Welcome to Mediums and Messages

Mediums and Messages is a resource site for the study of communication and media studies curated and maintained by the students of Washington College.

The Communication and Media Studies program at Washington College prepares students to become discerning media consumers, critical thinkers, skilled writers, and creative storytellers. This site is maintained by Washington College students to provide critical resources to their peers in order to advance the study of communications and media studies.

To the right there is a list of topics, ideas, and concepts germane to the study of communication and media. Each entry is researched, created, and written by students. Click on the link for the concept you’d like to learn more about.

For more information about the Washington College Communication and Media Studies Program, click here.

Except where otherwise noted, images, sound, and video on this site is licenses under Creative Commons. For more information on Creative Commons, click here

1948 Paramount Decision

The 1948 Paramount Decision is a landmark Supreme Court ruling that came out of the 1948 court case, United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. The case was argued on February 9-11, 1948 and was decided on May 3, 1948. In a 7-1 decision, the Court sided with the United States government stating that the practice of vertical integration by film studios in Hollywood is a monopolistic process, making it therefore unconstitutional and illegal.

In front of the SCOTUS, Attorney General Clark and Assistant Attorney General Sonnett argued for the United States (SCOTUS, 1948). John W. Davis argued for the defendant, Loew’s Incorporation (SCOTUS, 1948). William J. Donovan argued for the case of Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp. (SCOTUS, 1948). Joseph M. Proskauer argued on behalf of Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. (SCOTUS, 1948). James F. Byrnes argued the case of Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. (SCOTUS, 1948). Whitney North Seymour argued the cause for Paramount Pictures, Inc. (SCOTUS, 1948). Louis D. Frohlich argued for Columbia Pictures Corp. (SCOTUS, 1948). George A. Raftery argued for the United States Artists Corp. (SCOTUS, 1948). Thomas Turner Cooke argued for Universal Pictures Co. (SCOTUS, 1948). Thurman Arnold argued for Universal Pictures Co. (SCOTUS, 1948). Finally, John G. Jackson and Robert Barton, Jr. argued for Allred.

Before reaching the Supreme Court, the complaint had charged the defendants with monopolizing the production of films. When the District Court denied the government’s plea, the government then charged the studios for monopolizing on distribution. Once again, the District Court did not believe there was a case here. Finally, the complaint charged the defendants with vertical integration of producing, distributing, and exhibiting major motion pictures. The case eventually moved up to the Supreme Court of the United States.


Justice William O. Douglas wrote the majority opinion of the 1948 Supreme Court case United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc

The majority opinion was given by Justice William O. Douglas (SCOTUS, 1948). The Court charged the defendants with violations against the Sherman Act, which is an antitrust law passed in 1890 (SCOTUS, 1948). The defendants were divided into three groups. This first group was made up of Paramount Pictures, Inc., Loew’s, Incorporated, Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corporation, Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., and Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. This group was known as the five major defendants because they produced, distributed, and owned/controlled theaters (SCOTUS, 1948). The second group was made up of Columbia Pictures and Universal Corporation. These two companies only produced movies and distributed films (SCOTUS, 1948). Finally, the third party was United Artists Corporations who only distributed films (SCOTUS, 1948).

While writing the majority opinion, Justice Douglas considered five different practices that were addressed in the arguments: clearance and runs, pooling agreements, formula deals/master arguments/franchises, block booking, and discrimination (SCOTUS, 1948). Within these five parts of the majority opinion, Justice Douglas revisited past cases and rulings to determine how each defendant had violated one of these categories. After reviewing these facts and going over what the District Court had to say, Justice Douglas decided to let the District Court’s decision stand for a restraint of trade (SCOTUS, 1948). He believed that what the companies were doing was monopolizing and against the law. On formula deals, master arguments, and franchises, Justice Douglas let the District Courts decided a resolution (SCOTUS, 1948). For block booking, Justice Douglas said that this went against copy right law (SCOTUS, 1948). Overall, the majority decision decided that vertical integration was illegal and Hollywood had to change its process by which it did production, exhibition, and distribution.

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Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote the dissenting opinion of the 1948 Paramount Pictures Decision

The dissenting opinion of the SCOTUS was written by Justice Felix Frankfurter. Justice Frankfurter argued that the Court could not rule on the case as they had not examined all the facts provided to them to make an appropriate decision (SCOTUS, 1948). Based on prior court decisions, Justice Frankfurter thought this case should not have been decided by the SCOTUS but by the District Courts. Justice Frankfurter believed that the appropriate venue for this case was the District Court (SCOTUS, 1948).

