Starting Points Chapter 14 Notes
* Discuss various theoretical approaches to media
* Recognize the role of mass media in shaping popular opinion
* Analyze the positive and negative effects of mass media on society
* Learn about the influence of media ownership on content
* Consider inequalities in media access and their effects
* Mass communication; the transmission of a message from a single source to multiple recipients at the same time
* The media today are very different from what they were, a century ago.
> Trend today, is toward more and more flexible communication devices such as tv and internet.
* Mainstream mass media today often have to compete with new media sources like online blogs and websites
> Traditional mass media still remains important
> because we have not figured out how to deal with all the information prosperity issues a complete changeover would
* Modern communication has also come to rely on new technologies that, to some degree, have replaced contacts with
more distant contacts.
Ways of looking at,,, Mass Media
* functionalists are interested in the way the mass media are organized and ow this organization contributes to social
equilibrium or stability.
> they are interested in the role of media as a mechanism for informing, socializing, and educating the public.
> there is a large literature that shows media literacy and mass media consumption are important factors in `modernization` - the development of non traditional, mainly Western knowledge..
> mass media increase people`s knowledge, bringing out social change
* Limitation to the process above is, if people mainly consume media that are hostile to modernity or Westernization
(anti western transmissions), they are less likely to modernize in this way
* Marshall McLuhan “Medium is the message”
> information flows by itself increases the appetite for more information; and more information seems to increase
interest in variety and debate.
> The media create and feed curiosity about the world
> Media re significant forces in social engineering through mediated health promotion. Political messaging, and religious
* By contrast, critical theorists are interested in the ways powerful groups in society use the media they own or control
to further organizational and class interests.
> political economy perspective ; a view point that focuses on the ways private ownership affects what is communicated,
and the ways it affects the exercise of the power
> Critical theory is useful in understanding the use of media in politics, to manipulate public opinion about particular
candidates or issues.
* Cultivation theory devised by Gerbner and Gross. (1976)
> The theory asserts that mass media- and television have become the main source of information in society today.
> Heavy TV users are affected by `Mean World Syndrome`- a heightened state od insecurity, exaggerated perception of
risk and danger, and a fearful propensity for hard line political solutions to social problems.
> According to him, television creates a homogeneous, almost universally fearful populace.
* The theory view vies audiences as passive, bringing little or no skepticism to the ideas received from the media.
> According to this, the mass audience is vulnerable and easily manipulated; ideas propagated by the media are often
accepted, significantly influencing large groups into conforming.
* One reason for the popularity of the cultivation theory is that it is easy to appy to a wide range of texts. > Disadvantage is that the theory denies people agency, ignoring the intelligence of audiences and their willingness to
evaluate what they hear.
Classic Studies… Deciding what’s News
* Herbert J Gans was the first researcher to look at media as filters, from sociological perspective in the book ` Deciding
> book examines the intricate way the news world works, and the way what happens in the real world becomes news
that we see on television.
> extensive participant observation at 4 companies, CBS NBC Times and Newsweek
> content analysis of nearly 3500 news spanning eight years
* Gans uncovered several important findings about journalism in the US
1, because news reporting is connected with gaining and keeping a mass audience, there is usually an inclination to
include at least some stories that appeal to a mass audience ; stories about famous people, violence and bloodshed,
scandals. “Negative news”
2, national news is shaped by, people in high positions: so stories are chosen that will improve their reputations. In
addition, news is chosen with the interests of the organization
3, the degree of consensus among news organizations is striking. Found that in all 4 organizations he studied, Gans
found similar views about which ideas and values to communicate. They include the value of individualism, a belief in
responsible capitalism, and a desire for social order and strong national leadership
4, much of the news communicated to audiences is inaccurate or at least distorted. It is delivered in a way that benefits
people with power over the media institution. Media does this to make friends, avoid enemies and preserve itself.
* Graber (1979) believes that, despite its minor flaws, the book offers valuable insights into the often closed world of
news making and explained the rationales behind new choices.
* The book reveals the role of journalists and news media organizations in perpetuating the `political status` quo that
they helped to create. (Robinson 1980) Media Ownership
* Media broadcasting reflects the interests of the media owners. However, media ownership varies
> There are publicly owned media in Canada such as NFB, found by government
* Many critics believe that public media ownership is important for Canada
> however, others believe that these organizations are failing to foster a united Canadian identity.
