Media literacy requires us to transcend the hypnotizing effect of new media gadgetry on our perceptions about communication. And, indeed, Internet-based mass communication has significant differences from legacy mass media like newspapers, network television, and recorded music.
Writing Prompt Applying Your Media Literacy – Digital Integration
Do you believe that there remain distinct lines between interpersonal communication and mass communication when the Internet is involved? Why or why not? Provide cross-over examples if possible.
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2.6 Technology and Mass Communication
Study Preview Theorists have devised models to help understand and explain the complex and mysterious technology-dependent process of mass communication. But many models, now more than 50 years old, have been outdated by rapid changes in technology. These changes have added more complexity and mystery to how mass communication works.
Learning Objectives By the end of this module you will be able to:
2.6.1 Lasswell Model 1. Objective: Apply the Lasswell Model to a media message
In the 20th century, scholars got serious about trying to understand how mass communication worked. Theories came and went. One of the most useful explanations for the nature of mass communication was articulated in the 1950s by Yale professor Harold Lasswell. His narrative model poses four questions:
Who says what?
In which channel?
With what effect?
Lasswell’s model is easy to apply as this example illustrates. Pick any media message, say former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth:
Understanding the Lasswell Model Who says what? Gore told a story based on expert testimony and recorded evidence about global warming. His message was that global warming is a human-accelerated phenomenon that threatens earth as a habitat for life as we know it.
In which channel? The documentary itself was a movie. Also, it was distributed widely in video form for home and group audiences. There also was a book bearing the same title.
To whom? Although unfriendly critics tried to dismiss the work as intended for penguins, the movie’s video and book quickly became best-sellers.
With what effect? Public attention quickly embraced the notion that it was possible for human beings, acting quickly, to counter the deterioration of earth as a habitable planet. Under former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California shifted into high gear with new public policies to reduce greenhouse emissions. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld tougher emission standards that big industries had resisted. These were effects.
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