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Mass media

Parent categories: mass - media

While some have placed the origins of mass media in the Enlightenment era, I hold that it is a product of the Industrial Revolution and started in the 1830s with the arrival of advertising-supported cheap newspapers and culminated in mass literacy created by late nineteenth-century educational reforms. [May 2006]

Related: celebrity - culture - culture industry - consumerism - fame - media theory - new media - popular

Manifestations: advertising - cinema - internet - magazine - news - radio - television - writing


Mass media are those media reaching large numbers [mass] of the public via radio, television, movies, magazines, newspapers and the World Wide Web. The term was coined in the 1920s with the advent of nationwide radio networks, mass-circulation newspapers and magazines.

During the 20th century, the advent of mass media was driven by technology that allowed the massive duplication of material at a low cost. Physical duplication technologies such as printing, record pressing and film duplication allowed the duplication of books, newspapers and movies at low prices to huge audiences. Television and radio allowed the electronic duplication of content for the first time.

Mass media had the economics of linear replication: a single work could make money proportional to the number of copies sold, and as volumes went up, units costs went down, increasing profit margins further. Vast fortunes were to be made in mass media. --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_media [2004]


Mass media is first recorded 1923. --http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=mass [Oct 2005]

Mass media and public opinion

The mass media plays a crucial role in forming and reflecting public opinion: it communicates the world to individuals, and it reproduces modern society's self-image. Critiques in the early-to-mid twentieth century suggested that the media destroys the individual's capacity to act autonomously - sometimes being ascribed an influence reminiscent of the telescreens of the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Later empirical studies, however, suggest a more complex interaction between the media and society, with individuals actively interpreting and evaluating the media and the information it provides. In the twenty-first century, with the rise of the internet, the two-way relationship between mass media and public opinion is beginning to change, with the advent of new technologies such as blogging. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_media_and_public_opinion [May 2006]

Elitist criticism of mass media

Among European intellectuals hostility to newspapers was widespread. The rabble 'vomit their bile, and call it a newspaper', according to Nietzsche. 'We feel contemptuous of every kind of culture that is compatible with reading, not to speak of writing for, newspapers." Surveying the cultural scene in the Criterion in 1938, T. S. Eliot maintained that the effect of daily or Sunday newspapers on their readers was to 'affirm them as a complacent, prejudiced and unthinking mass'. The cultural arbiter F. R. Leavis carried on an extended campaign against newspapers, and the linked evil of advertising, in the pages of Scrutiny. The mass media aroused 'the cheapest emotional responses,' he warned; 'Films, newspapers, publicity in all forms, commercially-catered fiction - all offer satisfaction at the lowest level." Scrutiny itself made no bid for the popular market, never printing more than 750 copies per issue in the 1930s. --via The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992) - John Carey

Mediazation, experience and aura

Prompted by this post by The Reading Experience blog to John Dewey's Art as Experience (1934) I started thinking about the concept of mediazation, a word to which one only finds 344 references on the web. A much more common word that denotes the same quality is mediated, of which there are 77 references on Jahsonic alone, most prominent of which are the references to mediated sex and mediated violence. Mediatedness and mediazation are key concepts in modernism and postmodernism. One might even argue that if modernity started after the Middle Ages and the arrival of print culture for the happy few, postmodernity started with the advent of the mediazation of mass society, with the replacement of aura and direct experience by the mediated experience (which coincides with the arrival of print culture for the masses). If one follows this through it would appear that the shift from modernity to postmodernity is only one of degree.

From the web:

For Shaviro, Cronenberg is not simply an illustration of postmodern media theory. Rather, “the brutally hilarious strategy of Videodrome is to take media theorists such as Marshall McLuhan and Jean Baudrillard completely at their word, to overliteralize their claims for the ubiquitous mediazation of the world.” Footnote But the difference between Cronenberg and (for example) Baudrillard is Cronenberg’s insistence on the palpability of mediated experience: --William Beard via http://iceberg.arts.ualberta.ca/filmstudies/Videodrome.htm [Nov 2006]

Experience, quipped Oscar Wilde, is the name one gives to one's mistakes. Does aesthetic experience then name the central blunder of modern aesthetics? Though long considered the most essential of aesthetic concepts, as including but also surpassing the realm of art, aesthetic experience has in the last half-century come under increasing critique. Not only its value but its very existence has been questioned. How has this once vital concept lost its appeal? Does it still offer anything of value? The ambiguous title, "the end of aesthetic experience," suggests my two goals: a reasoned account of its demise, and an argument for reconceiving and thus redeeming its purpose.

