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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Mass Media

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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

CHAPTER 5 NOTES MASS MEDIA Vanessa Miles Nov. 28, 2011 INTRODUCTION In 2007, average Canadian spent 18.3 hours a week listening to radio Hours vary by region, employment level, and age Hours spent watching television have been declining, while hours spent listening to radio remained stable These facts point to several changes in media technology and use Since early 1990s, Internet use has grown rapidly, especially in home Television viewing has suffered because of Internet, although with emergence of streaming and torrent software more people are watching television on Internet Despite the apparent decline in tv viewing, the overall picture of media use remain quite stable o Add movie viewing, newspaper and magazine reading to radio, tv, and Internet, it becomes clear that we send more time interacting with media than doing anything else, including working Media is the plural of medium, or middle hence the idea of media as the means for connecting two or more points o Associated with communication Communication bringing together or unifying by establishing shared meanings and understandings between groups and individuals Transmission of information, knowledge, or beliefs by means of language, visual images, and other sign systems such as music mass media communication flows are unidirectional, going from a transmission point such as tv, radio station to an audience whose members remain anonymous and isolated from one another interactive media like telephone or social networking websites, communications flow back and forth; people interact in transmission and reception of communication THE TECHNOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE derives from primarily from Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan Innis (1951) distinguished time-biased from space-biased media o Time-biased media modes of communication that endure over time but are relatively immobile across space Conductive to a strong sense of tradition custom, which promote religious forms of power and belief o Space-biased can cover much greater space but are less durable over time Assist territorial expansion, empire building, and secular forms of power and culture Dominance of military institutions and growth of state These different forms create different types of social division and conflict Innis ideas influenced McLuhan (1964) o McLuhan argued that the relationship between communication, on the one hand, and institutions and culture, on the other, was mediated by the way that forms of communication change our sense perceptions and cognitive processes o Encourages us to see world as comprising separate objects and to interpret that world in a linear, cause-and-effect way Abstracting effect of print, in turn fosters individualism, privacy, rationality, and social differentiation o Rise of nationalism and weakening of social ties o Tv marked the end of era of print dominance TV integrated sight and sound and achieves a better sensory balance o Allows communication to be almost instantaneous o Is more socially inclusive than print is and shrink social distances and time, creating a global village in which the expanded capacity for information gathering and transmission help make us more aware of, and familiar with, life in other parts of the world McLuhans views have proven controversial b/c he tended to see media technologies as an autonomous force that operates outside social and human control CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE Critical perspective has two variants, one emphasizing the relationship b/w media and inequality, the other emphasizing the relationship b/w media and social conflict o First variant derives from Marxism Media is defined in terms of how media serve the economic interests and political power of those who own and control the means of material production Dominant class also exercises control over the production of ideas, beliefs, values, and norms that constitute a societys dominant ideology Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (1972-1977) saw mass media as part of a broader culture industry that functions to create mass deception about exploitive and oppressive character of capitalist society Mass media is to distract and pacify people by feeding them standardised images and message that stifle the capacity for independent critical thought Contemporary example propaganda model o Media serve the interests of the leading political and economic class by filtering information to reduce or eliminate radical or subversive views (Herman and Chomsky 1988) Five Filters: (1) Medias orientation to profit making (2) their dependence on advertising for revenue and profit (3) their reliance on powerful institutions and individuals as sources of information (4) negative reaction what they call flak if the media deviate from promiting elite interests and values (5) their adherence to anticommunism as an overarching belief system o With decline of communism, fifth filter has morphed into war on terrorism Capitalist class and other powerful groups use dominant ideology to establish hegemony use of media and other cultural institutions (school system) to represent their interests , values, and understandings as natural and universal Although media usually promote understandings that conform to the dominant ideology, their message are always at least partially open to the challenge of competing interpretations POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE MEDIA Critical perspective draws attention to how social and cultural roles of media depend on their role as agents of political and economic interest
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