Chapter 14: Media and Mass Communication
WAYS OF LOOKING AT MASS MEDIA:
mass communication- The transmission of a message from a single source to multiple
recipients at the same time
• Interested in the way mass media are organized and how it contributes to equilibrium.
• Media is a mechanism for informing, socializing, and educating the public.
• Media literacy and mass media are important factors in “modernization”.
• Interested in ways powerful groups use media to perpetuate their dominant ideologies. A
variant of this approach is the political economy perspective (focus on the ways private
ownership affects what is communicated).
• Important in understanding the manipulative side of mass media. e.g. over-coverage or
slanting of particular topics;
• Cultivation theory (Gerbner and Gross): mass media have become the main source of
information in society today. People believe the world is mean because they are exposed to
a lot of violence within media. (Mean World Syndrome)
TV normalizes violence, numbing violence for some individuals, while
heightening it for others.
Disadvantage: theory ignores the intelligence of audiences. In reality
communication is more complicated.
Classic Studies: Deciding What’s News
News wants audiences. There’s usually an inclination to include at least some stories that
appeal to mass audience. e.g. famous people, violence and bloodshed, and sex scandal.
Tendency to report “negative news” (attractive)
National news is shaped by and serve the interest of people in high positions- stories chosen to
All four organizations include value of individualism, belief in responsible capitalism, and desire
for social order and strong national leadership.
To summarize, the decision journalists make in choosing coverage is influenced by: • “news-worthiness”
• internal pressures
• tastes of the audience
• responsibility and ethics
Publicly owned (governments): use media for public service, educational programming
Privately owned (most mass media in Canada): concerned with profit making.
In the past individuals owned small media companies, however over time they have merged
under on large empire controlled by the same group.
In Canada ownership too is concentrated. Newspaper chains are owned by conglomerates, and
argued that such cross-ownership (ones corporation owns media businesses of diff types)
would compromise journalism’s social responsibility to the reading public.
The Royal Commission (Kent report) said:
• smaller news services are good, but may not survive
• electronic media and telecommunication endangers the press newspaper
As a result, the problems remain unresolved, and media still gets owned by large business
Private media companies don’t want Canadian content because it is not favourable over
American content- doesn’t make as large of a profit.
1. Canadian government, through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission (CRTC), has to force private media companies to include Canadian content
2. Canadian government has to provide financial incentives
3. Broadcasters carry Canadian content without sufficient funds
Media and Politics
• News stories are coded messages that promote a certain ideology about the nature of
society and social life.
• Most journalism today is (slightly) biased toward one political party or ideology, as reflected
in editorials etc.
Media can additionally influence voting by: • “Agenda-setting”: focusing on some issues but not oth