February 20, 2014:
Media Research I: What the Media Do To Us
Media Research is a “tug of war” between the industry and the audience
● What does the industry want to know about the audience?
● What does the audience want/reject from the industry?
● Size and Reach of Audience
○ These numbers are the MOST needed data
○ How many people are listening to the radio?
○ How many people are going to the movies?
○ How many people saw that movie?
○ How are people watching TV? When?
● Anything you go on on digital technology is measuring and tracking your
● Audiences attend to media
○ The biggest concern is what is happening DURING media attendance
○ Effects Research
■ We are relying on the media more than each other
■ Social isolation - lack strong ties to our neighbors, families, and
friends, that was present before the mass media era
■ - “what is that quality of mass media where we are all engaging in
the same stuff?” - “our media might be our tool for our intellectual
advancements but that’s not what we want to use them for. We use
them to fulfill our most basic desires.”
■ Direct Effects: 1920s-30s, the mass media have powerful effects
on people; effect is immediate, direct, and uniform
● Immediate impact
● The mass media hit everybody who engaged
● War of the Worlds broadcasts MIXED UP this belief
○ Some people react in a serious manner
○ Some people understood that it was just a story
● Ultimately considered too dogmatic
■ Mass Society Theory: circa 1950s, contemporary society marked
by increased homogenization, decline in interpersonal interactions
● “We don’t want increased sameness in culture”
● Especially television
● “Others” were susceptible to media influences
○ Women, children, colored people, foreigners,
undereducated ● With mass media, we are increasing sameness
○ Audiences are incredibly passive
○ We absorb mass media messages
○ Homogenized culture does not think for itself
○ Assumed stupidity of audiences
■ Limited Effects: circa 1940s-50s, acknowledges people’s
individual differences and needs, media messages reinforce what
people already believe
● We watch what we already believe
● “Some people in some situations will be influenced
some of the time by some media messages”
● We do “walk in” with some beliefs
○ Audiences are still perceived as passive
● Two step flow of influence - Croteau and Hoynes
○ Circle of influence
■ Agenda Setting (or Priming): circa 1960s, media’s ability to set
the agenda for discourse, direct people’s attention to certain issues
(which effectively directs our attention away from others)
● Considered especially important in news and politics
● Media “Spin”
● Who learns what from what source about their civic leaders
influences voting and public opinions
○ How is that agenda set?
○ What are they presenting to me?
○ What might be left out?
■ Cultivation Analysis: circa 1960s-70s, begins with the
exploration of violence on TV concerned with heavy viewers of
● Mean World Syndrome: heavy viewers of television
believe the world is