In this week, we will discover the power and the limits of the media in our life. Starting
from reviewing the different forms of human communication to the role of media in
creating of "reality" for us in our daily life. Particularly, we will see the effects of media
in creating "pseudoevents", as well as its role in the construction of reality. We will also
learn about the difference between the lay theories and communication theories. Finally,
we will study the basic model of communication and the media "sideeffect" by
identifying the "manmade" events or the pseudoenvironment.
• Locate the different forms of media historically.
• Identify and interpret aspects of human communication.
• Interpret the role of pseudoevents, and the dialectical process of the media in
• Interpret the difference between lay theory and communication theory.
• Forms of communication
• Media (Mass media)
• Dialectical process
• Lay theories
• Communication theory
• Basic model of human communication
Objective 1 Locate the different forms of communication media
In this section, you will learn the different forms of communication and how media
has changed and adapted throughout the history of humanity.
Media Our "Windows" to the World: Theorizing Communication in Modern
Forms of communication
Communication occurs in different forms in our daily life. In this section, we will be
taking a look at the different forms of communication.
In this form, one communicates on an individual level (what we call "intrapersonal
communication"). For example, your dreams. A dream is a communication between you
More info in your textbook: pp. 4751.
Individual communication In another form, we communicate between friends, colleagues, family, etc. This form of
communication is called "individual communication". Such communication is very
interesting especially in a country (or place) like Canada where we have different
individuals communicating different ideas, cultures, colours, songs, etc.
In a third form of communicating, different cultures can also communicate. Think about
"Canada day", for example, think about different cultural expressions on that day.
Attendees of the event might want to wear the traditional clothes that they use to wear
back home, or dance a cultural dance, etc. This is a form of cultural
communication. Another interesting example might be the Greek festival in Ottawa, or
the Lebanese festival where people are dancing, eating, and consuming their own cultural
forms. This is communication!
Another famous form of communication is the "organizational" communication.
Typically when we think about this form, we think about the communication within
organizations, institutions, and different entities. For example, government, educational
institutions, unions, media corporations, among many other forms. Let us think about the
public relations or advertizing companies, they are exercising this form of
communication. We can provide a link here to different organizations (CBC, big
companies of public relations).
Mass media are an important categorization of communication forms; as it is known
as "mass communication" human beings have being communicating thousands of years
ago. "Mass" communication is typically focusing on the "size: of the audience. For
example, a billboard in the street is a form of "mass media" as the intended audience is
everyone walking in the streets. Same applies to newspapers, radio, films, Television, as
well as the electronic media (such as the Youtube, Vimeo, etc).
Read more on definitions of communication and on what communication does in
your textbook chapter 2 (pp. 6364).
*At page 4 of 18 of week 3
Media Our "Windows" to the World: Theorizing Communication in Modern
Communication is the reason that societies can and do exist, as it is the mechanism by
which one culture is constructed and shaped as well as sustained through different
Scholars of communication have studied this process of constructing reality in society,
and concluded that the social structure of society "tells us" what types of actions are
considered acceptable or appropriate and what types are rejected and considered
unacceptable. For example how to be nice to someone in the street might be simply
smiling while walking. In some culture, or societies, this might be seen as a rude sign of imposing oneself. For that reason, scholars argue that communication practices "change"
through a "circular" manner. –i.e. dialectical process.
New technology, political, cultural and social status in society "creates" the type of
communication for us. This is what the two scholars (Berger and Luckmaann 1967) come
to a new terminology called "dialectical process" of communication: meaning a
continuous, constant and dynamic relationship between communication practices and
Social construction of reality argues that people who share a culture share "an ongoing
correspondence" of meaning. Things generally mean the same to me as they do to you.
For example, we assign a shared meaning to particular "signs"; these signs are different
from one culture to another and one society to another. An interesting example might be a
car: a car is seen a means of transportation for one person; but a sign of wealth or success
for another person. In this case, the meaning here is negotiated in societies and created
through human interaction. In other words, media and society are in a constant and
Society affects media as it creates meanings and values that people share; which is by
turn reflected in media messages. On the other hand, media also creates meaning and
values to be disseminated and shared among society's members. Social construction of
reality is important for media scholars, students, and even consumers; as it study the
effects of media messages such as advertising as a form of "symbolic interaction" of
meaning between the media and their consumers...