After the decision was decided, movie studios had to sell their movie theaters, making rent charges increase (SCOTUS, 1948). Paramount Pictures, Inc. was divided into two different companies (SCOTUS, 1948). The movie studio, RKO, was closed (Campbell & Fabos, 2017). Independent producers and studios were able to make more movies (Campbell & Fabos, 2017). This decision effectively brought an end to the “Golden Age of Hollywood” (Campbell & Fabos, 2017).


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Movies and the Impact of Images. In Media & Culture: Mass Communications in a Digital Age (Eleventh ed., pp. 215-244). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. 334 U.S. 131 (1948).

Image Attribution: Images used are from the Harris & Ewing collection at the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division and are in the Public Domain.

Written by Jillian Horaneck, 2017



Ad Agency Structure

Ad Agency Structure is about the structures of business and the development of ads within an advertising agency. Many ad agencies divide the labor of creating an advertisement into four main parts: account planning, creative development, media coordination, and account management (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 360). There are also two main types of advertising agencies, such as mega-agencies and boutique agencies. Another main part of an advertisement agency is the space broker, “who purchases space in newspapers and sells it to merchants” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 354).

The account planner has the task of creating an effective advertising strategy. The strategy usually consists of the combined views of the client, the creative team, and the consumers (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 360). Another responsibility of the account planner is to coordinate market research which helps the company analyze and understand the behaviors and attitudes of the consumers towards the product they are trying to sell. The account planner also uses the Values and Lifestyles (VALS) strategy “which measures the psychological factors and divides consumers into types” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 360). VALS researchers advise advertisers to vary their sales.

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The creative development team uses a storyboard, which is a blueprint for the potential ad

The creative development team outlines the rough sketches for print and online advertisements and then works on the logos, words, slogans, designs, and graphics for the ad (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 361). The creative development team usually consists of writers and artists. For different forms of media, there are different needs of preparation: radio prepares a working script while for television, the team uses a storyboard. For digital media, the team develops websites or interactive tools. “The business structure for digital media is heavily influenced by the technological structure of the media” (Mijung, Jun, & Chan-Olmsted, 2010, p. 11). The creative side of the team struggles with the research side of the team, since the creative part might not agree with what research says.

Advertising agencies also focus on media coordination which is about the planning and placing of advertisements. Media departments are staffed by media planners and media buyers. Media buyers are people who choose and purchase the types of media that are best suited to carry a client’s ads, reach the targeted audience, and measure the effectiveness of those ad placements” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 361). Advertisers also attach incentives to their contracts with certain agencies that allows them to raise the fee if sales are met and lower the fee if the sale goal is missed (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 361). The media coordination team chooses the target audience for the advertisement. Account management ties into the media coordination in the sense that they are responsible for the interaction between client and the agency. They are responsible for making sure that the agency meets the requirements of the client and follows the functions of the advertising agency.

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Omnicon is one of the four global mega-agencies in the world

There are two types of advertising agencies that operate in the United States: mega-agencies and boutique agencies. Mega-agencies are large ad firms that formed by having several agencies merge together and maintain regional offices worldwide, while boutique agencies are small agencies that focus their talents and effort on only a certain number of clients (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 358). Mega-agencies provide a full range of services all over the world, such as advertising and public relations to having their own house radios and television production studios. In 2015, “Omnicom had more than 74,000 employees operating in more than 100 countries around the world” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 358). Mega-agencies attend to multiple types of businesses around the world. Mega-agencies are considered a threat to smaller boutique agencies which have been decreasing over the years. Boutique agencies consists of creative individuals who broke away from the bigger agencies. Boutique agencies offer more personal service since they are smaller and have less clients. The boutique agencies have prospered by innovative campaigns and increasing profits from television accounts (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017, p. 359). Boutique agencies operate as subsidiaries within multinational corporate structures.


Campbell, R. Martin, C.R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communications in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Mijung, Kim, M., Jun, H., & Chan-Olmsted, S. M. (2010). PERCEIVED EFFECTIVENESS AND BUSINESS STRUCTURE AMONG ADVERTISING AGENCIES: A CASE STUDY OF MOBILE ADVERTISING IN SOUTH KOREA. (cover story.) Journal of Media Business Studies, 7(2), 1-20.

