Mass Communication

Read Complete Research Material





Writing to his friend the Marquis de Lafayette in 1823, Thomas Jefferson voiced the importance of a free press in educating a democratic citizenry. “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure” (1905, p. 491). Jefferson's belief, shared by many of the other Founding Fathers, drew upon English political tradition and the liberal democratic theories of the Enlightenment and became enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Dolbeare, 1981). Democratic theory continues to emphasize the importance of public opinion within a democratic union. Key to that democratic union and public opinion is “the notion of the rational, well-informed citizen capable of advancing sensible arguments and making sound judgments; it focuses on political life and political controversies” (Noelle-Neumann, 1995, p. 43). Within modern societies, the news media are the primary means voters utilize to learn about public affairs. Consequently, this chapter focuses on the news media and its multiple roles and functions within the body politic. It explains the news media within the social constructionist paradigm (Gamson, 1988), reflecting and yet contributing to political culture. The chapter examines the news media as a source of information and as a mediator of political realities, whose roles are influenced by numerous social factors, for example, the politics of political news. Finally, the chapter explains the narrative frames used by news reporters, as well as the resulting implications of such for people's political realities.


The invention of printing in the 1400s and appearance of newspapers in the 1600s were watershed moments in human history. Since then, developments and improvements in mass media technologies not only transformed the way space and time was experienced and imagined, but they also changed intimate relations among individuals and groups. Therefore, an anthropological perspective on mass media is chiefly concerned with people's engagement with media and how that shapes their ideas of themselves and of the intimate and the distant, the places and peoples, and economic, political, religious, and cultural actions and their practices. Thus, ethnographic studies of production, transmission and reception of mass-mediated images, sounds, and ideas are concerned with how media technologies mediate between people rather than simply looking at the effects of media on individuals. The questions that anthropologists explore are: What meanings do individuals and groups make out of mass-mediated images and sounds? How do they negotiate ideas, practices of domination, power, and stereotyping embedded in the mass mediated programs? How do media technologies enable new forms of social interaction? How are existing social formations, such as the nation, the state, and ethnic groups, transformed? How does engagement with media transform the conceptions of space and time? How and to what effect do the marginalized groups use mass media? (Murdock,Graham,2004)

Although anthropology came late to the study of mass media, the latter as a domain of inquiry had a profound ...
Related Ads