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20 Mass Media
Transcript of 20 Mass Media
Session 20: Mass Media
The masses/mass society
Public sphere (Jürgen Habermas)
Historical definition of medium: The intervening substance or agency between the “object” and the “organ”.
What is a medium?
- An intermediary form through which messages pass. In communication studies, when we speak of media, we mean the means of communication used to transmit information to an audience (film, radio broadcast, television broadcast, website, etc.). But other elements may also be a medium, albeit with limited range: smoke signals, a megaphone, other.
- Media are “delivery vehicles” for information
- A first premise in our Visual Cultures course is that messages need a medium. You cannot have a message without a medium. And at the same time, as we have already discussed, analysts of visual culture also contend that the medium is also an essential part of the message.
We discussed how every medium has a “bias,” meaning that it is more suitable for use over space, or over time.
Stele containing Hammurabi’s code, c. 1772 BC
Diggers' pamphlets by Gerard Winstanley, c 1650
What bias do each of these media have?
What bias does most of our media today have?
Different, specific media create specific experiences and give certain emphases to the message.
The media that we call “mass media” are more “spatial,”
meaning that they move over a wide geographical territory, but the messages do not last long in time.
Practice of creating program content and transmitting it to mass numbers of listeners or viewers over a broad geographical region, usually by means of a centralized network system.
The earliest methods for delivering television signals were all
terrestrial, meaning they were situated in one place on the ground. These systems used antennae or television antenna aerials to transmit and receive information. *
1) Message or information exists in reality
2) The information is formatted (becomes a visual text, delivered to viewers through a medium)
3) The formatted information is distributed by a system of delivery – the media as an industry.
4) One system of delivery may pick up a product from the others (remediation)
Mass mediation of visual texts – a sequence
Broadcast 1972, BBC
Published 1972, Penguin Books
by tw1975 on
- Media designed to reach mass audiences
- Media working in unison to generate specific, dominant representations of events, and also to shape shared tastes.
- Because broadcast media like television and
radio reach the masses simultaneously, they are a prominent form of “mass media.” Other mass media forms include cinema, the press (newspapers, magazines, etc.), the Internet
New York crowd looking into shop window, watching coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953
Masses - this term emerged in the 19th & 20th centuries to describe shifts in the way people live in industrialized countries. It describes new social formations during the rise of industrial capitalism.
Mass society – This term is used to suggest that the new concentrations of people in urban centers were subject to centralized, organized forms of national and international media.
– Populations more firmly consolidated in urban settings, thus sharing in “mass pleasures” like entertainment and shopping
- Corporation replaces the local workplace
We think of mass culture as a product of modernity.
– Increased industrialization and mechanization of modern
Broadcast media came to define American modern life of the 1950s, including its aspects of deep alienation.
Television is an ongoing electronic presence that is set to a timetable and continuously transmitted (Sturken and Cartwright, 156).
Restaurant, U.S. 1 leaving Columbia, South Carolina
Technological developments change the “shape” and distribution of mass media. First satellite television broadcasting: 1962
American engineers work on Telstar satellite,
launched into orbit by Nasa in 1962
Antenna One (Cornwall, England), used to receive the
first live television signals from the U.S. through Telstar satellite.
1965: first televised pictures of the moon
The international perspective: When was broadcast television first introduced? Country by country
In Egypt, the first national television
programming was broadcast on July 21, 1960
Egyptian television broadcast six hours of programming daily
One of the first broadcasts on Egyptian TV:
The Rising Generation
From the perspective of politics, why do we care about “the masses” and mass media?
The Public Sphere
A term defining a space where citizens come together to debate and discuss the pressing issues of their society. The concept originated with German theorist Jürgen Habermas, who defined this sphere as an ideal space in which well-informed citizens transcended their private interests to discuss public interest.
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere – An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society
(1962) proposed the ideal conditions of the public sphere as a place where democracy could be enacted via the conclusions of informed public discussion.
Habermas defined the public sphere as
"society engaged in critical public
debate”. Ideally, all citizens have access
to this space, for unrestricted and informed discussion about matters of general, public interest (as opposed to personal or private interest).
Some argue that mass media forms like television and radio have allowed for a more democratic flow of information, particularly as it makes information available to non-literate people.
The social impact of mass media on the public sphere
Others argue the opposite: From the beginning, the educated minority who could read and write maintain control of dominant meanings in society. Radio and television further this control by restricting authorship of information to those with access to the means of media production, creating a society of producers drawn solely from the ruling classes.
Others suggest that widely circulating media are essential in a democratic society, and must be protected and developed, because they provide and inform
spheres of participation
which can act as a check on the powers of government. This is the idea of the public sphere.
If you, as a broadcaster, know the area you are broadcasting to, you can have a good idea of the demographic of your audience.
Content can then be tailored to this audience.
As terrestrial television was first funded by advertising, the adverts would be constructed to appeal to the largest number of people in that demographic with the spare cash to buy things. Advertising was thus designed to appeal to bourgeois values - the values of people with spare money.
But how do you get the ratings to encourage advertisers to fund your broadcasts?
- You also tailor your
to appeal to bourgeois values.
Habermas argues that if you don't have a public sphere in which to collectively debate issues, citizens will not be equipped to influence their governments.
He says that in order to have a functioning representative government, you have to have a public sphere - and it is not a public sphere if you do not have mass media bringing information to everyone who can access it and then debate it.
Because We Have To Be Together, Mobinil ad 2013
Visual Culture textbook, 157-168 (stop at mid-page, with phrase “learning to draw rather than learning to see”) AND 106-110 (Stop before ‘Further Reading’).
A different distribution model.
Narrowcast media have a limited range through which to reach audiences, and hence are capable of carrying programming and advertising tailored to narrow, specific audiences.
Cable television is an example of narrowcasting. Cable TV signals are sent only to homes that have subscribed to the cable service.
Specialty television networks, each narrowcasting content, aim at serving the needs of smaller, specialized audiences.
But, they also track the preferences of these audiences so as to better sell things to them!