Image Attribution: Image 1 CC BY-SA 2.0; Image 2 Public Domain

Written by Michael Smith, 2018

Agenda Setting

Agenda Setting Theory is a media effects theory that explains how media affects the emphasis viewers place on certain topics happening in society. The ‘catch-phrase’ associated with this theory is that the media does not tell us what to think, it tells us what to think about. Bernard Cohen actually stated this is 1963 referring to the press – “The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.” This comes from the ideology that the media can place topics in front of us, like in the news or on social media, which will show us that these topics are important, but media cannot tell us how to feel about these topics or what opinions to form regarding these topics. In a study done by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in 1972, they studied this. They focused on the 1968 presidential campaign and what viewers were concerned about in comparison to what the mass media was focusing on. After randomly selecting registered voters in the Chapel Hill region in North Carolina, they asked respondents questions about key issues and their importance (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). They found an almost perfect correlation between what their respondents said were important issues and what the media was reporting on, which proved that media priorities become public priorities. This is incredibly important because mass media may be the only connection that voters have to politics and it is important to have educated voters and citizens. If the media can report on the most important aspects of politics, at least people are getting exposure to these topics. Studies relating to this theory are even now expanding into disciplines like history, advertising, and medical studies, showing its relevance to other aspects of life, not just news and politics.

The ideas of framing and priming play a role in this ideology. The media can prime our thoughts of an issue through constant repetition and prominence given to a specific topic. This keeps these ideas and issues in the minds of consumers, making them easily remembered. Framing, is how sources of media organize, define, and structure a story (Weiss, 2009). Media use these techniques to help consumers decide what to think about. News for example, viewers see the same headlines and topics on multiple platforms – tv, news apps, social media, papers, etc. But different sources can frame stories to show consumers what they want them to know. Consumers then have the discretion to accept or challenge those opinions placed in front of them and create their own meanings of the world.


There are some limitations with this theory though. One big one is if media sets the public agenda, where does the media agenda come from? But, the media agenda in theory is influenced by the public agenda through ratings, surveys, market research, etc. (Weiss, 2009). Another limitation is that viewers who do not find the media/news credible are less likely to have their agendas set by the media (Weiss, 2009). This also applies to viewers who disagree with the media agenda. So, there is room for further exploration on this theory, but many people find it to be credible and meaningful.

So, despite its few limitations, Agenda Setting Theory is a very important theory in regard to media effects. A huge contribution to the study of this theory is credited to Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw as well as Bernard Cohen. Moving forward, try to consider how media sets your personal agenda and how it affects what you think is important in the world today.


Works Cited

Karell, Daniel. “The Agenda-Setting Theory in Mass Communication | Alvernia Online.” Alvernia University Online, 20 Feb. 2018, online.alvernia.edu/agenda-setting-theory/.

Mass media | agenda setting theory. (n.d.). Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/communication-theories/sorted-by-cluster/Mass-Media/Agenda-Setting_Theory/

Maxwell E. McCombs, & Donald L. Shaw. (1972). The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass

Media. The Public Opinion Quarterly, (2), 176.

Weiss, D. (2009). Agenda-setting theory. In S. Littlejohn & K. Foss, Encyclopedia of Communication Theory. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks California  91320  United States: SAGE Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412959384.n12



Written by Caitlyn Creasy, 2018.

Anthology Dramas

Anthology Drama is a term that is often associated with modern television programming that is running over multiple seasons (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017). While the overall genera of these programs may differ from show to show, the overall principle that ties these dramas together is the sense of drama and tension, and multiple season run time that allows for multiple viewership’s and long-standing fans of these programs (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017). Anthology dramas are programs that run for multiple seasons or episodes, but in each rendition of the show, whether that is episode to episode or season to season, the setting, plot, and characters are changed.

This formula for dramas began in the late 1920s with programing such as The Collier Hour on NBC, which paved the way for other such programs that provided new content and characters on an episode to episode basis (Evans, 2011). While these types of shows maintained strong popularity during much of the mid 1900s, but began to fall out of favor towards the 1990s as more well produced and complex narratives that appealed to audiences (Evans, 2011). However, around 2010 programs such as American Horror Story and other such programs began to resurface, modernizing the anthology genera, giving the season to season anthology formula, while captivating audiences with well written and developed characters by having recurring elements in their seasons (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017).


