Communication Models

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The purpose of this essay is to discuss Denis McQuail’s four concepts of communication in contemporary Western culture. It will be discussed in this essay how each media form exhibits a communication model and to what extent that it does so. It will also be discussed whether each of these models are independent or correlated. For each communication model, a different media form will be used to explain how it is being manifested. Television broadcasting will be used to explain the transmission model, magazine advertisements will be used to explain the publicity model, websites will be used to shed light on the ritual model and lastly, newspapers will be used to prove the existence of the reception model.

The four communication models of McQuail’s are representations of the process of public communication. The most basic form is the transmission model, which is theorised by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver. The transmission model ‘transmits a fixed “quantity” of information – the message as determined by the sender or the source’ (McQuail 1994, pp. 49-50) with considerations of how accurate is the information sent during the communicating process.

The information source produces the message before it goes through the transmitter that encodes the message into signals. Upon entering the channel where signals are adapted for transmission, “noise” may be an input that distorts the message. It is then sent to the receiver where the message is decoded from signals before arriving at the intended destination. For example, television programs are transmitted through the antenna of the broadcasting station to the satellite air chain where we receive it through the cable or antenna of our television sets. The “noise” in this example may refer to the bad weather or static causing poor signals sent to our screens.

On Mediacorp’s News 5 Tonight, the transmission model manifests it by feeding its’ audience with daily events and updates. The audience decodes the message and absorbs information that is said by the news anchor. They do not question the credibility of the source of information. Thus, showing the audience as passive according to McQuail’s theory. With improved technology, people have become increasingly competitive and the aim for perfection has reduced the “noise” produced in this model. Thus, enabling the transmission model to manifest to a larger extent.

The second communication model is the ritual model. This mode of communication uses the expression of art to convey a message. However, the message may or may not have any purposeful meaning. According to James Carey (1992, p. 18), this mode of communication is:

linked to such terms as “sharing,” “participation,” “association,” “fellowship,” and “the possession of a common faith”… A ritual view of communication is directed not only to the extension of messages in space but toward the maintenance of society in time; not the act of imparting information but the representation of shared belief.

Taking the online social artist network, Deviant Art, for example, different types of people from all over the world that are interested in arts participate with the purpose of sharing and displaying their works. There are various categories ranging from digital art to photography and cartoons. These people are brought together with a common general interest where each individual has more specific interests, therefore, forming a community. Other examples include You Tube and Facebook.

Semiotics are heavily emphasised on in cultures and is often seen in this context. For example, Google’s webpage always varies according to a specific event or day on that particular day. During festive seasons, national days and other global events, Google modifies its’ logo slightly by adding elements of that event. (Refer to appendix 1 for examples) Therefore, the logo, as a symbol, communicates itself to its’ audience by notifying or reminding them of the current event. Taking...
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