
did letters and other forms of communication need to be transferred physically by
noise, pigeon, or ship. Instead messages could travel “at the speed of light”. It
was a key technology in shrinking space through time, reducing the time it took to
accomplish particular tasks in space.
● Time Bias:
○ Societies both occupy both time and space. One way societies occupy time and
space is through their communications media, which, Innis argued, have
characteristic biases that make some media more conducive to carrying
messages through time (heavy, durable materials), and some media are more
conducive to carrying messages through space (light, easily transportable
materials). Time-biased media are time-binding media, in that they connect us to
the past through their enduring messages and images (example: murals and
stained glass windows in churches). Therefore, time bias is defined as the
tendency of certain communication systems and societies to privilege the
extension of ideas over time or history as opposed to space or distance.
○ Oral communication maintains culture over time
● Space Bias:
○ Innis uses the word “bias” to mean “tendency” or “emphasis”. Space bias is the
tendency of certain communication systems and societies to privilege the
extension of ideas over space or distance as opposed to time or history.
■ An example of space bias is satellite technology. (The Anik F1 Satellite
for example, found on page 48 of the text). By beaming down a signal to a
particular area of the earth’s surface, a satellite creates at some degree, a
community; all those people are receiving the same signal. People
choose whether to watch and what channel to watch, and different
satellite footprints can carry the same content.
○ Written communication maintains culture over space
○ Oral Society: Innis claims that knowledge and history are held by people, or
groups of people. This leads to a close knit community that must stay together
through time to survive. Knowledge does not lie in the books in universities, it is
in the people; We hold the knowledge as a student body for example. ○ Literate Society: Innis claims that the development of written laws are allowed
for the Roman Empire to expand its power and territory. Literacy allows for the
visual representation of ideas and the availability to compare them. When the
Roman Empire collapsed, the development of local written languages lead to the
development of European Nation States.
■ Writing favours logical, linear, conceptual thinking
● Marshal McLuhan:
○ Global Village: Developed by Marshal McLuhan, it was one of the first analysis’
of electronic communication. He argued that the electronic media created, for the
very first time in history, the possibility of instant communication between any two
points on the globe: he referred to this as the global village. He described that
electronic society now has vast information-gathering and transmission
capacities sufficient to make us intimately aware of the going-ons of people
around the world. Electronic media acted as an “outered nervous system”, where
media extends our senses of sight, touch, vision, and hearing
○ Information Society: According to McLuhan, it is a society where ICT’s
(Information and Communications Technologies) are key to the creation of wealth
and defining the direction of social development. The ICT’s play a key role in
shifting labour processes, and they provide a vital link between the newly
industrialized countries where these goods are now produced, and the markets in
old industrialized centers where they are consumed.
● Jenkins: (2006) he argued that such electronic media enabled a new “collective
intelligence”, such as “wikipedia”.
● Castells: (1996) he argued that networks are shifting the basic structure of society and
● Communication: The act of making a message common to two or more people.
Communications are central to the functioning and operation of our society, and
examining the ways in which they orient us to the world. Communication is a form of
● The Communication Process: This process was adapted by Shannon and Weaver in
1949. Shannon and Weaver’s Mathematical Model of Communication makes reference
to the basic technical characteristics of the process of sending and receiving messages.
This model’s strength is it’s simplicity. However, critics argue that it is too simple, not considering the social context of communication (culture, individual traits, languages,
○ 1. A person - the encoder or source - formulates a message by putting an idea
○ 2. This message is then sent through a particular channel or medium, such as
email or text message.
○ 3. On the receiving end, the decoder receives and interprets the signals and on
the basis of the symbols sent, formulates meaningful content.
○ 4. The decoder may then give the encoder feedback by letting the encoder know
that she or he has received the message. By sending a message back, the
decoder becomes an encoder.
■ Any interference in the transmission of the intended message is referred
to as noise.
● The Social Model of Communication: This model emphasizes social and media
related variables that inform the process of communication. This model sees
communication as both structured by and contingent on some shared social element or
space. ○ Encoding Context: The larger social environment where message formulation
○ Decoding Context: represents the ideas and understandings that the decoder
brings to deciphering the encoded message.
● The social dimensions of media and communication are:
○ Public Policy: Provides a set of rules and regulations governing the way
information and media products are created and consumed. It includes libel laws,
copyright, advertizing, and privacy legislation.
○ Creating a place of Canada: It is much cheaper for Canadian broadcasters to
buy foreign programming than it is to produce their own. In Quebec, a range of
cultural factors allow homegrown products to compete successfully with foreign
fare. Public policy shapes the ground on which media products are created.
○ Ownership: Canadian ownership and content regulations have been used to
prevent Canadian media companies and markets from becoming simple
extensions of their American cousins. No media industry in Canada is governed
exclusively by free-market economies. Private ownership is the dominant
ownership from within the media system.
○ Professionalism: Cultural producers are not formally trained or tied to a formal
regulatory authority, but they do hold their own set of ethics, and they develop
practice-specific rules. Professionalism emphasizes the ideals of freedom of
speech, press, and expression, and the ability to question authority. Improved technologies mean that the same amount of work can be done by less people
and the bar is lowered for amateurs to become cultural producers.
● Mass Communication: Is the transmission and transformation of information on a large
scale. There are three dimensions:
○ The production and dissemination of mass information and entertainment
■ For both private and public consumption which are both state-regulated
○ The decentralization production and wide accessibility of information and
■ This communication is often corporately financed, and sometimes
industrially produced and is often intended for small audiences
○ The interactive exchange of information to a number of recipients.
■ By the means of public access to communication media and media
outlets, encompassing a wide range of technologies, like the telephone,
computer, tablet, and mobile devices.