The article, “Distinguishing Television: The Changing Meanings of Television Liveness” by Levine focuses on the changing landscape of television and how over time and through technological advancements that the forms and mediums of television are shaped. Specifically, in this article there is a discussion on the patterns of how and why anthology dramas appear and reappear in the television world over time (Levine, 2008). Its reading is that due to the episodic nature of anthologies, more often than not it is much harder to retain its audience. More character or plot focused programming often can hold on to audiences as the show has a common thread holding it together, whereas in anthology dramas there is more of a spontaneity that causes this aspect to be lost in early anthologies (Levine, 2008).

An important source that can be used to understand this topic is the book by Evans, Transmedia Television. In it there is a discussion on what it means to study and define media and has many different presentations on the multiple different mediums that make up the branching idea of media (Evans, 2011). Specifically, there is a section in this book concerned with what they call quality drama or in our case well produced or high budget anthology dramas. Quality dramas are what this texts calls both the early 2000s programming that brought about the demise of early anthology series, and what many modern anthology programs have adopted to maintain viewership (Evans, 2011).


There are ample examples of both past and modern ideas of anthology dramas and how they have changed over time, but what the overall basic of this medium is based on the idea of an episode to episode generation of plot and characters. Examples such as American Horror Story and The Twilight Zone are prime in helping aid in an understanding of what anthology dramas are as these more modern programs clearly show aspects of early anthologies in their episode to episode or season to season changes, while drawing from the quality drama aspects of well-developed characters and more centralized plots.



Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a

Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Evans, E. (2011). Transmedia Television. New York: Routledge.


Levine, E. (2008). Distinguishing television: the changing meanings of television

liveness. Media, Culture & Society30(3), 393-409.


Image Attribution

The images used in this post are in the public domain (Creative Commons)



Written by Colin Levi, 2018

Association Principle

The association principle is a type of advertising technique that “associates a product with a positive cultural value or image” (Campbell, 2017). This persuasive technique is used even if the association has little to no connection to the actual product. The association principle attempts to convince consumers that there is an innate relationship between a brand or product and an attitude (Savan, 1995). This principle aims to make consumers connect the product being advertised to a desirable set of values or traits. Positive ideals such as wealth, love, security, uniqueness, and/or beauty may be associated with a product through commercials, advertisements, or other forms of visual aids.

Marketing a product in a way that connects it to something that the consumer can relate to, transforms the product image. Transforming the product’s image is the advertiser’s intention. When almost every product can be associated with a positive self-image, consumers are subtly persuaded into the advertiser’s concept of a “good citizen” (Savan, 1995). Advertisers are not necessarily selling their products, but instead selling the illusion that purchasing their products will make the consumer feel greater because of the association attached to the advertisement. The real “masterwork” of advertising is the way it uses the association principle technique to “seduce the human soul” (Savan, 1995).

Throughout history, American car advertisements have displayed automobiles in natural settings instead of urban or city-like settings (Campbell, 2017). This demonstrates the association principle where the car being advertised is shown in the natural world of rugged mountains or glistening fields with intention to advertise the car as an example of modern technology. Other examples of the association principle may include the display of American patriotism through visual symbols to associate products or businesses with national pride (Campbell, 2017). Advertising may also associate products with happy families, success, natural scenery, or freedom (Savan, 1995).

Chalisa 1The Marlboro brand has notably used the association principle to enhance the image of its brand. Transforming to a man’s cigarette in the 1960s, Marlboro often associated its product with strong, masculine images (Campbell, 2017). The product was usually dominated with images of nature, displaying a “lone cowboy roping calf, building a fence, or riding over a snow-covered landscape” (Campbell, 2017). Advertisements do more than just demand attention. Ads curate and push the social and cultural trends that infiltrate the consumer’s mind (Savan, 1995).

There have been many controversial uses of the association principle. One of the more popular ones has been the connection of products to stereotyped representations of women (Campbell, 2018). In many instances, women have Chalisa 2been portrayed as sex objects where the women in the ad are usually dressed in revealing clothing. Another controversial use of the association principle is to state that products are “real” and “natural”, especially when advertising cosmetic products (Campbell, 2017). Beauty products that are being advertised usually assures the target audience (women) that the product will make them look and feel more natural. Using these adjectives and associating them with the product, makes the product more appealing.