* There are privately owned media in Canada.
> private ownership is mainly concerned with profit-making
> most of the Canadian tvs are privately owned
> Tim Warner, is the largest media company in the world
> In Canada the ownership is also concentrated
* The report found little justification for the ownership of newspaper chains by conglomerates with major interests in
other sectors like television.
> Such cross-ownership, the commission felt, would compromise journalism`s social responsibility to the reading public
and also result in lower spending by newspapers on editorial content and investigate reporting
> The public perceived that the quality of public journalism had declined, and diverse interests were less represented
than they had been before.
* The commission predicted that the growth of electronic publishing and telecommunication information, and the rapid
development of the electronic media, could present a critical problem for the future of the newspaper industry,
> but the commission`s report only had a little influence
> Newspaper publishers fiercely opposed creating the proposed Press Rights Council, arguing such a council would
promote government interference.
* For this and other reasons, interest in commission`s finding soon faded.
> Problem with Canadian media has continued unresolved > Main goal for them is still, immediate profit and service to political and corporate friends
* In Canada, preservation and protection of Canadian Culture has always been a touchy issue
> because Canada is next to US
> not much can stand up to it, unless you put a lot of money
> Private media business have no interest in making such a investment
> they favor American content, since they guarantee proft
* This has several implications
> this means that the organizations has to force private media companies to include Canadian content
> the government has to provide financial incentives to media producers to create new Canadian Content
> it means that public broadcasters have to carry the weight of Canadian content programming with insufficient funds
> thus, all these factors serve to undermine Canadian Culture in favor of American culture
* Since 1969, the CRTC has been the key independent public authority on the regulation and supervision of Canadian
media, ensuing media organizations comply with the policies and rules that have been put in place, such as Canadian
> Canadian medias are regulated by a federal broadcasting act
> the purpose of this act is, to strengthen Canadian culture through controls on related economic and political
Media and politics
* As Gans showed, the news publication is a carefully designed product that promotes a particular political and cultural
> News spreads propaganda and perpetuates mainstream capitalist ideology * much journalism today is biased in favor of one political party or ideology over another
> Newspapre companies are either conservative or liberal
> but they only show that slightly on the newspaper
* Media coverage of politics is based on polls rather than in depth analysis of issues.
> reflects “ vox populi” – the voice of the people
> fails to provide a close examination of competing views.
* By devoting most of the coverage to who is leading the race, news agencies increase the rates of `bandwagonism` -
people changing their views to side with the winner
> undecided voters often simply cast their ballots for the candidate who is projected to win, rather than engaging in the
* The media`s role in “agenda –setting” which focuses attention on some issues but not others
> primary goal is to show the favored candidate in a positive light and the opposing one to negative light
* Thus, it seems that often the role of the media in politics is neither informative nor integrative.
> In this way, media reproduces – rather than changes – the existing structure of power and opinion in society
* Globalization often spreads American values, beliefs, and lifestyles around the world through American owned mass
> such as movies
* many believe that constant exposure to American Films and other forms of media will weaken or even destroy a
distinctive Canadian culture
> one result of this one sided cultural flow – from US to Canada is that Canadians are starting to pay more attention to
how other countries and other media vies us > so recognizing the possibility of bias, we must be equally sensitive to the way the Western media represent the world
* even media coverage of human rights abuses is biased.
> naturally, there is a tendency to report abuses outside Western, capitalist world and ignore those within it.
> according to an analysis of human rights reporting by the Economist and Newsweek from 1986-2000, covering 145
countries, the media are more likely to report abuses when they occur in large, economically developed non-Western
> Poorer and less populous countries with equally serious abuses are often ignored
* Sociologist Jurgen Habermas (2006) famously written, `mediated political communication in the public sphere can
facilitate deliberative legitimation process in complex societies only if a self-regulating media system gains
independence from its social environments and if anonymous audiences grant a feedback between an informed elite
discourse and a responsive civil society`.
> this means, the mass media will play a politically important role inly when it has freed itself from its current biases and
preoccupations with profit making, and when informed elites are willing to honestly discuss issues with an informed
Classic Studies.. Material girls ; making sense of Feminist cultural theory
* Feminist researchers wer