Mass communication is the study of how people exchange information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time. In other words, mass communication refers to the imparting and exchanging of information on a large scale to a wide range of people. It is usually understood to relate newspaper, magazine, and book publishing, as well as radio, television and film, even via internet as these mediums are used for disseminating information, news and advertising. Mass communication differs from the studies of other forms of communication, such as interpersonal communication or organizational communication, in that it focuses on a single source transmitting information to a large number of receivers. The study of mass communication is chiefly concerned with how the content of mass communication persuades or otherwise affects the behavior, attitude, opinion, or emotion of the person or people receiving the information.
Definition of mass communication։
Normally, transmission of messages to many persons at a time is called Mass Communication. But in complete sense, mass communication can be defined as the process through which a message is circulated extensively among people nearby & also throughout far extending areas such as entire countries or the globe.
What is Mass Communication?
Mass communication is the process of transmitting messages to a large number of scattered audiences.
Through mass communication, information can be transmitted quickly to a large number of people who generally stay far away from the sources of information. Mass communication is done through many mediums, such as radio, television, social networking, billboards, and newspapers.
Field of study
Mass communication is "the process by which a person, group of people, or organization creates a message and transmits it through some type of medium to a large, anonymous, heterogeneous audience."
[Pearce 2009, p. 624]
This implies that the audience of mass communication are mostly made up of different cultures, behavior and
. Mass communication is regularly associated with media influence
or media effects, and media studies
. Mass communication is a branch of social science
that falls under the larger umbrella of communication studies of communication
The history of communication stretches from prehistoric forms of art and writing through modern communication methods such as the Internet. Mass communication began when humans could transmit messages from a single source to multiple receivers. Mass communication has moved from theories such as the hypodermic needle model (or magic bullet theory) through more modern theories such as computer-mediated communication.
In the United States, the study of mass communication is often associated with the practical applications of journalism (Print media), television and radio broadcasting, film, public relations, or advertising. With the diversification of media options, the study of communication has extended to include social media and new media, which have stronger feedback models than traditional media sources. While the field of mass communication is continually evolving, the following four fields are generally considered the major areas of study within mass communication. They exist in different forms and configurations at different schools or universities, but are (in some form) practiced at most institutions that study mass communicatin
Advertising, in relation to mass communication, refers to marketing a product or service in a persuasive manner that encourages the audience to buy the product or use the service. Because advertising generally takes place through some form of mass media, such as television, studying the effects and methods of advertising is relevant to the study of mass communication. Advertising is the paid, impersonal, one-way marketing of persuasive information from a sponsor. Through mass communication channels, the sponsor promotes the adoption of goods, services or ideas. Advertisers have full control of the message being sent to their audience.
Characteristics or Features of Mass Communication
Mass Communication has all the features of general communication. In addition, it offers some unique characteristics because of its specialty in nature.
Large Number of Audience
The foremost feature of mass communication is that it has large number of audience. No other communication gets as many receivers as it gets.
Mass Communication is not only composed of a large number of audiences but also aims to heterogeneous audience. The heterogeneity here means that the audience may belong to different races, groups, section, cultures etc.
The audiences of Mass Communication are not organized in a certain area rather they are highly scattered in different geographical areas. The receivers of message of mass communication may stay any place of the country and even any place of the world.
The area of Mass Communication is wider than any other communication systems. In case of mass communication system, the message is structured, formal and standardized and that’s why it has acceptance all over the world.
Use of Channel
Mass Communication system uses various types of mass media channels such as-radio, television, newspapers, magazines etc.
Use of Common Message
Another unique characteristic of mass communication is that it sends the same message simultaneously to a large number of audiences staying far away from each other. If the audiences have the proper access to the media used by the sender they can easily get message wherever they stay in the world.
No Direct Feedback
Mass Communication does not produce any direct feedback. The reaction of audience cannot be known quickly here.
The flow of message in mass communication is outward, not inward. The basic objective of mass communication is also to send message to the people outside the organization who say far away.
Use of Technology
Mass Communication system uses modern technology in the process of production and dissemination of the message to be sent.
, is the collection, verification, presentation, and editing of news for presentation through the media, in this sense, refers to the study of the product and production of news
. The study of journalism involves looking at how news is produced, and how it is disseminated to the public through
such as newspapers
, news channel
, radio station
, television station, and more recently, e-readers
. The information provided pertains to current events, trends, issues, and people.
is the process of providing information to the public in order to present a specific view of a product or organization
. Public relations differs from advertising in that it is less obtrusive, and aimed at providing a more comprehensive opinion to a large audience in order to shape public opinion
. Unlike advertising, public relations professionals only have control until the message is related to media gatekeepers who decide where to pass the information on to the audience.