Campbell, R., Martin, C.R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s.

Savan, L. (1995). The Sponsored Life ads, TV, and American culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Image Attribution: Images used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Chalisa Singh, 2018.

Avatars (Video Games)

Video game avatars are created by users on various platforms to represent themselves when gaming, either serious or not serious. By definition, an avatar is a “personalized graphical illustration that represents a computer user, or a character or alter ego that represents that user. An avatar can be represented either in three-dimensional form (for example, in games or virtual worlds) or in two-dimensional form” (Janssen 2018). Most gaming systems, social platforms, blogs, forums, and many more outlets allow users to create avatars for their profiles to associate a face with a name.

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A video game avatar can come in many different forms, video game avatars are all around the top systems, whether it be creating a mii on the Nintendo Wii or having a figure to be associated with a gamertag on Xbox live. Users have the ability to make their avatars look like themselves or make them look absurd and give them features and clothing that make them look nothing like themselves. Some systems like the Nintendo Wii allow the user to play with their avatars in actual games, but most systems use avatars for show. A somewhat new trend that has emerged in video games is an in-game avatar feature (separate from the systems avatar). Games like Call of Duty and Fortnite allow you to display characters as an avatar, but they can also be used for display in pre-game lobbies. Many online computer games like Runescape and Counter Strike: Global Offensive use avatars too that are separate from in-game characters.

Video Game avatars are ultimately created to represent ourselves in an accurate way online. Robert Hotz of the Wall Street Journal suggests that video game avatars may portray characteristics that we would not normally reveal, saying that “Psychologists are discovering that the digital identities we create for play online, known as avatars, reveal more aspects of our personalities than we may intend to disclose and can change how we behave in the real world”  (Hotz 2015). The likely reason gamers reveal more online is due to the fact that playing video games is harmless by nature and most gamers do not know each other on a personal level so it is not normal for a face to be put with a name (and be judged).

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While it is not uncommon for video games to have their own avatars for each specific player, video game avatars are generally made for a specific username. Whether it be Xbox, playstation, Nintendo, online gaming, or numerous other platforms, these large systems ask for avatars to be paired with a gamer and username. Significant strides were made in gaming in 1974, where the video game Basketball would change gaming moving forward. According to the writers at ultimate history video games, Basketball was “the first example of a video game that displayed sprite images, both for the players and the baskets, first game to depict game character, first attempt at accurately simulating a team sport, first basketball game” (ultimatehistoryvideogames 2014). Basketball raised standards for video games and allowed the future of gaming to benefit from their genius through usage of sprites. By definition, a sprite “is a type of “stand-alone” computer graphic element that has evolved along with modern computer graphics technologies” (Janssen 2018). Video game avatars are essentially sprites that are larger, have better graphics, and have more features.

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Video game avatars have been able to be created and enhanced over the years due to the various software that goes in to creating a video game. These software advancements have caught the attention of many for the future, like Fox Harrell, where he says “New technologies for creating empowering identity representations” (Harrell 2010). The future of these software and identities joining could tell companies about users and use it for economical advantage and improvements. Video game avatars are usually created in the same routine way across all gaming platforms. For instance, after unboxing a system and putting personal information in, the Wii and Xbox systems allow the user to create an avatar after the individual creates a username. After the username is created, the user typically is asked to create the face, being that it is the key to an individuals identity, then hair color, then body type, and the accessories and clothing. While users are asked to start with the face, systems do allow users to start wherever they want and proceed as they wish being that some people do not take the process of creating an avatar seriously, this allows those who are serious and not serious about creating an avatar to navigate freely, like Ryan Khosravi when he talks about the choice of creating an avatar seriously, saying that “some people want to make a character that looks badass or interesting, and some people just want to make something that resembles them” (Khosravi 2017). After creating an avatar, gamers can start gaming and show off their character.


