September 11, 2012
Week 1: Introduction Media and Society
Daniel J. Par
University of Ottawa, Department of Communication
September 11, 2012
TA: 1. Kevin Johnson
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: Mondays 13:00-16:00 (DMS 11140)
2. Radamis Hany
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: Wednesdays 9:00- 11:00 (DMS 11129).
-Started using reason as a base instead of class. Basing the advancement of knowledge on science.
Giving up the divine rights of kings.
-Had to think about what to debate, who should be involved, how hierarchy should work, public access
and opinion, etc.
-Entrusted parliament and elections to ensure these values. To ensure the flow of knowledge, we
developed mass media.
-Freedom of speech, privacy, ownership of the media go to the heart of the society you want to
-16 18 century involved the role of communication and orienting it towards who should participate
and how they should participate. Were they knowledgeable/interested enough?
-20 century: media studies becomes an active field. 1900s involved emphasis on the formation of
public opinion. 1930s onward shifted towards sociologically and psychologically based groundings. What
effect do these media messages have?
Three types of approaches to communicatons:
1) European Approaches
-More sympathetic to Marxist thought
-Involve the role of social, political and social interest in shaping media messages
-Administrative school: looks at communication breakdowns and how to enhance the means of
conveying content. 3) Canada
-How the conveyance of content influences culture. Ties into our insecurities of our national culture.
Importance of media
Primary agent of socialization
-Influence is the primary agent of socialization, even more than family.
-Media messages are powerful forces of influence on us as individuals; our ideologies, our consumerist
concerns, our culture concerns, etc.
-Central to our understanding of the world and how we coordinate our actions in it.
-Canadian Radio Television Commission (CRTC) released a report on our exposure to media. Roughly 18
hours of radio per week; 28.5 hours of TV per week; Anglos are 18 online and Francos 13 hours online.
-Historically, the key role of the mass media was to inform people. Audiences were viewed as being
passive. Mulled it over, but accepted what is happening to us.
-We shifted in this dynamic; not only news organizations providing this info, but us as well providing it to
-Political/media content may be dumbed down. A shift from news to info-tainment. (E-talk daily, human
-More people get their news from the Daily Show than an actual news source. Some feel this is a point
-Historically, media picks what is news. There is a multitude of information, and they decide how they
are going to be framed.
-They play a role in structuring public perception.
-Doesnt tell you what to think, but what to think about. (Protest news coverage was limited )
-Communicative technologies are the key to the economy. Final transactions and communication
devices is the majority of the market.
-Collapse of time and space; distance is no longer a factor.
Binding/unifying (or fragmentive?)
-A tool for unity. Ex: The Queens jubilee in the 1920s united many Canadians through the radio; they
had never done that before.
-1930s: War of the Worlds (Orson Wells) caused a mass panic. People were bound together in their fear
using the radio.
-9/11 and Kennedy assassination binds us together in history. -Personalization of media and news disallows us this binding agent. The atomization/fragmentation of
society is easier.
-We cannot develop a sense of nationhood if we live in our own tailored news environments.
-Fragmentation in Canada becomes worse because of distinct regional identification (language,
1. Convergence (Blurring of sectoral boundaries)
a) Technological end of distinction between content and carriage
-Carriage was the infrastructure; content was the stuff that went through it. Up until the 90s, if
you provided infrastructure, you could not provide content (Bell Canada provides infastructure,
but couldnt regulate content).
-Rogers couldnt get into the carriage gate (infrastructure). There was a clear distinction.
-A feat of engineering and vertical integration.
b) Commercial bundling of services
-Cell and TV services together, etc. This was seen as being anti-competitive and detrimental to
c) Corporate consolidation of media companies
-Bell is buying out Astral Media.
Vertical Integration: The combination in one company of two or more stages of production normally
operated by separate companies.
Horizontal integration: buying a business that has nothing to do with your business.
ex: Bell acquiring Maple Leafs sports and entertainment.
Concerns with integration:
1) Reduction of the quality of the company due to pressure of quarterly profits.
2) Homogenization of content. Ex: trashy reality TV has taken over the market.
2. Regulatory uncertainty
-Control of diffusion of content?
It was common to hear historically that the government couldnt patent content. Now, we know that to
be false (ex. Online)
-Canadian content rules?
Fears about the social media platforms etc. do in protecting Canadian content. The CRTC ruled in the
past not to regulate Canadian content.
-Liberalism vs paternalism
How much regulation, what to regulate, and how to regulate it? Old Media vs. New Media
-limited supply of homogenous content
-Undifferentiated reception and effect
-delivered to passive mass audience
Binding effect for audiences
Emerging Digital Media
-multiple and diverse sources
-multiple and diverse content
-varied and unpredictable reception and effect
-delivered to fragmented audience
Models of Communication
Definition of Communication: transmission of messages production and exchange of meanings
-Text presents communication as a social action of conveying one message to another.
Object of Study: how senders and receivers encode and decode messages
-how transmitters use channels and media of communication
-how and why communication breaks down
-how messages or texts interact with people in order to produce meanings
-connection between the meanings people make and the culture(s) in which they live
Main Concern: efficiency and accuracy of communication role of texts in culture
View of Communication: form of social interaction
-process by which one person affects the behavior or state of another
-form of social interaction
-communicative social interaction as constituting the individual as a member of a particular culture or
Definition of a Message : that which is transmitted in the communication process
-intention or intended meaning as crucial factor
-as a construction of signs which, through interaction with receivers, produces meanings,
-conscious and unconscious meanings;
-cultural assumptions and values
View of Misunderstanding