Communication researchers have identified several major theories associated with the study of mass communication. Communication theory addresses the processes and mechanisms that allow communication to take place.
Cultivation theory, developed by George Gerbner and Marshall McLuhan, discusses the long-term effects of watching television, and hypothesizes that the more television an individual consumes, the more likely that person is to believe the real world is similar to what they have seen on television.
[Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1986). "Living with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process" in J. Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.), Perspectives on media effects (pp. 17–40) Hilldale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates] Cultivation is closely related to the idea of the mean world syndrome.
Agenda setting theory centers around the idea that media outlets tell the public "not what to think, but what to think about." Agenda setting hypothesizes that media have the power to influence the public discourse, and tell people what are important issues facing society.
[McCombs, Maxwell E.; Donald L. Shaw (1972). "The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media". Public Opinion Quarterly 36 (2): 176]
The spiral of silence, developed by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, hypothesizes that people are more likely to reveal their opinion in public if they believe that they are of the majority opinion, for fear that revealing an unpopular opinion would subject them to being a social outcast. This theory is relevant to mass communication because it hypothesizes that mass media have the power to shape people's opinions, as well as relay the opinion that is believed to be the majority opinion.
[Noelle-Neumann, E. (1974). The spiral of silence: a theory of public opinion. Journal of Communication, 24, 43-51]
Media ecology hypothesizes that individuals are shaped by their interaction with media,
[Postman, Neil. "The Humanism of Media Ecology". Retrieved 9 November 2012] and that communication and media profoundly affect how individuals view and interact with their environment. [McLuhan, M.; Fiore Q.; Agel J. (1996). The medium is the massage: an inventory of effects. San Francisco: HardWired. ]
According to the Semiotic theory, communication characteristics such as words, images, gestures, and situations are always interpretive. All sign systems, entitled to be “read” or interpreted, regardless of form, may be referred to as “texts.” In the study of Semiotics, there is no such thing as a literal reading.
[Encyclopedia of Curriculum Studies]
Methods of study
Communication researchers study communication through various methods that have been verified through repetitive, cumulative processes. Both quantitative and qualitative methods have been used in the study of mass communication. The main focus of mass communication research is to learn how the content of mass communication affects the attitudes, opinions, emotions, and ultimately behaviors of the people who receive the message. Several prominent methods of study are as follows:
[Babbie, E. (2007). The practice of social research. Thomas Higher Education: Belmont, California. ]
Studying cause and effect relationships in communication can only be done through an experiment. This quantitative method regularly involves exposing participants to various media content and recording their reactions. To show causation, mass communication researchers must isolate the variable they are studying, show that it occurs before the observed effect, and that it is the only variable that could cause the observed effect.
Survey, another quantitative method, involves asking individuals to respond to a set of questions in order to generalize their responses to a larger population.
Content analysis (sometimes known as textual analysis) refers to the process of identifying categorial properties of a piece of communication, such as a newspaper article, book, television program, film, or broadcast news script. This process allows researchers to see what the content of communication looks like.
A qualitative method known as ethnography allows a researcher to immerse themselves into a culture to observe and record the qualities of communication that exist there.
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
is the major membership organization for academics in the field, offering regional and national conferences and refereed publications
. The International Communication Association
and National Communication Association (formerly the Speech Communication Association) are also prominent professional organizations. Each of these organizations publishes a different refereed academic journal that reflects the research that is being performed in the field of mass communication.
Pearce, K.J. (2009). Media and Mass Communication Theories. In Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (p. 624-628). SAGE Publications.
Hartley, J.: "Mass communication", in O'Sullivan; Fiske (eds): Key Concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies (Routledge, 1997).
Mackay, H.; O'Sullivan T.: The Media Reader: Continuity and Transformation (Sage, 1999).
Denis McQuail: McQuail's Mass Communication Theory (fifth edition) (Sage, 2005). *Thompson, John B.: The Media and Modernity (Polity, 1995).
Griffin, E. (2009). A first look at communication theory. McGraw Hill: New York, NY.
Babbie, E. (2007). The practice of social research. Thomas Higher Education: Belmont, California.
Braison agesa E'2013 study of mass communication