Harrell, F. (2010, April 24). Identity And Online Avatars: A Discussion. Retrieved from https://kotaku.com/5523384/identity-and-online-avatars-a-discussion

History, U. (n.d.). Basketball. Retrieved from https://ultimatehistoryvideogames.jimdo.com/basketball/

Hotz, R. L. (2015, January 20). Practice Personalities: What an Avatar Can Teach You. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/practice-personalities-what-an-avatar-can-teach-you-1421703480?ns=prod/accounts-wsj

Janssen, D. (n.d.). What is an Avatar? – Definition from Techopedia. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from https://www.techopedia.com/definition/4624/avatar

Janssen, D. (n.d.). What is a Sprite? – Definition from Techopedia. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from https://www.techopedia.com/definition/2046/sprite-computer-graphics

Khosravi, R. (n.d.). How Non-Binary Folks Navigate Creating Avatars In Video Games. Retrieved from https://intomore.com/culture/How-NonBinary-Folks-Navigate-Creating-Avatars-In-Video-Games/96ce009cb01140c3

Image Attribution: Image One: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) The image used in this post is in the Public Domain; Image Two: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) The image used in this post is in the Public Domain; Image three: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) The image used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Matthew Tancredi, 2018.

Banned Books Week

casey 1Each year during the last week of September, libraries and communities work to celebrate Banned Books Week. This week embraces books that have been banned or challenged over the years. “Banned” refers to the selection being taken off the shelf while “challenged” means that someone such as a parent or patron have requested to have the book removed (Petrilli, 2009). This is more common than banning books and happens across the United States. In 1982, Banned Books Week was celebrated for the first time. This was in response to a rise in challenged books across communities (Ballard, 2015). It took off and became an annual event each year.

Casey 2A list is created each year of the most challenged book. The top ten list from 2007’s included, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, TTYL by Lauren Myracle, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Petrilli, 2009). Many of these books are popular titles yet have all been deemed not worthy or inappropriate for public consumption by someone or a group in the community. The most popular reasons for challenges include being sexually explicit, containing offensive language, LGBT themes, religious viewpoint and violence (American Library Association, 2013). These are subject claims that people use to justify their value claims.

Casey 3During this week libraries across the United States work hard to celebrate these books. They are supported by the American Library Association and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Some ways they do this is by creating book displays with the challenged books showcased. There are promotions of it on social media platforms such as Facebook. Communities also hold discussions or readings of these challenged book (Ballard, 2015). Community members are encouraged to read these challenged books through these events to from their own opinion.

Banned Books Week is important because it helps prevent censorship of different points of view. Censorship is suppression of ideas and information because a group in power deems them objectionable (American Library Association, 2013). Parents often feel that that removing uncomfortable titles will protect their children (Petrilli, 2009). However, they are infringing on the intellectual freedom rights of others in the community. Intellectual freedom covers the right to seek and gain knowledge from any point of view without restrictions (American Library Association, 2013). Removal of books from community settings prevents the public’s right to gain knowledge without restrictions.


American Library Association. (2013, January 3). Free Downloads. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/freedownloads

Ballard, S. (2015). The Challenged the Banned & the Filtered. Knowledge Quest, 43(5), 32-37.

Petrilli, K. (2009). Banned Books Week: Celebrating Your (and Your Teens!) Freedom to Read. Young Adult Library Services, 7(4), 4-5

Images Attribution: Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Written by Casey Wolhar, 2017



Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test is an examination of a film, book, or any work of fiction in general based on three criteria. For a work of fiction to pass the Bechdel Test, the work must a) have at least two women b) who talk each other c) about something other than a man. If Mikethe work of fiction meets all three criteria, the Bechdel Test gives it an “A for Approved” rating. The Bechdel Test is often applied to film, but it can also be applied to literature, comics, TV shows and some podcasts. Even day-to-day interactions between everyday people can pass or fail the Bechdel Test (Selisker 2015).

Alison Bechdel, an American cartoonist, introduced the concept of the Bechdel Test in a 1985 strip of the comic Dykes to Watch Out For. In this comic, an unnamed character asks two women if a fictional piece can who two or more women who talk to each other about something other than a man (Lindvall 2013). When the Bechdel Test is applied to films, audiences can determine if the film has a gender bias that may or may not be intentional but certainly prevalent (Scheiner-Fisher, Russell 2012).

Gaul (2017) uses the Bechdel Test implicitly to analyze the relationships between female characters in the novel studied by herself and the class she instructed. Sincerity by Susanna Rowson, one of the books her class studied, became a popular novel among her students for the “female relationships, and, even more provocatively, how marriage affected female relationships” (Gaul, 2017: 146). Sincerity, Gaul says, exemplifies how the Bechdel Test can be seen in other media forms than just film, and she compares her class’ understanding of literature by American women to the Bechdel Test, saying it mirrors her students’ value of Sincerity and its take on the complex nature of female relationships.

