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Key to text pp. 261-284
A. Opening example...
1. Who’s seen? Impact? 107%
increase in sales.
2. Illustrates how traditional ―mass
media‖ messages are repeated in new media channels such as
B. Definition and characteristics of mass media
C. Message flow in mass media
D. Research on Media Effects: How does mass media influence us?
II. DEFINITION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF MASS
A. Examples of mass media?
B. Put in the context of our earlier ―action model‖ of communication
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C. Characteristics of mass communication (4 from book +2 more)..
1. Source and receiver are connected only indirectly through a
medium of some kind.
2. The sensory input potential for receivers is limited compared to
3. Receivers have less control over the source – less feedback
4. Sources are usually not single individuals but complex
5. Receivers form a relatively large, diverse audience. This is true
even when different messages are sent to different market
6. Receivers are assumed not to communicate with each other.
7. Though it can be very powerful, mass media are generally less
emotionally engaging than interpersonal, face-to-face
communication. (being at a concert vs. watching video)
D. These characteristics often create a dilemma for mass media sources:
1. One the one hand, the need to do everything they can to capture
and hold audience attention—striking messages, multiple
messages (e.g., banners, overlays) and rapid transitions (e.g.,
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2. On the other hand, research shows that people do not recall
multiple pieces of information presented all at once as well as
pieces presented separately. (see discussion of ―news crawl‖, p. 272)
So media gets our attention, but we don’t remember much.
III. MESSAGE FLOW AND MESSAGE PROCESSING
A. We usually think of media messages
flowing to relative passive receivers
who uncritically soak them up...
1. Usually called the Hypodermic
model or theory of mass media.
2. Assumes that media messages
have direct and immediate effects
3. So... it’s simple....
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C But media effects are rarely this simple...
1. Receivers practice selective exposure— selecting communication
that will confirm or reinforce their existing opinions, attitudes, and
2. Receivers practice selective attention—filtering out information that
is of less interest or that doesn’t agree with them.
3. Selective exposure and attention are both influenced by our goals
for consuming media.
a. Media researchers usually talk about this in terms of ―uses and
b. We’re actively making choices about media in order to meet
our own individual needs at a particular moment.
c. Many different types of functions have been identified. Here is
a list of five general needs (Katz, Gurevitch and Haas,1973; Severin
& Tankard, 1997)
Cognitive needs—Acquiring information, knowledge and
Affective needs—Emotion, pleasure, feelings.
Personal integrative needs—Credibility, stability, status.
Social integrative needs—Family and friends.
Tension release needs—Escape and diversion
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4. To make things even more complicated, media messages are often
filtered through our interpersonal networks.
a. Classic hypodermic models assume that receivers don’t talk to each
other—but we know this is false.
b. We actively discuss the media and those discussions almost always
change the effect of the message:
May change interpretation
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c. Some audience members will have more influence – opinion
leaders: the people in a network whose opinions have more
weight, who are sought out by others.
5. Sources get more feedback and are more sensitive to it than the
hypodermic models assumes.
a. Many media messages are tested with potential audience members
even before they go out...
b. Feedback from advertisers can even shape how the news is
c. And feedback from
effects on media
– June 27, 1994
covers of Time
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IV. THE WAY THAT MASS MEDIA DOES AFFECT US..
(some in text, some not)
A. So far, I’ve suggested that mass communication’s effects are not simple.
They are complicated by all the factors in the last section. But what
kinds of effects does mass communication actually have?
B. Diffusion of information (see p. 274-276)
1. Mass media are tremendously effective at spreading information of
all kinds of information—news, sports, entertainment, gossip.
2. The book points out that TV was the main source of information for
people right after the attacks of 9/11/2001 – even among heavy
internet users, 80% depended on TV.
3. News, new ideas, gossip
spread from ―early
adopters‖ to more people
(―early majority‖) and
then most people (―late
majority‖) and then finally
even to those who are
slow to change
(―laggards‖) – see text.
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4. Research shows
C. Agenda Setting
1. The media do not tell you what to think about an issue as much as
they tell you what issues to think about.
2. Agenda setting – the increased visibility and priority given to an
issue as a result of repetition by major media sources.
a. Newspapers have traditionally been important, especially
―newspapers of record‖ (New York Times, Wall Street
Journal, Washington Post).
b. Within the past few years, however, television and the
―blogsphere‖ have become increasingly important.
c. So where a story appears is important, but also how often it
d. The book (p. 280), notes several other ways that a media
source can ―set the agenda.‖
D. Framing Effects
1. In addition to putting some issues in the spot light, media sources
organize the elements within them in broad ways.
a. Provide definitions of the problem
b. Diagnose causes
c. Link elements of a story together
d. Make moral judgments
e. Suggest remedies.
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2. Recent examples of alternative frames in the media:
a. Iraq: Did we escalate the conflict, or have a surge? (2nd term
implies temporary change, first does not)
b. Money spent by the government: is it taxpayer’s money or
c. Iraq: Was what happened in Abu Ghraib prison an ―instance of
prisoner abuse‖ or a ―policy of torture‖ ? (see text for
discussion, p. 282)
3. Framing effects go far beyond what
terms we use, but also influence
our entire approach to issues and
stories in the news (and
a. Example of this is what’s called
the ―game frame‖ approach to
b. Stories are often framed as a
political contest between sides and then followed to keep
track of the ―score‖ as the ―game‖ unfolds.
c. Game frames distort our understanding and discussion of
important issues in three ways:
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E. Scripting and Modeling (not in text)
1. Let’s explore this last one with an example – how many of you have
heard sexually explicit music lyrics? How many of you have
heard a lot of them—maybe even music that was sexually
degrading to woman in some way?
Example: degrading sexual reference…( Ja Rule, ―Livin’ it
“Half the ho‟s hate me, half them love me
The ones that hate me
Only hate me „cause they ain‟t fucked me
And they say I‟m lucky
Do you think I‟ve got time
To fuck all these ho‟s?”
2. According to social cognitive theory, people learn how to perform
new behaviors by observing others. We imitate behaviors that
seem to have value for others – that are ―functional.‖
3. People often learn ―scripts‖ from media role models. A script is
basically a guide for how to act…
4. Scripting and imitation should be most likely to occur when:
a. There few other models or one type of model is seem over
b. When the role model is rewarded or at least not punished for
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5. In 2006, Martino and colleagues published a study of popular
music lyrics and sexual activity among 12-17 year olds in
a. They measured how often they listened to sexually
degrading popular music lyrics.
b. Also measured when they became sexually active and what
sexual activities they engaged in.
c. Over a 2 year period, youth who listened to great amounts of
sexually degrading music were more likely to become
sexually active and engaged in more advanced sexual
activity (e.g., sexual touching vs. intercourse).
-- and that was after controlling for gender, ethnicity,
amount of parent oversight, how religious, and a
large number of personality variables