Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Evolution of Mass Communication ( Short notes) Part I

These small notes just for revision and helpful before UGC NET paper but for proper understanding you should read them in detail.

George Guess/Sequoyah

· Father, white/mother, Cherokee; handicapped, never learned to read or write English; Cherokee felt they were meant to hunt, not read

· Devised a system of 86 characters, each representing a sound in the Cherokee language; Guess taught his daughter to read; system adopted by the Cherokee nation in 1825; nation awarded Guess a silver medal for his contributions

· Only single person in history to create/perfect a system for reading & writing a language; English botanist named giant California tree Sequoyah, Guess’s Cherokee name, for his giant contributions


· National Storytelling Association defines storytelling as: “the art of using language, vocalization and gesture to reveal the elements and images of a story to an audience”

· Story defined as “narrative account of real or imagined events”; stories pass on wisdom, beliefs, values; explain who/what we are; explain how things are, why; the building blocks of knowledge; the foundation of memory, learning; connect, link us to the past, present & future

· Telling defined as “live, person to person, oral/physical presentation of a story to an audience”; involves direct contact between teller/listener; teller must use vivid language to bring the story to life, listener must bring experiences to help bring to life.

· Storytelling Elements: interactive, co-creative, personal, interpretive, human; a process/medium for sharing & interpreting meaning to an audience


· Culture defined as “the behaviors/beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic or age group”; the learned behaviors of whatever group to which you belong

· Another definition of culture: “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group over a period of time and passed on from one generation to another”

Media & Storytelling, Culture

· Mass media have become our culture’s storytellers; whether it is advertising, television, newspapers, whatever media, they all tell stories that we like; those who can tell stories well will be sought

· Media stories: some positive, some negative; stereotypes build over time (many based on truthful info for some, extended to all of a given culture); once again, some stereotypical images dominate

Early Cultures & Storytelling

· Oral cultures: passed on info from one generation to the next without benefit of writing
· Cultures extremely close, elders considered most wise
· 1st important communicators
· Myth & history intertwined

Early Writing Cultures

· Sumerians: cuneiform, a picture language using a stylus tool

· Egyptians: created hieroglyphs w/2000 symbols; used papyrus (writing surface derived from plants along the Nile) and parchment (writing surface from the skins of goat & sheep); Rosetta Stone helped decipher hieroglyphs

· Phoenicians: developed 1st syllable alphabet

· Greeks: credited with perfecting the alphabet

Printing Press

· Before the press, took 5 years for monks to hand write a Bible

· Other presses for art & wine existed; Gutenberg gave 1st printing press w/interchangeable letters

· Five years after the printing press, 12 million books published in Europe

Communication Defined

Process in which we assign/convey meaning in an attempt to create shared understanding; requires interpersonal & intrapersonal skills such as processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing & evaluating.

Different Communication Types

· Intrapersonal—communication one has with oneself; can be speaking aloud, eye contact, winking, daydreaming; referred to as “silent language”

· Interpersonal—includes all aspects of personal interaction or contact, usually with 2 people, but can be others (not a large group); interacting with another, exchanging info & views; a thoughtful exchange, debate

· Mass Communication—when messages are sent through technology, thereby making it possible for large numbers to access the message; principles of this type the same as others, but this one much more difficult than the other types because of the large numbers in the audience

Problems with Communication

· A message can challenge a person’s experiences; may cause rejection, distortion or misinterpretation

· Noise: anything that interferes with the transmission of a message may occur (smudged print, reception problems, lawn mowers)

· Feedback: crucial because message may be misinterpreted, unclear, delayed, etc. Information Revolutions’ Background

· Writing brought an end to the importance of oral storytelling

· Author Irving Fang suggests there are 6 info revolutions; in each of the 6, storytelling changed drastically

First Revolution: Writing Revolution

· Began primarily in Greece, around 8th century B.C.
· Began w/convergence of the Phoenician alphabet to the East, the Egyptian papyrus to the South

Ramifications of 1st Revolution

· Memory no longer crucial
· Knowledge now boundless
· Elders no longer revered
· Cultures divided

Second Revolution: Printing Revolution

· Began in Europe, second half of the 15th century when paper (originally from China) and a printing system established by Gutenberg
· Marked the beginning of the modern world

