Monday, 6 February 2012

Effects of mass media on society

  Effects of mass media on society

Effects of Mass Media can be defined as any change induced directly or indirectly through newspapers, films, radio and television. In the 19th century, the communication experts were of the view that access by the mass of population to the printed word might turn docility into uprising. The new man medium of cinema was similarly accused of wide range of effects while T.V. in the eyes of some is responsible for many of the ills of our time as though such media could be somehow divorced from social, political and cultural environments which produce them.

The timing of communication process, writes C.Seymour-Ure in the Political Impact of Mass Media (UK contable, 1974), is probably one of the most important determinants of mass media effects. If the timing is right, the media can often be the arbiter of crisis, by being in the most prominent position to define it. Because, of the agenda setting technique, the media may influence public opinion by determining the priority and importance and less importance of an issue by its own criteria.

According to James Watson and Anne Hill hypotheses about effects : "A few generalized hypothesis about affects can be tentatively posited : the media are probably more likely to modify and reinforce attitudes than change them; Media impact will be greater among the uncommitted than the committed; impact will be greater if all the media are saying more or less the same thing at the same time (Consistency) ; equally if the media are concentrating on a small rather than diverse number of stories (Intensity) and if they are repeating messages, images, viewpoints over and over again (Frequency)."

Monday, 6 February 2012 by Ask for Mass Communication · 8

Media hegemony

Media hegemony
The assumption of media hegemony is that the ideas of the ruling class become ruling ideas in society. According to this approach, the mass media are controlled by the dominant class in society which uses it as a vehicle for exerting control over the rest of society. Media hegemony is rooted in the Marxist economies. They argue that media contents in USA are shaped to suit the interests of the capitalists. While commenting on media hegemony, Altheide says that it seems to involve at least three assumptions that could be treated with evidence:

1.            The socialization of journalists involves guidelines, work routines and orientations replete with the dominant ideology.

2.            Journalists tend to cover topic and present news reports that are conservative and supportive of the status quo.

3.            Journalists tend to present pro-American and negative coverage of foreign countries, especially Third World nations.

According to Werner J. Severin and James W. Tankard Jr., Altheide argues that evidence can be found to cast doubt on each of these propositions. In . connection with proposition 1, Altheide cites studies showing that foreign affairs reporters take very different approaches while covering detente, depending on their individual backgrounds. In addition, other studies of journalists, backgrounds and attitudes show considerable diversity rather than homogeneity
As regards proposition 2, Altheide cites numerous examples, including but not limited to Watergate, in which the reporting done by journalists did not support the status quo. A study of press coverage of the 1971 Indian-Pakistan War (Becker, 1977) provides another example when the U.S. government shifted its policy to support for West Pakistan, the news coverage by the New-York Times actually shifted the other way.

So far as proposition 3 is concerned , surveys of journalists indicate that they tend to agree with the Third World position on many issues. Furthermore, research on television coverage of Nicarague during the Sandinista revolt showed that television presented the rebel case repeatedly and in some detail not exactly the kind of content that supports the status quo.
Two researchers who attempted to find studies testing the media hegemony idea found only three )Shoemaker and Myfield, 1984). Two supported the media hegemony idea while one did not.

Finally, if the mass media are in general giving support,to the status quo and corporate values, someone should inform Senator Jesse Helms, and his Fairness in Media group, of this fact. Senator Helms has been involved in efforts to buy the CBS television network because he thinks CBS News is too liberal.

The existence of fairness in media may be one of the best arguments that the mass media are ideologically neutral, since they are criticized by the left for presenting a conservative point of view and by the right for presenting a liberal point of view.

by Ask for Mass Communication · 2

Gate Keeping in Media

Gate Keeping

The term gatekeeping was originally used by Kwrt Lewin in his Human Relations (1947) to refer to (1) the process by which a message passes through various gates as well as (2) the people or groups who allow the message to pass (gatekeepers), may be individuals or a group of persons through whom a message passes from sender to receivers. A camera-person is a vivid example of a gatekeeper, who selects certain area for photographing which are then shown to the viewers. Editors of newspapers, magazines and publishing houses are also gatekeepers as. they allow certain information to get through and filter other information.

