Chapter 18: The Mass Media
The Significance of the Mass Media
Illusion Becomes Reality
20 century movies blurred reality and fantasy
Eg. TheMatrix (1999) – people are hardwired to a giant computer that uses
human as an energy source and American Psycho (2000) – people become
victims of the mass media and consumerism, Patrick Bateman believes he is a
movie star and his victims are just part of the show – props, brands, etc.
Movies suggest that the fantasy worlds created by mass media as
increasingly the only realities we know as influential as religion was 500-
600 years ago.
Canadians spend 40% time interacting with mass media:
Marshall McLuhan 1960s – global village – the media are extensions of the
human body and mind. NOW it’s the opposite.
What Are the Mass Media?
Mass media – print, radio, television, and other communication technologies.
The word mass implies that the media reach many people. The word media
signifies that communication does not take place directly through face-to-
Technology intervenes in transmitting messages from senders to receivers.
Communication via the mass media is one-sided Few senders (producers)
for many receivers (audience members)
Eg. Less reader’s letter compared to writers in newspapers
Eg. Dr. Phil show has ordinary people but producers chose them and create
the program content
Eg. Few visit a personal website where many visit popular websites
Audience doesn’t exert much influence on mass media, they can tune in or
o Tune out cultural misfits BUT difficult because excludes us from
styles, news, gossip, and entertainment we aren’t passive
consumers rather we filter it based on our own beliefs and
The Rise of the Mass Media
Most mass media are recent inventions
o 2007 – iPhone released
First developed systems of writing were 5500 years ago in Egypt and
Mass print media in 19 century 1 cent daily newspaper in US 1830s dominant till 1950
There was slow communication at the time physical transportation
Eg. Peace treaty signed but only got to the battle of New Orleans 15 days
Eg. 1883, there were many local time zones in North America. The 6 times
zones were determined and coordinated by instant communication by a
20 century was when the electronic media emerged.
Eg. 1920s, first commercial television broadcasts
Eg. 1969, ARPANET – US’s system of communication between computers that
would find alternative routes if the network broke down (nuclear attack)
internet 1991 world wideweb – hyperlinked system of texts, images and
Causes of Media Growth
Three factors: religious, political and economic
1. TheProtestant Reformation
o 16 century Catholics relied on Priests to interpret the Bible
o 1517 Martin Luther protested certain practices – wanted a personal
relationship with God.
o Protestantism was established in half of Europe Bible was the first
mass media in the West, and the best selling.
o Technological improvements allows the spread of the Bible
Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press invention
o Books are lasting, more than any other technology.
2. Democratic Movements
o After 18 century France, US, & other countries got representation in
democratic government depended on informed citizens and
wanted literacy and growth of press
o Mass media (TV) forms out outlook on politics.
o Eg.1960 US presidential election Kennedy won because he looked
better on TV
o Image consultants – image manipulation to get desired results
o Eg. Conservatives “negative advertising” of liberals
o TV & other mass media over-simplified politics marketing
3. Capitalist Industrialization
o Modern industries need literates, efficiency, communication mass
Theories of Media Effects Functionalism
As societies develop it becomes larger and more complex Institutions and
roles increases less face-to-face interaction
Need for new means of coordinating the operation of the various parts of
society mass media
Eg. To feel like Canadians – mass media lets everyone in all parts of Canada
feel like citizens of Canada. Nationwide distribution of media unites our
large, diverse, and spread out population.
Mass media functions:
o 1. Coordinates the operation of industrial and postindustrial societies.
o 2. Functionalists – mass media are agents of socialization
Mass media reinforces shared ideals of democracy,
competition, justice, etc. families still have exclusive right to
transmit norms, values and culture.
o 3. Involves social control; ensuring conformity.
Eg. TV shows display heroes as those who deserve the rewards
and villains as those who should be punished moral order
Eg. Jerry Springer is ridiculous BUT very conservative
enforce traditional norms about martial infidelities
o 4. Provides entertainment
Eg. TV shows, YouTube, movies all give us relaxation, pleasure,
and freedom of stress
Functional approach of mass media doesn’t point out the social inequality, it
exaggerates that mass media serves the interests of society.
In reality, mass media favors theinterests of dominant classes and political
o 1. Broadcast beliefs, values, and ideas that are widely accepted by
society including inequalities and injustices
o 2. It’s owned by a few people who profit from it
Five multimedia giants,fromlargest revenuetosmallest
o 1. CTV globemedia Inc. owned by Bell Canada – CTV network, radio,
newspaper 4.3 billion
o 2. Rogers Communication Inc. – cable TV and Internet, TV networks
radio 3.9 billion
o 3. Shaw Communications Inc. – cable TV and Internet, radio, TV
networks 3.1 billion
o 4. CBC/Radio Canada – publicly owned, bilingual TV and radio
networks 1.6 billion
o 5. Quebecor Inc. – newspapers, cable TV, and TV networks 1 billion 90% of mass media in Canada is privately owned concentrated media
Till 90s, media concentration was horizontal integration – control production
in their particular fields, now vertical integration – control production and
distribution in many fields by media conglomerate
Concentration of mass media in few people Conflict theorists believe mass
media deprives the public of the independent sources of information, limit
the diversity of opinion and encourage the public to accept their society as it
is. When few conglomerates dominate the production of news, there is no
alternative points of view.
o Eg. Quebecor Media’s Sun News Network conservative controlled
Edward Herman and NoamChomsky mechanisms to bias thenews that
supports powerful corporate and political interests:
o 1. Advertising – large corporations earn revenue, seek to influence the
news so it will reflect their best interests
o 2. Sourcing – news relies for information on press releases, news
conferences, and interviews organized by large corporations and
government agencies. News would be in the corporation’s best
interests. Unofficial sources used less because it’s the minority side.
o 3. Flak – governments and big corporations attack journalists who
depart from official and corporate points of view.
Eg. Tobacco companies stop news saying it causes cancer
Conflict theorist’s arguments NOT convincing BUT mass media does support
core societal values.
o Eg. 63% of newspapers not influenced by advertisers, news agencies
still evade flak and news still shows alternative views.
o Eg. Support of democracy and capitalism (liberal bias) by mass media
Mass media endorse consumerism as a way of life in order to define
ourselves advertising fills media (23$ billion a year in Canada)
When mass media show less central values diversity of media opinion
o Eg. Specific government