Mass Communication: Occurs when a complex organization, with machine aid, produces and transmits public messages to large, heterogeneous and scattered audiences. Person to person is not mass media communication. Although I use MSN on a daily basis, this is only person to person. So are text messages. Myspace, on the other hand is a group of people communicating together. If anything reaches more than two people then it is technically mass media. The other to type of communication is interpersonal, communication without the aid of machine. Another way of putting this would be if you are “in person” with her/him you are communicating interpersonally. There are two traditional forms of mass media. (Hot) media: newspapers, magazines, books, or (Cold) media: television, radio. The newest addition is of course the Internet. Whether this means a third type of media is created or the Internet is cold or hot is still up for debate.

    Elements in Mass Comm. process:
  • source: initiates process, has idea or thought to share
  • encoding process: activities source goes through to translate thoughts and ideas that may be perceived by the senses
  • message: physical product
  • channel: ways message is transmitted
  • decoding process: opposite end of process, creates meaning by receiver
  • receiver: target of the message
  • feedback: response of receiver
  • noise: interference with delivery of message

Uses and Gratifications Theory

On a daily basis without missing I have between 15-20 minutes for news, ¾ of that online - via BBC News, and ¼ of that time scanning the NY Times. This is my mainstream time for cognition, “the act of coming to know something,” (page 43) or learning. Both functions of cognition were used in my daily routine of news watching, “using the media to keep up with information on current events, and using the media to learn about things in general or things that related to a person’s general curiosity.” (page 44) I wanted to know what was going on in the world, what political leaders have done or said recently, and what governments are changing policies or acting upon a policy. This week while reading up on the BBC I read a report on a rare species of bird was spotted in India, and a picture of it is now on my desktop nicknamed “Pudge.” Click here for that article A direct affect of my reading news resulted in me learning about this bird species and remembering it with a picture.

Stimulation – relief from boredom or routine activities of everyday life, relaxation – escape from pressures and problems of day-to-day existence, and emotional release – release of pent-up emotions and energy,” (page 44-45) is often used by me directly after school or is an all weekend event during my daily routine. I easily average an hour of diversion a day. I use diversion practically any time I travel. The radio is on whether I am in the car or the bus as a stimulation. I personally hate traveling, I wish we could have instant teleportation… but thanks to media I can at least enjoy some tunes until invention meets new heights. On one particular day the form of diversion I used was relaxation. I played some Enya, a very relaxing flow of music helped me go to sleep by relaxing. When I watched The Black Dahlia, I found myself transforming social utility into a form of diversion, emotional release. The movie made me happy to be who I am because the movie was about people who had rather terrible problems. Between murders, schemes, and love lifes going haywire, it made me “comforted by seeing that other people have troubles greater than mine.” (Page 46)

Social Utility:
The Eagles vs. Giants game was the highlight of my social utility during the week. A room full of guys, all talking smack on the football players or cheering them on, some even had bets on the game. There was defiantly a conversational currency floating around. The entire game duration was dedicated to one subject, football, and more specifically that the Giants should not be able to beat the Eagles. The Eagles were seemingly crushing the Giants in the first half, but then the tables turned and the Giants came back, the game went into over time, and the Giants edged the Eagles. We talked about the game the next day, and even the next day. The phrase “Giants” became a sin. Any one who said it would cause groaning. It could be said that it helped bond my roommates together, we embraced the social aspect.

Although I do not have any strong “feelings of kinship and friendship with media characters,” (page 47) or a parasocial relationship, I could see a few factors of social utility when Steve Irwin died. It was big news, and I kind of felt for that guy. He pretty much single handedly made Animal Planet a big hit and was the world’s leading spotlight for all conversationalists. I did feel like I lost a friend to that sting ray. This occurrence was also the biggest news of that day or even few days. I logged onto MSN and my friend’s screen name was “In memory of Steve Irwin.” I quickly asked her what that was about and she told me he had died. I checked the news and the reports and sure enough, he had. Typical parasocial relationships would include such shows as Friends, Seinfeld, and Dramas.

Perhaps the brother of social utility would be withdrawal. Between the two I averaged at least two hours a day. A sister/brother relationship would feel correct because either a media form was withdrawal or it was social utility or it was neither. Depending on the day and how I felt would change how much withdrawal or social utility would occur in reference to mass media usage. Sometimes a lot of social utility would be followed by some withdrawal, but the point is that it was never both at the same time. “At times, people use the mass media to create a barrier between themselves and other people or activities.” (Page 47) I found my withdrawal media type of choice was music. Night time music or on the day I had to go get a new cell phone because mine broke were withdrawal in action – or inaction if you will. Escape from other people or activities. Concentrating on myself or trying to not think about other people. Even as I write now I am definitely attempting to withdraw myself from other people so I can concentrate. I turned my music slightly up to drown out the guy downstairs playing his drum music, to drown out the guys watching television talk about Terrell Owens possibly committing suicide, and to put some background music to relax my mind from thinking about ongoing activities and things needing to be accomplished.

Mass media is ubiquitous. If I wanted to be apart of mass media during a normal day or routine, I could reach it within seconds. Televisions are in nearly every setting or room, radios are in any vehicle I would travel in, and the Internet is at my grasp whenever I want via my laptop that I carry around. People are walking advertisements, buildings are stationary advertisements, and gossip or people talking about hot topics can produce trends or lead to merchandise sales. People are opinionated and are walking values or beliefs supporting this or that cause. Even trying to escape mass media would likely be to embrace it. If someone wanted to reach the wilderness, say their favorite lake they have to hike to. It is probably a couple of hours away in driving time. Using that car would result in using a product used by many – the car (which was sold by media forms), likely using the radio during that ride, and likely products used during the hike were bought from a grocery store who used mass media to sell them to that person. Mass media is pervasive. It permeates throughout all of our lives in the United States, connecting us to more people – people we wouldn’t necessarily be connected with otherwise, than ever before.

It’s interesting to note that magazine circulation is falling. This is the similar to when television came out. Magazines are still around today because they competed and evolved. They used to be general information generators. Now they are specific and oriented to very particular subjects and people. Now magazines are learning to compete against/with the Internet. The top magazines are creating extensive websites, whether free or only accessible by subscription, each has its own idea on how to evolve.

All facts and quotes based on and from:
Dominick, Joseph R., The Dynamics of Mass Communications, Media in the Digital Age, 8th edition, viewed Fall 2006.
A website with much of the book’s information and dialogue can been reached here.

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