A pseudoenvironment is a typical mediamade event; an event that is not real. It is
defined as any circumstance created for the purpose of gaining "coverage by the media".
For example, public relations campaigns are creating Pseudo events; media music
industries are creating Pseudo artists.
Why study communication theory?
• Communication is one of the most pervasive, important and complex aspects of
• Everybody tries to make sense of their experience (Lay theories)
• We interpret events in a more flexible and useful ways. Why do we study communication "theories"?
What is the importance of studying them?
Our daily lives are strongly affected by our own communication with others, as well as
by messages from people we don't even know, people both living and dead, people from
near and far
Generally, everyone has his own theory; everyone wants to understand what is happening
in many situations.
I have a theory about (driving fast); and a theory about (smoking cigarettes); and another
theory about shopping in a particular mall.
By developing an understanding of a variety of theories of communication, we interpret
events in a more flexible and useful ways
Why do we do this?
People want to make sense of the daily happenings in a more useful way.
The same thing applies to communication studies; we want to make sense of the process
of human communication but in a more "scientific" way.
What is a theory?
A theory is an informed guess about how things work, why certain events happen, or why
certain events follow other events.
People who have dogs are more trustworthy vs people who have cats are less trustworthy.
Is this a theory?
This is actually a lay theory.
What makes this a lay theory?
The person making the statement about dog and cat people does not have any evidence to
validate his or her claims: it is merely a speculation.
What is a lay theory?
It is a speculation that you formulate in order to organize and make sense of an event in
• The main difference between communication theories and lay theories is
• Validity here means: what is the degree of confidence or truth that the same
phenomenon happens in the exact same way that I argue or predict.
Lay theory – Suspecting without having evidence.
Communication theory – It's based on accurate, methodology, logical reasoning and
Approaches to Building a Theory
There are two approaches to building a theory textbook (p. 72 – fig. 3.3)
Inductive theory Inductive theory is starting from the scratch..by observations...etc. to reach the
point of building a theory. A scholar might observe that a child watching a violent
tv program will play violently with his toys or his friends.
Deductive is starting from what other scholars found/reached and contest them to
either prove or confirm.
Example: Violence and television; use of media
Function of theories
There are five functions of theories.
For example: scholars have observed/noticed that kids who play video games tend to be
more aggressive than those who do not. They decide to start a study in order to further
investigate their initial observation. To do so, they follow these steps:
1. Organize: organizing information about the phenomena: Xnumber of kids played
with the games for Ynumber of hours.
2. Describe: describing their behaviour after playing by gathering reports from their
families, schools, etc.
3. Explain: explaining the communication practices by relating the results to the
questions (or hypothesis).
4. Predict: predicting, in this example, that the percentage of violence within
teenagers will be higher if the kids continue to consume this particular type of media.
5. Control: controlling events when they have the same exact circumstances (i.e.
Using the same variables).
Week 4 The "Medium is the Message": Made in Canada (Sept. 23)
This week, we will discover one of the very important approaches to media studies, for
us, Canadian students studying in a Canadian university. There are two important name
associated with the Canadian approach to media studies: Marshall McLuhan and Harold
We will start by understanding the main concepts and ideas that these two important
scholars presented, but importantly, we will discover how their ideas are related to the
current practices of media policies, and regulations in Canada. We will also talk about the
CRTC regulation regarding the Canadian content, debating whether a Canadian artist
should fulfill the requirements or not.
At the end of the week, you will be able to Interpret the Canadian approach to media
More specifically, you will:
• Associate the Canadian approach to media studies to their founding father (i.e.
through the work of Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis)
• Evaluate the concept of technological "determinism".
• Debate the CRTC regulations on CanCon. • Situate and locate the following key concepts in the Canadian history of media
• Broadcasting Act;
• Canadian Content (CanCon); and
• Aird Commission
• Hot media and cool media
• Global village
• Time and space
• Monopoly of knowledge
• Canadian content
• Technological "determinism"
• Media regulations
The "Medium is the Message": Made in Canada
The Canadian approach
Media scholars have discovered several ways to analyse media studies. One of the main
approaches or ideas is the so called "Toronto school" or "Canadian school" of
Communication studies depend on the ideas of two scholars: Harold
Innis and Marshall McLuhan. Both scholars have focused on the physical form of
communication and the sociopsychological effects of their use. Our current use of mass
media, social media, and electronic media are just few examples reflected in ideas of
these two scholars.
