Mass Communication

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Field of study

In the United States, many university journalism departments evolved into schools or colleges of mass communication or "journalism and mass communication," as reflected in the names of two major academic organizations. In addition to studying practical skills of journalism, public relations or advertising, students also may major in "mass communication" or "mass communication research." The latter is often the title given to doctoral studies in such schools, whether the focus of the student's research is journalism practice, history, law or media effects. Departmental structures within such colleges may separate research and instruction in professional or technical aspects of . Mass communication research includes media institutions and processes, such as diffusion of information, and media effects, such as persuasion or manipulation of public opinion. With the Internet's increased role in delivering news and information, mass communication studies -- and media organizations -- have increasingly focused on the convergence of publishing, broadcasting and digital communication. The academic mass communication discipline historically differs from media studies and communication studies programs with roots in departments of theatre, film or speech, and with more interest in "qualitative," interpretive theory, critical or cultural approaches to communication study. In contrast, many mass communication programs historically lean toward empirical analysis and quantitative research -- from statistical content analysis of media messages to survey research, public opinion polling, and experimental research. Interest in "New Media" and "Computer Mediated Communication" is growing much faster than educational institutions can assimilate it. So far, traditional classes and degree programs have not been able to accommodate new paradigm shifts in communication technologies. Although national standards for the study of interactive media have been in place in the U.K. since the mid-nineties, course work in these areas tends to vary significantly from university to university.

Graduates of Mass Communication programs work in a variety of fields in traditional news media and publishing, advertising, public relations and research institutes. Such programs are accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Comunication. The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Comunication is the major membership organization for academics in the field, offering regional and national conferences and refereed publications. The International Communication association and National Communication Association (formerly the Speech Communication Association) include divisions and publications that overlap with those of AEJMC, but AEJMC historically has stronger ties to the mass communication professions in the United States.

The terms 'Mass' and 'Communication'

The term 'mass' denotes great volume, range or extent (of people or production) and reception of messages. The important point about 'mass' is not that a given number of individuals receives the products, but rather that the products are available in principle to a plurality of recipients. The term 'mass' suggests that the recipients of media products constitute a vast sea of passive, undifferentiated individuals. This is an image associated with some earlier critiques of 'mass culture' and Mass society which generally assumed that the development of mass communication has had a largely negative impact on modern social life, creating a kind of bland and homogeneous culture which entertains individuals without challenging them. However, with the advancement in Media Technology, people are no longer receiving gratification without questioning the grounds on which it is based. Instead, people are engaging themselves more with media products such as computers, cell phones and Internet. These have gradually became vital...
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