Whatdid you learn as the result of taking this course regardingelectronic media and why is this significant to you?
Thanksto this course on electronica media, I have a better understandingabout how mass communication works. It could be something oldfashioned as radio, some not so modern as television and of coursethe newer, web based communication media that is currently the mostdominant medium of communication.
Ofall the things I learnt in this course, the one thing that hit me themost is the way corporations are utilizing the media in order to makemoney. In other words, the entire media seems to be commercialized tothe point where almost everything that we are exposed to has beendesigned by the money hungry corporations.
Iwould like to illustrate this point with some everyday examples. Takefor instance, the daily newspaper, the one that is printed in paper,and is a mix of information and also advertising. Thanks to thiscourse, I know that newspapers and in general, every media formatmakes money through advertising. This is fair enough for a newspaperthat costs five dollars, as it would probably cost upwards of twentyfive dollars if not for the advertising. Looking at it from thatperspective, I am able to enjoy my daily news at a lower rate becauseof these advertisements.
However,what I notice is that, the advertisements almost act like propaganda.Propaganda is a communication method where information is deliveredin such a way, even if it is untrue an individual ends up believingin it. Take for instance diet foods sold by large corporations.Commercials that are placed in the newspapers have an impact on me,as they convince me that these foods are the best form of losingweight. These commercials contain captivating wording, hiding themore dangerous parts, and highlighting the good parts.
Thesame newspaper is probably being read by thousands of people in thewhole country. Imagine the kind of effect it is going to have onthese individuals. These advertisements extend beyond just thenewspaper. They are in televisions, the web, our social networks,bill boards and sign boards. All of them are part of masscommunication that reaches out to millions of people every day. Nowthat I think about it, this is exactly like propaganda.
Inthe olden days, propaganda was used to divert attention away from badeffects of war. People were told all sorts of lies that includedpandering to their patriotism. Today, it is the same thing with masscommunication. Companies realize that if they can get a hold of masscommunication they can divert our attention towards their product.
Thisalso has a negative effect on other products too. Mass communicationand hence propaganda costs a lot of money. As of now, only the bigcompanies have such money. This means, if another company which has abetter product wants to reach out to customers, they simply cannot doit. In other words, the rich companies continue to get richer, whilethe smaller companies do not stand a chance.
Asa communication student, I feel that the original spirt of mass mediahas been completely eliminated from the current mass media. There isalso this strong feeling that the journalism has also taken a hit.There are plenty of magazines out there that do not even bother withfollowing the ethics of journalism, and instead they are content withensuring sensationalism. The problem could also be the people. Theyalso seem to have grown to the like the sensationalism part of thenews, and not really care if someone is reporting something thatreally does not make sense.
Then,there is the internet which has already killed most of printpublications. Except for the marquee names of the print newspaperworld, almost everybody else is either going online only, or on theverge of shutting down their offices. I feel that, this will furtherreduce the quality of journalism overall.
Anothertopic that really fascinated me, and I learnt a lot about wascommunication. I realize now that there is a huge difference betweencommunication and mass communication. Communication is the ability tointeract with another individual. It is usually a privateconversation. For instance, if I were to call up a friend of mine,that would be communication, since there is just one person involved.Mass communication is when the same piece of information is reachingout to multiple users, usually hundreds.
Thenature of mass communication is such that it is ideal to reach out tomany people at the same time. This makes it a good accessory todissipate information faster and to a larger audience. For instance,in case of a disaster, it is possible to warn a lot of people thatsomething went wrong and they should take shelter. That is the goodpart. The bad part is the above mentioned propaganda typecommunication activities that companies are involved in using thesame mass communication techniques.
Communication,which is personal communication, cannot be used for propaganda. Thatalso means it cannot be used to alter the behavior of its recipients.I could, for instance, call up hundreds of my friends and relativesand tell them about something that is not true but I claim it to betrue. Despite my best efforts, a very small fraction of those who Ispoke with will be influenced by what I said.
Contrastthis with mass communication. A single speech by a Senator or aCongressman could be watched and heard by thousands of people. Thecontents of the speech will have a huge impact on those who arelistening. When many more people are involved, they can also gettogether and discuss, as this encourages communication. Eventually,without even them being aware, they will begin to experience changesin behavior and attitude about particular topics. People will alsohave a different opinion due to what they saw.
Inconclusion the course on communication has helped me understand howelectronic media works. If not for electronic media, it is quitepossible that mass media may not be as effective a propaganda tool itis today. I also found out that companies, in the business of makingmoney, have taken an important communication technique and are usingit to influence behaviors of entire populations.
Thesad part is that, another realization form this course, people willnot realize that they are being influenced by these companies. Theydo not realize that they are buying something or watching somethingbecause they want to. They are simply doing it because they were toldor influenced to do so.