McLuhan focuses on electronic media and the global village aspect of media, while
Harold Innis studies the rise and fall of empires, as symbols of power as a result of the
use of media.
We will study these two views.
The Canadian mind, "may be one of the main sites in modern times for workingout the
meaning of technological experience... A general fascination with the question of
technology extends like a brilliant arc across the Canadian cultural imagination".
— Arthur Kroker 1984, p. 8
Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis
The centrality of media and technology in the Canadian Mind...why?
There are four reasons to illustrate the importance of technology and media in our
• The FrenchEnglish cultural tensions
• The cultural media invasion from the American media system • The challenge of maintaining a balance
• Canada's own struggle to strive for a distinctly Canadian cultural identity
For these reasons, Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan's research has enriched the
historical understanding of social change and its relation to the media of technology used
in a given society.
To know more about these two scholars, visit: "Old Messengers, New Media: The Legacy
of Innis and McLuhan" available via library and archives Canada at:
Let's focus on McLuhan and on Innis!
Click to enlarge photo
Source – Marshall McLuhan,January 21, 1967, photograph by Yousuf Karsh taken
from Library and Archives Canada's website.
Biography: Read it on Library and Archives Canada's website:
Contribution: Read more about McLuhan's work by visiting the library and archives
Harold Innis Source – Harold Innis, 1920s, photograph by H. James
Source: – University of Toronto Archives/B720003/Box 034, file 57
© Public Domain nlc13009
Biography on Library and Archives Canada's website:
Main ideas on Library and Archives Canada's website:
"Technologies of communication are central to Innis's writing of history; they mediate the
rise and fall of monopolies of power and shape the interactions of knowledge and control
Medium is the Message:
Marshall McLuhan examined how we perceive media message: looking not only at the
content of the message but also at the form of the message.
Media are transmitting our knowledge and experience embedded within the very
structure of our society.
McLuhan argues that new technological advances in the media, societies are restoring the
tribal character that existed before the invention of print. For him, print asserted
individualism and competition, as opposed to electronic media which created a global
village. He asserted that the world has become a global village where people send and
receive message instantly reducing the space among them and the separation of distance.
"Our new electric technology that extends our senses and nerves in a global embrace has
a large implication for the future of language". (McLuhan 1964)
Monopoly of Knowledge: Harold Innis poses two questions in his research. The first is about the reason of change
in society. The answer for him relates to the way different media transformed social and
human organizations in society. He argues that the rise and fall of human civilization
relies on the degree of competition of the existing forms of media, particularly he asserts
the importance of monopoly of knowledge which is the power domination of different
means of communication technology.
Innis’ work influenced the study of the history of modernity that focus on state
formation, bureaucracy, and modes of persuasion and production.
The answer is: "monopoly of knowledge" and power domination of different means of
For him, the answer related to the way the different media of
communication transformed the social and human organization in society.
Time and Space:
Harold Innis was trying to find the reasons behind social and cultural stability therefore
he argues that it is related to maintaining a balance between time and space. For example,
the case of ancient Egyptian civilization where he explains the use of papyrus in old
Egypt as a light medium and as a move from carving on stones.
The move from carving into stone as a medium of communication. This resulted in a
major shift from an absolute monarchy system to a more democratic system of
McLuhan divides the media into hot and cool categories. Books, magazines, and
newspapers are considered as hot media because they require a low degree of thinking to
use them, hardly some effort.
Hot media: are those that require low participation or involvement from the users' part.
Cool media: are those media that require high level of participation or involvement
Did you know that...
• Television was demonstrated at the New York World Fair and at the Canadian
National Exhibition in 1939.
• Television arrived in Canada in 1952.
• In 1952, the Fowler Commission set first levels for Canadian content on tv and in
1961, CTV began broadcasting as private network.
