Chapter 5-The Mass Media Oct 29 2008

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23 Aug 2010
Reading Notes
Chapter 5: The Mass Media
y Communication: to bring together or unify by establishing shared meanings and
understandings between groups and individuals
y Mass Media: communication flows are essentially unidirectional, going from transmission
point, to an audience
y Interactive Media: ex: telephone, radio station- communication flows back and forth, and ppl
exchange roles with one another in the transmission and reception of communication
The Technical Perspective
y Innis
y Time-Biased Media: are modes of communication that endure over time but are not very
mobile across space, such as writing on stone or clay tablets
y Space-Biased Media: can cover much greater areas of space but are much less durable over
time- writing on paper or sounds transmitted over airwaves
y TBM- conducted a string sense of tradition and custom- promote religious forms of power
and belief
y SBM- lead to territorial expansion, empire building, and more secular forms of power and
culture as manifested in the dominance of military institutions and the growth of the state
y These different forms of power create different types of social division and conflict
y The elite that controls the means of communication tries to use it to preserve its own
privilege and interests
y Those excluded from power control and in the process stimulate the development of new,
alternative forms of communication
y McLuhan- argued that the relationship was mediated by the way forms of communication
change our sense perceptions and cognitive processes
y Print- undermined oral communication and its emphasis on hearing, and ushered towards
of more visually oriented culture
y Print removes communication from face to face interaction - makes info more abstract
y Spread of electronic media- TV- is spelling an end to the era of print dominance
y TV= doesnt rely on strictly on sight but also sound- which achieves a better sensory balance,
allows instantaneous communication- no delay between transmission and reception of
y TV- more accessible less hierarchal than print -> ³global village´
The Critical Perspective
y Critical Perspective: institutions, such a media, and processes such as socialization and social
control, cannot be understood from the viewpoint of society as a whole, but only from that of
unequal and conflicting groups and classes
y (1) Marxism perspective: the role of the media is defined in terms of how the media serves
the economic interests and political power of the dominant class, those who own and control
the means of material production
y Dominant Ideology: the production of ideas, beliefs, values, and norms
y Chomsky & Herman- ³propaganda model´: media serves the interests of the leading political
and economic class by filtering information to reduce or eliminate radical or subversive views
y 5 main filters= medias orientation to profit-making, its despondency on advertising for
revenue and profit, its reliance on powerful institutions and individuals as sources of info,
negative reaction if the media deviate from promoting elite interests and values, adherence
to anti-communism as an overarching belief system
y (2) the capitalist class and other powerful groups use dominant ideology to reinforce their
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position and maintain the status quo
y hegemony: the use of media and other cultural institutions to rep their interests, values, and
understandings as natural and universal
y Alternative View Points: occupy an intermediate position, reflecting compromise or
negotiated understandings, which blend elements of dominant and oppositional viewpoints
y Oppositional View Points: rep the experiences of subordinated groups against those of the
Political Economy of The Media
y Focuses on the ownership and control of economic resources, and on the effect of
technology and economic power on cultural values, social structure, and political decision
y Media are organizations that are usually owned/controlled by large corps or the state and
that function like other bureaucracies
y Have to sustain themselves economically through commercial revenue, govt funding,
subscriber fees and donations
y Primary goal of media organizations- to inform and entertain or to capture market share and
make money?
y Ownership/control- concentrated into few hands
y Multimedia Chains: corporations that own a diversified array of media operations and outlets
in different fields, such as radio, TV, publishing, and operate worldwide-> Ex: Disney:
y Horizontal Consolidation: sharing of facilities and resources between different plants and
y Vertical Integration: controlling of resources and assets at different stages of production,
such as ownership of a major league sports team along with stations and cable channels on
which the games are televised
y Consolidation of media properties into fewer hands, and the convergence of media platforms,
reduces the range of voices and perspectives that can be represented in to so-called
marketplace of ideas
Newspapers: Concentration, Monopoly, and Advertising
y Corporate ownership of daily newspapers has undergone rapid change since 1970s- become
highly concentrated
y The concentration of ownership in the hands of few multimedia chains has raised serious
questions about freedom of the press and the diversity of opinion, both of which are widely
regarded as necessary for democratic society
y As newspapers have become more advertising dependent, the scale an costs of operation
have also grown- due to reduced comp and local newspaper monopolies
Television: Economy, Culture, and Identity
y Commercialization and advertising dependency
y Profit motive, rather than cultural goals
y Mainly American programming- preference over CDN
y TV drama- enforces cultural identity
y Cultural Imperialism: in which one societies media exert an overwhelming and unilateral
influence over another societys culture
y The view that CDN culture/identity are threatened or undermined by the consumption of US
television programs or other cultural products has not gone unchallenged
y CDNs also develop a sense of collective national identity through their overwhelming
preferences for domestic news and public affairs programming
y CDN culture is under siege by US style programming operates on the assumption that CDN
values are qualitatively different from US ones and can, in fact, be reflected in our cultural
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