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The Dynamics of Mass Communication


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Title: The Dynamics of Mass Communication

The Dynamics ofMass Communication
Seventh Edition
  • Joseph R. Dominick

Part 1 The Nature and History of Mass
Chapter 3 Historical and Cultural Context
Seven Milestones in the Historyof Human
  • Language 200,000-100,00 B.C.
  • Writing 3500 B.C.
  • Printing A.D. 1500

Seven Milestones in the Historyof Human
  • Photography and
  • Motion Pictures 1800s 1900s
  • Telephone and
  • Telegraph 1800s 1900s
  • Radio and Television 1900s
  • Computers / Internet 1900s

The Seven Milestones Timeline
  • Made possible oral-based societies
  • Members needed exceptional memories
  • Premium on older people as memory banks
  • Limit to stored and accessible knowledge
  • Challenges
  • How to keep information accurate
  • Passing knowledge from one generation to next
  • Difficulty keeping long-term records

  • Two initial problems
  • What symbols do you use to represent ideas?
  • What writing surface works best?

Sign Writing vs. Phonetic Writing
  • Two approaches
  • Graphic symbols representing objects
  • Chinese pictographs
  • Egyptian hieroglyphics
  • Abstract symbols (alphabet) for ideas/sounds
  • Phoenician 24-character alphabet
  • Roman-modified 26-character alphabet

Clay vs. Paper
  • Cuneiform Sumeria wedge-shaped clay tablets
  • Papyrus Egypt woven papyrus plants
  • Parchment Greece sheep/goat hides
  • Paper China pressed wood and fiber pulp

Social Impact of Writing
  • Created social divisions readers vs.
  • Access to power garnered through knowledge
  • Encouraged birth and growth of ancient empires
  • Collective knowledge accumulates over time
  • Laws codified and universally administered

Writing During the Dark Ages
  • Begins with fall of Rome in the 6th century
  • Demand for books continues to rise, but . . .
  • Slow, costly hand-copying restricts supplies
  • Mistakes common and cumulative

Writing During the Dark Ages
  • No filing or cross-indexing system in place
  • Content moves from religion to lay areas
  • Trade spreads, universities begin, AD 1150
  • European Scriptorias (writing shops) flourish

The introduction of moveable type is the start of
mass communication, an event of immense
importance to Western civilization.
  • Effects of the Gutenberg Revolution

Standardizes, popularizes native languages
Which, in turn, encourages nationalism
Information now available to common man More
books fuel demand for wider literacy
  • Effects of the Gutenberg Revolution

Spawns new social and religious doctrines Speeds
books, research in scientific research Encourages
exploration with maps and exploits Human
knowledge base grows exponentially Eventually
leads to what we would call news
Technological Determinism
  • Belief that technology (e.g., invention of
    moveable type) basically drives historical
    change. Others counter that technology
    functions with various social, economic, and
    cultural forces to help bring about changes.

The Telegraph and Telephone
  • The Telegraph
  • Invention of telegraph speeds communication from
    30 mph limit to 186,000 miles per second
  • First to make instantaneous, point-to-point,
    long-distance communication possible
  • Morse Code uses system of dots and dashes

Telegraph the Cultural Impact
  • By 1850 most large U.S. cities linked together
  • 1866 Trans-Atlantic cable links U.S. to Europe
  • Standardizes, stabilizes, and links market
    prices, changing how we buy and sell goods
  • Becomes indispensable military tool
  • Allows up-to-date news from distant sources

The Telephone
  • Along with the telegraph, telephones change our
    perspective of time and space
  • First no-experience-required, user-friendly
    communication device
  • ATT dominates telephone industry just as Western
    Union dominates the telegraph

Photographyand Motion Pictures
  • Two inventions make photography possible
  • way to focus light rays onto a surface (1500s
    pinhole device, camera obscura, solves problem)
  • way to permanently store and copy the images
  • Glass plates (Daguerreotypes) first solution
  • Wm. Talbot, England, invents film paper
  • George Eastman introduces Brownie, 1890s

  • Mathew Brady chronicles U.S. Civil War, the
    first photographically recorded war
  • Photography frees art from depicting real
  • Demand for photographic coverage of events
    creates market for picture periodicals such as
    Life and Look magazines news definition now
    modified to news is that which can be shown

Pictures in Motion
  • Three great social movements fuel demand for
    motion pictures
  • industrialization
  • urbanization
  • immigration
  • Nickelodeons, 10,000 store-front theaters by
    1910s, also help create film industry

Motion Pictures and American Culture
  • Motion pictures center around large cash-rich
    firms and quickly dominate the three-prongs of
    the film industry
  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Exhibition
  • Film kills Vaudeville (which frees talent for
    radio later)

Motion Pictures and American Culture
  • Film becomes new popular leisure time activity
  • Film images and stars become national icons
  • Films portray model American values and culture
  • 1930 Payne Fund examines film medium, first
    serious effort to study potential media effects
  • 1930s newsreels are forerunner to TV news

Radio and Television
  • Radio (or wireless) debuts around 1910 as a
    byproduct of research in physics
  • WWI military leaders encourage radio RD in so
    doing, they end bottleneck patent war problems
  • The term broadcasting is coined to describe
    Radios one to many format
  • First medium to bring mass entertainment into the
    American living room

Radios evolution
  • The manufacturing of radio sets was originally
    seen as the best way to make a profit in the new
  • In the 1920s, ATT introduces idea of selling
    audiences to companies leased air time becomes
  • In 1927 the Federal Radio Commission is created
    to regulate radios tech side frequency and
    signal strength
  • By late 1920s three networks emerge CBS and NBC
    (the latter with two, NBC red and NBC Blue)

Radios evolution
  • In 1934 the Federal Communication Commission
    replaces FRC oversees entire electromagnetic
  • Radio content targeted for national mass appeal
  • The radio is a household staple during Great
  • Exodus of vaudeville actors gives radio new stars
  • By WWII, radio journalism emerges as a strong,
    new national and local source of news

Radios Cultural Impact
  • Serves to popularize music and performers
  • Introduces new entertainment genre the soap
    opera boasts 60 of daytime programs by 1940
  • First to aim mass content at children
  • Invents new comedy genre the sitcom
  • Becomes main source of at-home entertainment
    concept of evening prime time hours begins

  • Developed decades earlier, but hampered by the
    Great Depression, WWII, and regulatory problems,
    TV finally emerges in early 1950s
  • TV is now in 99 of all U.S. homes, and is on
    over seven hours per day. Its our third largest
    time consumer following sleep and work
  • Fosters everything/everywhere expectation
  • Helps create a new global village mentality

The Digital Revolution
  • Described as an information delivery shift from
    the slow moving material world made of atoms to
    the instantaneous and virtual world made up of
    0s and 1s, or bits
  • Digital technology and the Internet are creating
    a revolution in the way information is
    transmitted, accessed, shared, and stored

Problems of the Digital Age
  • Idea of community is changing, with bonds based
    on needs or interests rather than locality
  • Fostering new era of physical and social
  • How we govern, vote, get politically involved and
    influence our leaders is changing rapidly
  • Societys new Digital Divide -- a widening gap
    between those who have the training and wealth to
    use computers and those who dont

Concluding Observations
Its difficult to accurately predict the
ultimate use of any new mass medium . However,
it appears that the emergence of any new
communication advance changes, but does not make
extinct those advances that came before it.
End of Chapter 3Historical and Cultural