Many of us have more than one television set and each one of us watches about 28 hours
of television per week. We even watch tv on our iPods, laptops and other portable
devices. Scholars and broadcasters have different views of the television effect in our
society, but all of them agree that there is some degree of influence. For example:
fictional television characters can capture the imagination of the public.
Take the show Survivor, for instance, as an example of how tv is still an important
medium of communication even in the 21st century. A while ago, a whole generation of
children grew up with television characters, such as: Ninja turtles, Pokémon, Sesame
Street, The Simpsons, among others. Even now, think about the importance of Hockey
Night in Canada. What about you?
Do you watch television on hockey night, during the Stanley Cup series, during the
What makes radio different from other media? Scholars refer to radio as blind medium:
you can't see it with your eyes like you can with television, a movie or a newspaper. You
can see the pictures only in your mind. Radio broadcasters use time not space as a means
to communicate messages. Canada's Radio marketing Bureau argues that "radio lets you
imagine the possibilities".
Did you know that...
The first use of radio was in 1912 with the Titanic disaster. It really puts radio into the
public eye. In 1927, Canada's Diamond Jubilee was broadcasted. Find out more about
this radio show.
In 1928, Aird commission released its report on the radio Broadcasting system in Canada,
and importantly, CBC radio began broadcasting in 1936. (visit: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/).
According to the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission
(CRTC) reported in 2010 that Canada has 1221 radio stations and audio services.
Canadians listen to about 17.7 hours of radio each week in 2010. From Canada's Radio
Marketing Bureau (RMB), "radio is a part of Canadian daily routine, it reflects and
adapts to their lifestyle, it is a perfect fit for modern life. It is effortless, easy to listen to
during other activities, entertains and informs throughout the day, is compatible with
other media and provides a soundtrack for life."
Some history about Cancon
Historically, the radio and record industry have been intimately connected. However,
during the 1950s and 1960s, it was often difficult for Canadian musicians and song
writers to get their songs played on the radio. During that period, it was estimated that
Canadian music only made up around 4% of all music heard on Canadian radio. For this
reason, the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
employed the Canadian Content (Cancon) regulations for radio. As of 1971, English
language stations have been required to play 35% Canadian content, while French
language stations need to play 65% Canadian content (in French).
In order for a song to be categorized as Cancon, it needs to fulfill two of the
four MALP conditions:
• M – Music written by Canadian citizen or landed immigrant
• A – Canadian artist performed lyrics or music
• P – Produced or performed in Canada
• L – Lyrics written by Canadian citizen or landed immigrant
While some consider that the Cancon system seems to favor Canadian artists, it also
discriminates against Canadian singers. For example: Bryan Adams' song (Everything I
Do) I Do It for You from the Robin Hood Prince of Thievessoundtrack, was not
considered Canadian content because he cowrote the song with a British songwriter. Afterwards, the CRTC amended the MAPL to allow for Canadian songwriters to
collaborate with foreigners.
Best Cancon and singles in Canadian history
According to the book 100 Canadian Albums (published in 2010), these are the top 5
Canadian album and single releases:
Top 5 albums:
1. Harvest – Neil Young
2. Blue – Joni Mitchell
3. After the gold rush – Neil Young
4. Music from Big Pink ––the Band
5. Fully completely – the Tragically Hip
Top 5 singles:
1. American woman (listen on YouTube) – the Guess Who
2. Heart of gol (listen on YouTube) – Neil Young
3. The Weight (listen on YouTube) – the Band
4. Summer of 69 (listen on YouTube) – Bryan Adams
5. Halleluja (listen on YouTube) – Leonard Cohen
Juno Award for Excellence in Music in Canada
The Junos were named after Pierre Juneau who was the head of the CRTC when the
Canadian content regulations were implemented. It is like the Grammys: a peer award.
Members of the Canadian academy of recording arts and sciencevote on nominees and
Take a moment to think about Canadian popular (pop) music. In your opinion, does
Canadian pop reflect our personal identity?
Read more about…
• How CanCon is making a difference
• CRTC on the CanC n
• The panel discussion on 1970 CanCon announcement
Canadian content (CanCon)
Culture and technology have occupied a unique role in the Canadian Communication
history and present times and will remain one of the central challenges in its future.