The selection and rejection of material is made according to a set of criteria determined by a number of factors such as the gatekeepers, back-ground, education, up-bringing and attitudes to the world plus the values, norms and traditional Wisdom of the organisation for which the gatekeeper works.

History and Orientation

Kurt Lewin was apparently the first one to use the term "gatekeeping," which he used to describe a wife or mother as the person who decides which foods end up on the family's dinner table. (Lewin, 1947). The gatekeeper is the person who decides what shall pass through each gate section, of which, in any process, there are several. Although he applied it originally to the food chain, he then added that the gating process can include a news item winding through communication channels in a group. This is the point from which most gatekeeper studies in communication are launched. White (1961) was the person who seized upon Lewin's comments and turned it solidly toward journalism in 1950. In the 1970s McCombs and Shaw took a different direction when they looked at the effects of gatekeepers' decisions. They found the audience learns how much importance to attach to a news item from the emphasis the media place on it. McCombs and Shaw pointed out that the gatekeeping concept is related to the newer concept, agenda-setting. (McCombs et al, 1976). The gatekeeper concept is now 50 years old and has slipped into the language of many disciplines, including gatekeeping in organizations.

  Core Assumptions and Statements

The gatekeeper decides which information will go forward, and which will not. In other words a gatekeeper in a social system decides which of a certain commodity – materials, goods, and information – may enter the system. Important to realize is that gatekeepers are able to control the public’s knowledge of the actual events by letting some stories pass through the system but keeping others out. Gatekeepers can also be seen as institutions or organizations. In a political system there are gatekeepers, individuals or institutions which control access to positions of power and regulate the flow of information and political influence. Gatekeepers exist in many jobs, and their choices hold the potential to color mental pictures that are subsequently created in people understands of what is happening in the world around them. Media gatekeeping showed that decision making is based on principles of news values, organizational routines, input structure and common sense. Gatekeeping is vital in communication planning and almost all communication planning roles include some aspect of gatekeeping.

The gatekeeper’s choices are a complex web of influences, preferences, motives and common values. Gatekeeping is inevitable and in some circumstances it can be useful. Gatekeeping can also be dangerous, since it can lead to an abuse of power by deciding what information to discard and what to let pass. Nevertheless, gatekeeping is often a routine, guided by some set of standard questions.

Conceptual Model

Source: White (1964)

Related to gatekeeping in media. For gatekeeping in organizations this model is not recommended.

Favorite Methods

Interviews, surveys, networkanalysis.

Scope and Application

This theory is related to the mass media and organizations. In the mass media the focus is on the organizational structure of newsrooms and events. Gatekeeping is also an important in organizations, since employees and management are using ways of influence.


A wire service editor decides alone what news audiences will receive from another continent. The idea is that if the gatekeeper’s selections are biased, the readers’ understanding will therefore be a little biased.

by Ask for Mass Communication · 0

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Normative Theories of mass communication

Explain normative theories of mass communication.

·         Professionalism, a crusade to clean up the media and make it respectable and credible, followed the era of yellow journalism; its objective was to eliminate shoddy and irresponsible content. 

·         Media professionals and social elites used normative theory to answer questions regarding media reform.  Social responsibility is the normative theory used in the United States.

·         Social responsibility theory

The Origins of Normative Theories of Media

Ø Two opposing viewpoints

o   Radical libertarians (First Amendment absolutists) & Technocratic Control

§  First Amendment absolutists take the idea of “free press” as literal and oppose government regulation.

§  Technocrats do not trust the media and believes in the use of regulators to act in the public interest. 

o   Propaganda and mass society theories are used to justify media regulation. 

Normative theory:

The type of theory that describes an ideal way for media systems to be structured and operated.