[...] Modernization and technology, Benjamin likewise argued, have eroded aesthetic experience's identification with the distinctive, transcendent autonomy of art. Such experience once had what Benjamin called aura, a cultic quality resulting from the artwork's uniqueness and distance from the ordinary world. But with the advent of mechanical modes of reproduction like photography, art's distinctive aura has been lost, and aesthetic experience comes to pervade the everyday world of popular culture and even politics. Aesthetic experience can no longer be used to define and delimit the realm of high art. Unlike Adorno, Benjamin saw this loss of aura and differentiation as potentially emancipatory (although he condemned its deadly results in the aesthetics of fascist politics). In any case, Benjamin's critique does not deny the continuing importance of aesthetic experience, only its romantic conceptualization as pure immediacy of meaning and isolation from the rest of life. --Richard Shusterman via http://www.artsandletters.fau.edu/humanitieschair/end-aesth-exp.html [Nov 2006]

See also: aura - live and mediated popular culture - experience

The Internet and mass media

During the last decade of the 20th century, the advent of the World Wide Web marked the first era in which any individual could have a means of exposure on the scale of mass media. For the first time, anyone with a web site can address a global audience, although serving high levels of web traffic is still expensive. It is possible that the rise of peer-to-peer technologies may have begun the process of making the cost of bandwidth manageable. it is hard to determine the authenticity and reliability of information contained in web pages. The invention of the internet has also allowed breaking news stories to reach around the globe within minutes. This high speed exposure is typically good, although it has caused several mistakes. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_media [May 2005]


Sensationalism is a manner of being extremely controversial, loud, attention-grabbing, or otherwise sensationalistic.

The term is commonly used in reference to the media. Critics of media bias of all political stripes often charge the media with engaging in sensationalism in their reporting and conduct. That is to say they charge that the media often chooses to report on shocking or attention-grabbing stories, rather than relevant or important ones. --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensationalism [2004]

The Media Book (2002) - Chris Newbold, Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Hilde Van Den Bulck

  • The Media Book (2002) - Chris Newbold, Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Hilde Van Den Bulck [Amazon.com]
    The Media Book provides today's students with a comprehensive foundation for the study of the modern media. It has been systematically compiled to map the field in a way which corresponds to the curricular organization of the field around the globe, providing a complete resource for students in their third year to graduate level courses in the U.S. -- Book Description
    1 Theory and Media Research, Oliver Boyd-Barrett
    1. On the Uses of Theory: an Example
    2. Theory and Ideology
    3. Demarcating the Field
    4. Different Theories in the History of Mass Communication Research
    5. Administrative and Critical Traditions
    6. Theory Circles and Spirals
    7. The 'Big Three': Further Observations
    2 Tools for Studying the Media, Hilde Van den Bulck
    8. The Nature of 'Scientific' Research
    9. Quantitative Survey Research
    10. Qualitative Survey Research
    11. Ethnographic Field Research
    12. Quantitative Content Analysis
    13. Qualitative Content Analysis
    14. Document Analysis for Historical and Policy Analysis
    3 The Moving Image, Chris Newbold
    15. Understanding the Moving Image
    16. The Early Moving Image
    17. Narrative Theory and the Moving Image
    18. Genre Theory and the Moving Image
    4 Media Industries, Roland Van Gompel, Hilde Van den Bulck and Daniel Biltereyst
    19. The Power of the Media Industries: Theoretical Positions
    20. Media Systems, Policies and Industries in Transition
    21. The Structures and Dynamics of the Media Industries
    22. News, Technology and the Paradoxes of Globalization: a Case Study
    5 The Analysis of Popular Culture, John Lough
    23. Origins
    24. Dominant Theories: Marxism and Ideology
    25. Main Areas of Cultural Studies Today
    26. Semiology and Beyond
    27. Criticisms of Cultural Studies
    6 Representation, Identity and the Media, Alina Bernstein
    28. Representation and the Media
    29. Gender and the Media: The Representation of Women and Femininity(ies)
    30. Gender and the Media: The Representation of Men, Masculinity(ies), Gays and Lesbians
    31. Representation, Race and Ethnicity
    32. Identity and the Media
    7 Advertising and Marketing, Rachel Eyre and Michel Walrave
    33. 'We're Surrounded!' Advertising in Society
    34. Theory, Method and Analysis
    35. Advertising, Regulation and Reputation
    36. Marketing Communiations: Possibilities, Limitations and Innovations
    8 Interactive Electronic Media, Gillian Youngs and Oliver Boyd-Barrett
    37. Globalization and the Internet
    38. Information and Communication Technologies
    39. Virtual Communities
    40. Media Technology for Distance Learning
    Selective Glossary of Key Terms

    Remediation: Understanding New Media - Bolter & Grusin

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