Important factors have contributed to shaping such understanding and of course, creating
communication policy demands. One reason for this is that Canada's geography
represents an immense challenge to maintain EastWest traffic flows in the face of the
powerful NorthSouth attractions. As a result, Canadian media have captured the interest
of Canadian policy makers since the early 1930s. During that time, the Canadian
government searched for possible solutions to confront the American culture invasion of
radio stations arguing it is affecting the Canadian culture identity.
For more information, see textbook page 23.
Aird Commission (1928): the Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting
The Aird Commission was the first Canadian Royal Commission on Broadcasting
The fact the Canadians were listening to more American than Canadian programming
worried Canada, especially because there were 400 000 radio sets in Canada. Politicians
began to worry about the domination of Canada by American mass media. To solve this problem, they set up the first of many Royal Commissions on the broadcasting in
Canada. The Aird Commission named after Sir John Aird, was created to examine the
danger that American programming posed to Canadian culture. The Commission
recommended that Canada set up and fund a public broadcasting network similar
to BBC in England (British model: nonprofitdriven system). This network would be
produce and broadcasting programs for Canadians and by Canadians.
In 1932, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act was passed resulting in the creation of
the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) which began broadcasting in
In 1936, it was replaced by the CBC and it was reaching just less than half of the
For more information, read about the Aird Commission.
Broadcasting Act (1968)
The Broadcasting Act act resulted in the formation of the CRTC and its basic mandate
was to the power to regulate broadcasting in Canada. That CBC was giving the mandate
to provide a national broadcasting service in both languages and to provide Canadian
programming that helped to develop national unity and allow Canadians for culture
In short, Canadian broadcasting should be owned and operated by Canadians. Canadian
model: "public" interest.
The CRTC is the federal regulator in charge of regulating and supervising the broadcast
media in Canada. It is an independent authority working in the spirit of the broadcasting
act. Its main objective "to ensure that all Canadians have access to a wide variety of high
quality Canadian programming".
The main focus of the act today is to ensure that:
• Canadian radio and television stations should be effectively owned and operated
• The Canadian system has two parts: a public system and a private system;
• Canadian broadcasters should "safeguard, enrich and strengthen life in Canada";
• Anyone who is involved in broadcasting in Canada is responsible for what he or
• The broadcasting act specifically states that broadcasts should not include
anything in "contravention of the law"; such as obscenity, profanity, and false
Week 5 The long tradition of Media Effects (Sept. 30)
This week is a very important start for us to study one of the most important traditions in
studying media studies. You will learn that the term (effect) emerged in the 1930s through
the theory of magic bullet (known as hypodermic needle effect of mass media). Then you
will study the limited effect of mass media that contrasted the magic bullet in the work of
Paul Lazersfeld in the 1940s and on. Through some activities, you will apply these two
trends of media studies into real life examples. For you, as a student in this class, it is
important to always associate the effect of media to the historical period where this theory emerged. Always look at the effect chart in this course website and your textbook
page 102, so it will be easier for you to recall these theories.
At the end of the week, you will be able to:
• Compare between the powerful versus the limited effects theories of the mass
• Apply media effects theories to examples of media events.
• The Magic Bullet
• LimitedEffects Model
• People's Choice Project
The long tradition of media effects
Why Study the Effects of Mass Media?
Do you know why it is important to study the effects of mass media?
Many researchers have concluded that there is a major preoccupation among mass media
scholars about the effects on mass media in our lives. There are many reasons to study the
effects of mass media, but scholars have talked about 4 main reason:
1. The public is concerned about the effects of mass media messages on audiences.
For example, the messages, and instructions for making bombs on the internet, antisocial
messages in rap music, suicide themes in heavy metal music and drug use and sexual
content in drams.
2. The creators of mass media messages are concerned about the effects of their
efforts. It would be frustrating to be involved in communication efforts and feel that your
efforts were not having an effect.
For example, people not paying attention to their message.
3. Understanding the causes and effects in one of the most powerful kinds of human
knowledge so that it gives people the means to control events and to avoid any undesired
4. Effects are important because analyzing mass media in terms of cause and effects
fits nicely with the scientific model of research.