Normative theories:

1. Authoritarian theory

The theory that places all forms of communication under the control of governing elites or authorities. Under this theory , the intellect of a common is greatly undermined. Criticism on ruling elites is not tolerated. Many steps are taken to curb the freedom of press like licensing, censorships, approval of content prior to publication and punishments etc.

2. Libertarian theory

The Origin of Libertarian Thought

·         Libertarian theory opposes authoritarian theory, which requires all forms of communication to submit to governing elites.

·         If freed from authoritarian rule individuals would “naturally” follow their conscience, seek truth, engage in public debate, and create better life for themselves and others.

·         John Milton asserted in fair debate good and truthful arguments would always win out over lies and deceit, the self-righting principle. The self-righting principle is fundamental within social responsibility theory.

·         The founding fathers also subscribed to liberal thought.

·         Three fundamental concepts underpinning the founders’ belief in press freedom:

o   Theology

o   Individual rights

o   Attainment of truth

o   At the nation’s founding, the US was one of the first nations to adopt Libertarian principles lined out in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

o   Restrictions on communication:

§  Libel

§  Gag Orders

§  Regulations prohibiting false advertising, child pornography, and offensive language.

§  Laws have been written to restrict communication freedom so that other seemingly equally important rights might be guaranteed.

On the other extreme, there is libertarian theory, which considers that people are rational and have the right to all angles of an issue to decide between truth and falsehood. The government cannot interfere in matters of press.

3. Social responsibility theory

Press has a right to criticize the government and other institutions but it also has  a responsibility to preserve democracy by properly informing the public. The press is not free to do as it wills, it is obligated to respond to society’s needs. he government may involve itself in media operations by issuing regulations (e.g. Pemra), if public interest is not being adequately addressed.

·         The first major test of social responsibility theory occurred during the 1950s with the rise of anti-communist sentiments at the time of the Cold War.

·         Joseph McCarthy successfully used propaganda techniques to draw national attention to himself and to stimulate widespread public hatred and suspicion of people whom he linked, most often inaccurately, to communism.

o   This illustrates how difficult it can be for journalists to adhere to social responsibility theory in crisis situations.

Social Responsibility Theory
Once journalists began to doubt McCarthy, his popularity was so great that it was risky to oppose him.

1.     Values media responsibility
2.     Values audience responsibility
3.     Limits government intrusion in media operation
4.     Allows reasonable government control of media
5.     Values diversity and pluralism
6.     Aids the “powerless”
7.     Appeals to the best instincts of media practitioners and audiences
8.     Is consistent with US legal tradition

1.      Is overly optimistic about media’s willingness to meet responsibilities
2.      Is overly optimistic about individual responsibility
3.      Underestimates power of profit motivation and competition
4.      Legitimizes status quo

4. Communist Theory

It promotes communism and strives to achieve goals set by the communist party. Media is owned by the representatives of the communist state. It works best in a closed society where information is tightly controlled by the government.

5. Developmental theory

Government mobilizes media to serve national goals in economic and social development. Information is considered a natural resource and must be carefully manipulated to achieve national goals for literacy, economic self-sufficiency etc.It is considered that media should support the government until society is well developed.

Other Normative Theories

}  Developmental media theory: A normative theory calling for government and media to work in partnership to ensure that media assist in the planned beneficial development of the country

}  Democratic-participant theory: A normative theory advocating media support for cultural pluralism at a grassroots level

}  Western concept: A normative theory combining aspects of Libertarianism and social responsibility theory

}  Development concept: A normative theory describing systems in which government and media work in concert to ensure that the media aid the planned, beneficial development of a given nation

}  Revolutionary concept: A normative theory describing a system in which media are used in the service of revolution

}  Authoritarian concept: A normative theory advocating the complete domination of media by a government for the purpose of forcing those media to serve the government

}  Communism concept: A normative theory advocating the complete domination of media by a Communist government for the purpose of forcing those media to serve the Communist Party

}  Transitional media approach: A less category based, more flexible approach to evaluating media systems than traditional normative theory

Thursday, 2 February 2012 by Ask for Mass Communication · 1