Introducing Critical Media Studies
We learn things somatically – through direct sensory perception of our environment (seen ,
touched, looked, smell , feel , sound, taste,)
o Some of what we know is acquired through first hand, unmediated experience
o Sensory perception makes up a small percentage of the total things that we know
Vast majority of things we acquire symbolically . These are the things we acquire through
someone or something such as a friend, teacher, museum , textbook, photograph, radio , film,
television or the internet.
o This type of information is mediated because it came to us through some type of
indirect channel or medium.
o Medium comes from the latin word “medius” which means middle or which comes
between two things the way that television and discovery channel come between us
and the ocean floor for instance.
Prior to the advent of modern mass media, people were the mode of transmission as to how
media got transmitted from one person to another. But this method of transmission has several
o Messages travelled by word of mouth moved very slowly.
o As messages pass from person to person , each of which altered the information slightly
Modern mass media addresses a larger volume of people
Media studies focuses on the social and cultural consequences of the capacity to address large
numbers of people in remote locations simultaneously.
Who are the Mass Media ?
The media is a broad term that includes a diverse array of communication technologies such as
human beings, cave drawings, smoke signals, letters, and telegraph, telephone, books , magazines,
radio, film, television, iPods, cell phones, video games, and computers
Mass media: is the communication technologies that have the potential to reach a large audience in
o Ex : loud speaker is not a form of portraying mass media because the audience is NOT
Four different types of mass media are: print, motion picture, and sound recording, broadcast media
and new media.
- German printer Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable – type printing press in 1450,
sparking a revolution in the ways that human beings could disseminate, preserve, and ultimately
relate to knowledge.
- The invention of movable type allowed for relatively cheap production of a diverse array of
pamphlets, books, and other items.
- Benefits included: knowledge that could be recorded for future generations in libraries or
religious texts , and social power increasingly hinged upon literacy and ownership of printed
o Allowed the circulation of knowledge to farfetched cities across Europe.
- First printing press in Cambridge Massachusetts. The press was printing popular religious tracts
such as the Bay Psalm book, a 148 page collection of English translations of Hebrew by 1640. - Novels such as Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Tom Jones (1749) imported from England were also
- Religious tracts were eventually followed by almanacs, newspapers, and magazines. The most
well known early almanac, Poor Richard’s Almanac, which included information on the weather
along with some political opinions, was printed from 1733 to 1757 by Benjamin Franklin in
- The New York Sun , which is considered the first successful mass circulation newspaper , did not
begin operation until 1833,
- During the nineteenth and twentieth century, the newspaper industry experienced tremendous
growth. This continued in 1973 when “ US newspapers had reached a combined aggregate
circulation of 63 million copies daily”
- But since 1973, the newspaper circulation has steadily declined. The total circulation of weekday
newspapers had fallen to 55. 3 million or about 49 percent In US households.
- The number of magazine titles in the US have declined by 29 percent from 2000 to 2006
- The combined circulation of the top ten magazines in 2006 is roughly 20 million less than the
combined circulation of those same 10 magazines 9 years earlier.
- Despite the declining reading in newspapers and magazine industries, the book publishing
industry suggests that America is still reading.
Motion picture and sound recording
- Thomas Edison and his assistant William Kennedy created what would be the first new mass
media since print.
- Edisons first invention of the phonograph in 1877 was a device that played recorded sound and
his second, the kinetoscope in 1892, was an early motion picture device that showed short ,
silent film in peep show fashion to individual viewers.
- His goal was to synchronize audio and visual images into a film projector that would allow for
more than one viewer at a time.
- Development of the vitascope lead to the silent era
- The first feature length talkie was a musical film, the Jazz Singer, in 1927,
o Synchronization of sound and film lead to the development of “talkies” . The studios
were geared to produce a single commodity the feature film
- By the twentieth century profits from the sale of sound recordings quickly eclipsed the profits
from sheet music.
- This shift was fueled by the continuous development of cheap and easily reproducible formats
such as magnetic tape in 1926, long playing (LP) in 1948, CD , MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (Mp3)
- Media could now be directly brought to audiences over public airwaves. This was important
because it freed mass media from transportation for the first time in history.
- Radio came onto the scene first experimenting with transmissions as early as the 1890s and
making scheduled broadcasts in the 1920s
- Philo T Farnsworth applied for the first television patent in 1927 and CBS launching the first TV
schedule in 1941.
- 99 percent of US households have a radio and 98.2 percent have a television set. 4 million more
US households own a television than a telephone.
- Satellite (subscription) radio and cable (wired) television. Both technologies charge for content,
include some content that can not be broadcast over public airwaves, and trouble the
traditional understanding of broadcast media. - Satellite radio and cable television employ a digital signal which qualifies them for inclusion in
the category of new media.
- From 1970 to 2004 the number of US households with cable television has grown from 7 to 70
- “new media are the cultural objects which use digital computer technology for distribution and
- Development of digital television, film, photography, e-books, along with internet, websites,
online computer games, and internet capable mobile telephony.
- Will new media eventually become a part of all media and therefore be a meaningless category?
- The history of new media begins with the development of the microprocessor computer chip
- The 4 bit intel 4004, executed about 60,000 calculations a second
- The 486 microprocessor, could perform 54 million calculations per second.
- Intel’s Pentium Pro, introduced in 1995, increased in performance yet again to roughly 250
million calculations per second.
- Computers weren’t rapidly becoming more powerful, they were also rapidly becoming more
connected as well.
- Internet began to catch the publics attention in the 1970s when its potential for sending
personal electronic messages (emails) . the development of a graphic based user interface and
common network protocols in the early 1990s that popularized the internet by transforming it
into a hypothetical platform that we know now as the worldwide web.
- At the turn of the millennium , experts estimated that there were more than 8 billion web
pages, a number that was doubling at the time every 6 months
Living in Postmodernity
- Postmodernity , refers to the contemporary moment given its wise use by media s