Media Effects Chart
19121920: Legend and Propaganda
Practical use of wireless technology
Wireless operators save 705 lives during the Titanic tragedy in 1912 boosting interest in
amateur radio across the United States. The successful use of propaganda provided
further evidence of the overwhelming power of the media. 1930s: The golden age of radio
Magic bullet Hypodermic needle function of mass media
In 1939, NBC debuts at the World's Fair in New York city with a broadcast that includes
president Roosevelt who becomes the first president to appear on television. Orson
Welles directs War of the Worlds in the Halloween Eve in 1938 that helped usher the
idea of "mass" media.
1940s: World War II (19391945). The wake of
Television popularity affecting the role of
Office of war information persuasion studies
The first major study of the influence of media on politics was the People's
Choice undertaken as a result of having president Roosevelt as a good media
politician. The study cited individual differences (education, religion, political affiliation,
personal relationships) as factors influencing media effects assumption.
1950s: Attitude change theory arguing for the
selective processes of the audience
2 step flow of information
Based on the 1940s study, Paul Lazarfeld and Elihu Katz highlighted the role of "opinion
leaders" in consuming the media messages and interpreter them to the public (to their
1960s: The first communications satellite relays
telephone and television signals
McLuhan understanding the media
McLuhan is very influential figure during this time advocating "global village" concept.
Marshall McLuhan examined how we perceive media message: looking not only at the
content of the message but also at the form of the message.
1970s: VCR was introduced the internet emerges
Uses and gratifications Psychological grounds of media effects. The theory argues that media do not do things
to people; rather what people do things with media. In other words the influence of
media is limited to what people allow it to be.
Late 1970s: First handheld videogame
programmable game system
Agenda setting function of the mass media
This theory centers on the idea that media may not tell us what to think, but certainly tell
us (as audience) what to think about the role of media in the 1968 presidential election
(by focusing attention on specific situation, or a person, or an idea or story).
1980s1990: Direct broadcast satellite industry
offers fullscale services in the 1990s growing
at a faster rate than a cable
A return to the idea of the powerful effects of the media. the main idea here that media
operate primarily to justify and support the status quo at the expenses of ordinary
people that is rooted to neoMarxist theory. For example, the role of media in
stereotyping and representation of race, gender and identity.
The long tradition of media effects
About the Media Effects Chart
The chart on the previous page shows thehistorical trends of mediawithin mass media
For example, it starts with tpowerful effe(the Bullet theory), where researchers think
that there is a strong and direct universal effect of mass media messages on ALL
audiences' who happen to be exposed to the messages.
Then, upon doing more research on the effects on mass media, researches proved
evidence that mass media typically hassmall effects on the auand does not necessary
have "magically" strong and immediate effects on the media audience. This trend has also
been seen as the "2 step flow of information" and not the direct effect.
At another stage of research, research of a number of topics (such as agenda setting,
effects of television on violence) indicated mass media has more than a limitedon the
audience. It has what they called "moderateeffect", as the ideas of both "strong" and
"limited" minimise the actual effect and role of mass media in our life.
The magic bullet (stimulus response effect and the powerfuleffects model) The earliest general theories on the influence of the mass media in soci were derived from
many scientists who viewed the social order as (mass society). Scholars have referred to
these ideas as the magic bullet theo reflecting the behavioral impact of Charles Darwin's
ideas on human behavior.
Early media observers felt that there is an absolute one on one relationship that exists between what
the people read, hear, see and do with the informa. They think that this effect is the exact same
effect for everyone in society. This magic bullet theory is known as the hypodermic
theory that assumes that ideas from the media have a direct causal relationship to behavior.
In other words: media could inject ideas into someone's mind the same way liquids are
injected to our bodies through a needle.
Historically, the magic bullet theory is related to practices, propaganda where media affect
the public so strongly and so directly. In short, media messages are seen as bullets
striking your eyes, your ears as audience and resulting in a direct, immediate powerful
and uniformed effect.
For more informatin, refer to your textbook pages 99101.
The limited–effects model
Following the great impact of the magic bullet theory of the media, researchers began to
suggest that media are not that strong in society and are not uniformly affecting the
Audience are not passiv and are not that nai in reallife. A number of case studies during the
1940s until the 1960s (see the chart) assert that mass media have typically small effect on
the audience. For example, researchers argue the media are just one means of information
and does not represent all possible tools to get information.