Communication and Democracy:
● Mass Media: Vehicles through which mass media takes place. One form of mass media
can involve multiple types of media.
■ Example: YouTube Video - language of the song, the singer's voice, the
instruments, the video itself, and the internet.
○ The seven dimensions of mass media:
■ A distinct set of activities
■ Involving technological configurations
■ Associated with formally-constituted institutions and organizations
■ Acting within certain laws, rules, and understandings
■ Carried out by persons occupying certain roles
■ Conveying information
■ Among members of society (where this information is being conveyed to)
● New Media: Emerged in the 90’s, where technologies, practices, and institutions are
designed to facilitate broad participation in communication on a mass scale. It
encompassed and extends traditional mass media. They are usually but not always
digital media. ● Convergence (technological):
The bringing together of separate
computer) and translating them all
so they are in one common format
convergence results in corporate
● Convergence (corporate): when
media companies combine the
resources and content for two or
more different media properties to realize cost savings in content production and cross
promotional opportunities. These companies are not trying to bring new consumers in,
they are trying to shape their current consumers; For instance, landline sales drop when
companies enhance cell phone usage for their consumers.
○ Everything is being jammed through the internet - it’s problematic, because we
rely on different channels of receiving information and not just the internet.
● Forms of Ownership: Because we live in a capitalist society, most media
organizations are privately owned. The primary purpose is to generate profits or income
for their owners or shareholders, not to produce media content.
○ Non Profit Media: Mandate-driven, rather than profit driven.
● Broadcasting Act: also known as the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission), was established in 1991. It is a federal legislation
governing all forms of broadcasting in Canada. It provides a framework for policy
(defining broadcast undertakings, who can own media outlets, and technical matters).
We see examples of the Broadcasting Act through the CRTC.
● Copyright Act: established in 1921, it is a legal framework governing the right to
reproduce a published work. This law transforms the expression of one’s intellectual
efforts into a piece of property that can be owned. It helps ensure people get credit and
get paid for their work and that it is not used by someone else without the creator’s
permission. ● Telecommunications Act: Established in 1996 by Bill Clinton, it focuses on the
infrastructure underlying the transmission of a message. Regulations today have been
relaxed and competition between different companies have been substituted for direct
regulations as a means of controlling behaviour.
● There are NO laws addressing content, structure, or operation of internet in
● Information in the Media: Meaning in media messages is not always clear or
predetermined - images and words (and other media content) have at last two possible
types of levels of meaning:
○ Denotative Meaning: obvious, literal, and readily apparent meaning
○ Connotative Meaning: secondary, implicit, figurative meaning, or meanings that
might be associated with the image or word
■ An example between the two, can be seen when considering the word
“apple”. It could be read as having a denotative meaning (as a fruit) or it
could be read having a connotative meaning (as the computer company).
● The Two Step Flow of Communication: This is a model developed by Katz and
Lazarsfeld in the 1950s. They argued that information from the mass media is
transmitted or channeled to the larger population by “opinion leaders” - that is, people
with better access to the media and greater understanding of the news and topics
covered than most other people.
● Technological Determinism: The notion that
technological development shapes society and
gives direction to social change. It tends to frame
technology as the primary force shaping society.
Technological Determinism holds that technology
operates according to an unavoidable logic
inherent in the technology itself, that the
technology has “an autonomous functional logic
that can be explained without reference to
society”. It is perceived as a straightforward track
towards improvement, and the effects of
technology are attributed by determinists to the technology itself, rather than to the
human decisions about how it is developed and employed. ○ An example of Tech Determinism is the mobile phone that you carry around; it
will be replaced by one smaller and thinner and allows you to do more with it.
Human control over the exact direction of technological development is minimal -
the technology in a sense has a life of its own.
● How do the Renaissance and the Enlightenment relate to Democracy and
○ Renaissance: Was the return to the classical teachings of ancient Greece and
Rome, the emergence of Humanism (broad philosophy that celebrated human
achievement and capacity). It was marked by the development of Gutenberg’s
printing press (1454).
○ Enlightenment: An early 18th century change in Western European worldview
distinguished by an intellectual approach based on a scientific and rational
perspective on the world, a fundamental shift in worldview that championed
science over religion, justice over the abuse of power, and a social contract that
specified individual rights and freedoms over the absolute rule of monarchs and
○ Relationship to Democracy and Communications: Printing with movable type
was an important element of social shift that saw the eclipse of feudalism and the
dawning of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Government by divine right
of monarchs was replaced with the notion of the consent of the governed. From
the 15th century and onward, the printing press and other media forms have
served an important social role in gathering information and informing citizens.
Other communication media have been influenced by their social and historical
location. They have been given form and function by a larger set of social
circumstances and events.
● Industrial Revolution: Lead to the development of cities and the need for improved
communication across distances.
○ Social Change: Shift to the nuclear family and the distinction between work and
○ The telegraph and telephone, as they “shrink space through time”
○ Photography created connections to people and events in far away places
○ Motion picture industry found a niche among urban workers with new found
leisure time and disposable income. ● Commodification of Communication and Information: According to Karl Marx, it was
a key factor in economic growth and a barrier between “haves” and “have nots”. He
highlights that it is “a process of use value into exchange value” Others celebrate this
process as the entrepreneurial spirit of capitalism. The ongoing commodification of
communication products and processes lies at the heart of what people call the
communication economy or the communication revolution and is the key factor in
economic growth. It creates a growing divide between the communication haves and
have nots, however, between the information-rich and the information poor. Having to
pay for information is taking away people’s rights and responsibilities and citizens.
● Ownership: There started to be a progression of