SP108 – The Functions of Mass Communication*
*Adapted from Functions of Mass Communication
, Instructional Video, Maumee, Ohio.
What is mass communication?
It includes books, radio, magazines, newspapers, TV,
movies, the net, cd’s, tapes, exhibitions and exhibits, conferences,…in short, anything
designed for a mass audience. As a small experiment, add up what you have spent on
mass communication in the last month. How much of a role does mass communication
play in our lives?
What are its functions?
. This is the ‘watchdog’ function of the media. Think Watergate,
Monica Lewinsky, Sixty Minutes, the 2000 election coverage, video of
in Egypt, Facebook and revolution.
Can you think of another example?
This is the ‘framing’ function of the media; that is, the
interpretation of information
. The media decide which stories are noteworthy and
how they fit together. What do they mean? How do they relate to the larger context?
One example: With the election situation in 2000, the media gave us interpretations
of each development, as well as the history of similar situations and how this
particular election was similar or different. Recent coverage of the economic crisis