Researches also talk about mediating factor that help the audience to be impacted by media
messages . For example, they talk about the selective exposur and perception of the media: you
might be seeing an advertisement but it does not mean that you will go immediately and
buy the product. You will have to select to be exposed to this advertising, then you will
remember the content and, if you wish, you can purchase the product. If the powerful
effect of the mass media is still valid, then violent movies would have a huge impact on
the audience and therefore, there would be a high rate of crimes!
The people's choice project (the 2 step flow of information)
In one of the major studies of the influence of media and politics, The People's Choice in 1940 examined
the voting behavior of the presidential election in the United States. A group of researchers lead by Paul
Lazersfeld studied more than 3000 people in Ohio from May to November 1940 to see the way these
people were influenced by the media in their voting behavior.
The study concluded that, instead of changing people's behavior, the media mainly reinforced the voting
behavior. They also discovered there are other important effects than mass media. For example, family and
friends of the voters had more effects on the people's decisions than the mass media. And the mass media
were reinforcing their attitudes. The most important finding of this research is that the major source of
information about candidates in the election was other people and not the media.
In short, the transmission of information and ideas from mass media was first to opinion leaders in society
and friends then to the audience themselves. This process is called the twostep flow of information.
"We are interested here in all those conditions which determine the political behavior of
people. Briefly, our problem is this: to discover how and why people decided to vote as
they did." Media as the Gatekeeper (AgendaSetting Function of Mass Media)
For the first 30 years of the 20th Century, newspapers dominated United States. They
were the only single source of daily information and dialogue about political culture and
social issues. It was also the era of the greatest newspaper competition.
Did you know that...
• More than half of all adult Canadians read a newspaper every day.
• 98 daily newspapers put out 4.3 million copies a day in Canada.
• Including weekend editions, 30.6 million daily newspapers are sold in Canada weekly
• In the United States, there are 1570 daily newspapers
• 74 % of Canadians read the local weekly newspaper
A newspaper produced by dropping the price of each copy to a penny and
supporting the production cost through advertising.
A key issue to the success of any newspaper is the financial resources. By
showing advertising that's more people would see their messages (being popular)
than the competing papers. A publisher could sell more ad spaces at higher prices
and enjoy greater revenues. During the 1800s, a huge competition for readers
among the large newspapers led to remarkable period of sensational journalism.
A tabloid is a small format newspaper usually 11"X 14". It features illustrations,
photos, and sensational stories. It works by featuring eyecatching headlines.
Agenda Setting (News Agenda)
The phrase "agenda setting" function of the mass media is usually attributed to
communications scholars MacCombs and Shaw. This was a title of the research article
they published in 1972 where they offer evidence on the relationship between
the prominence (means positioning in time or space) and of stories reported by news media
(newspapers, magazines, networks, television, radio, etc.) and the importance of those
issues for the audience.
What they have found that stories emphasized by the pre have been placed in a very prominent
positio in the formats as seen as more important by the audience.
In contrast, when the press i s not placing a news story as promine, it hasreceived less importance
from the audience. And of course, if they do not mention it, we will surely assume that it is
not important at all for them and will not grab any attention for the audience.
Agenda setting is among the most influential theories in mass media. The theory argues
that media may not tell us what to thi but they are very efficient in telling us what to think . We get news coverage because it informs, helps people understand issues or events, and
transmits a social heritage.
In the case of CBC, as it is Canada's Broadcasting Corporation and it is public, then it
often presents information that touches the population of Canada, the diversity of our
culture and our land, that celebrates diversity, etc. CBC National will present events that
affect Canadians; CBC regional will choose first news that is relevant to the region, then
go to National events.
"The media may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is
stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about."
— Bernard Cohen
Week 9 – Perception, Language, and Media Representation
This week, you will be covering a very interesting and pertinent theme that touches
everyone in their daily life. We will talk about the role of our language, how we create
symbols in our daily life, how media are key component in the creation of symbols; how
sometimes these symbols are negative or positive; what is the impact of these symbols on
the creation of the meaning.
Let us think, for example, about the image you have in your mind about your professor.
What kind of characteristics would pop in your head? Would it be