Ramifications of 2nd Revolution

· Info spread through many layers of society; royalty/church no longer all powerful
· Printing lends itself to massive political, religious, economic, educational & personal changes (Martin Luther)
· Period called the “Reformation” or “Renaissance”
· Marked the end of feudalism

Third Revolution: Mass Media Revolution

· Began in Western & Eastern United States during the middle of the 19th century
· Began w/the convergence of advances in paper production & printing press methods & the invention of the telegraph
· Changed the way info was conveyed

Ramifications of 3rd Revolution

· For the 1st time, newspapers & magazines reached out to the common man with news, events near & far & packaged goods for sale
· Photography became popular
· Public schools & libraries began to spread
· Literacy possible for the masses.

Fourth Revolution: Entertainment Revolution

· Began in Europe and America toward the end of the 19th century
· Stories printed, sold cheaply, just like cars on an assembly line; entertainment can now be infinitely duplicated/canned

Ramifications of 4th Revolution

· Entertainment will change American audiences forever
· Eventually, audiences will spend more time being entertained than many spend working

Fifth Revolution: Communication Toolshed Revolution

· Evolved during the middle of the 20th century, transforming the home into the central location for receiving info & entertainment
· Includes telephone, broadcasting, recording, improvement in print technologies, cheap universal mail services

Ramifications of 5th Revolution

· Radio keeps families entertained (foreshadows fascination w/television)
· Birth of TV changes all other media; radio loses programs & becomes a jukebox; general magazines lose prominence
· Home entertaining will never be the same

Sixth Revolution: Information Highway Revolution

· Began with the Internet explosion in the 1990s
· Describes today’s convergence of electronic technologies

Ramifications of 6th Revolution

· Has created an uncertain situation for future of all media
· New media now extremely popular; young people spend the most time utilizing new

Overview of Media Changes

· 4000 B.C.E.: Written language began
· 1455: Gutenberg’s Bible is published
· 1960: U.S. transitions to information society
· 1975: 1st personal computer introduced; SATCOM 1 was 1st satellite approved; it is
sustained about 22,300 miles above the Equator.
· 1982: CD, 1st digital music recording medium, introduced
· 1991: World Wide Web begins
· 1995: First digital hit movie (Toy Story)
· 1996: Telecommunications Act of 1996 changes U.S. media policy (particularly ownership)
· 1998: First U.S. HDTV broadcasts; new Copyright Act
· 2007: Internet reaches 75% of American homes
· 2009: U.S. transition to digital television

Broadcast Media in 5th/6th Centuries

· Radio dominated until 1948; audiences abandoned TV in early 1950s

· In the 1950s, more TVs sold than children born (in spite of the “Baby Boom Generation”: 1946-1964)

· In 1963, TV becomes the preferred medium for Americans to get their news

· For years, network TV dominated; news figured dominated, trusted as credible

· Mass efficiency; could reach 97% audience w/3 ads in primetime; ads were succinct, not tailored to niche audiences, but large sections of the population

Pivotal Moments in Television

· 1963: TV reaches maturity
· 1975: HBO goes on satellite
· 1976: 1st basic cable service & WTBS debut
· 1987: Fox TV network debut
· 1996: Telecommunication Act triggers mergers
· 1998: Broadcast news loses dominance

Media Problems/Issues at Hand

· Audience fragmentation (now really difficult to reach)

· Convergence (erosion of traditional distinctions among media; content now available everywhere)

· Conglomeration prevalent (media bought by non-media companies)

· New media, convergence, media ownership all impactful, all hitting at the same time

Technological Innovations

· Digital communication helped in the development of the 1st computers in the 1940s (can duplicate, store & play back complicated media content).

· Microprocessors, miniature circuits, led to the first personal computers: smaller, cheaper, and increasingly more powerful (computer chip power doubles about every 18 months)

· Fiber optic cable appeared in the mid-1980s, featuring thin bundles of fiber, incorporating glass & pulse of light that can be transported through lasers and can carry broadcast channels, telephone signals, & all sorts of digital codes.

· Various innovations from 1969 to the 1990s led to the Internet & the WWW.

Aftermath of Media Changes

· Democratization of media; because audiences are everywhere, reach is now diminished

· Other new problems: “newstainment,” credibility questioned, reality programming, product placement & beyond

· No boundaries, no news cycles

· Content delivery now proliferated


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