Selisker (2015) describes the Bechdel Test in the form of character interactions in fictional narratives to find a method of linking these communications in one network. He breaks down his analysis into three different sections. In his first section, Social Network Analysis and Literary Works, he observes social interactions between fictional characters and how these interactions evolve into a connected network in that work of fiction. In his second section, Female Networks, or Between Women, he observes the roles of women in social interactions and how they act as intermediaries, if not instigators of conversation. In his third section, Critical Labor and Literary Data, he brings his article to a conclusion by referring to the Bechdel Test as a collection of data and closes with a new goal society should reach towards. “Rather than replacing persons with networks, I see the Bechdel Test as encouraging us to place persons within networks” (Selisker, 2015: 519). Selisker would like for society to insert themselves into these networks that he presents in his analysis and go further than just seeking out the presence of women who talk about something other than man.

Scheiner-Fisher & Russell use different examples of films with more prominent female characters to promote gender equity in history. They created a list of movies that both met the criteria for the Bechdel Test and remained popular among their audiences. These films include Elizabeth, Persepolis, and the Diary of Anne Frank. Scheiner-Fisher & Russell credit these films because unlike most films that are seen through the male gaze, “these ten films show women who are capable of carrying their own story and do more than satisfy the ‘chick flick’ narrative” (Scheiner-Fisher & Russell, 2012: 223). These films all pass the Bechdel Test and make strides towards gender equity in film and history.


Gaul, T. S. (2017). Female Relationships in Susanna Rowson’s Sincerity: The Bechdel Test and American Literature Syllabi. Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, 34(1), 141-150.

Lindvall, D. (2013, December). Editorial. Film International (16516826). pp. 4-5.

Scheiner-Fisher, C., & Russell, W. B. (2012). Using Historical Films to Promote Gender Equity in the History Curriculum. Social Studies, 103(6), 221-225. doi:10.1080/00377996.2011.616239

Selisker, S. (2015, Summer). The Bechdel Test and the Social Form of Character Networks. New Literary History, 46(3), 505-523.

Image Attribution: “Bechdel Test” by Srravya is licensed under CC0 by 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Written by Michael Mensah, 2018

Birmingham School

The Birmingham School, better known as the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, was a research center at the University of Birmingham. Founded by Richard Hoggart in 1964, the school played a major role in the development of cultural studies not only in Britain, but across the globe. Cultural studies can be defined as the study of culture with the intention to understand a society and its politics (Sebastion 2017). It has become normal to associate The Birmingham School with the creation of this global idea of cultural studies (Connell 2015).

Established as a post graduate research institution, the school’s main focus, Sebastian (2017) explains, was to “contest the cultural elitism of literary theory” (p. 3) and to look deeper into the way culture and the people of society go together. For post-war British democrats, the CCCS provided a “point of focus” for the way the new generation of British democrats interacted with an increasingly affluent culture which was constantly being introduced to new forms of mass media (Connell 2015). The teachings here were rooted in the fact that culture was recognized as something that maintained a political order (Sebastian 2017).

Jack1However, the main approach of the Centre was to look at reconstructing the theory of pop culture into one that stated that pop culture is a way of resistance for the marginalized groups of society. Other approaches to investigating cultural studies included ideas from Antonio Gramsci, a leader for Mussolini’s Communist party who was later jailed by the Fascists and in jail, wrote a book called The Prison Notebooks (1948). In this book he describes the way elites maintain power over society using domination and power to create a sense of obedience and consent among the people. Better known as hegemony, this became another main course of study for the CCCS as it turned the focus of study towards mass media and pop culture to study the domination effect that it truly has on society (Sebastian 2017).

The CCCS was incredibly active and diligent in its quest to become a major research institution of cultural studies (Connell 2015). Typically, work began as a discussion of individual’s findings in certain areas of cultural studies which was then followed by field work and ethnography work (Sebastian 2017). Annual reports were also done to recap all the new findings and investigative work done the previous year. On a weekly basis, members of the Centre would alternate between the research of one single significant text and a person’s individual findings as a result of the research. This eventually developed into a broader infrastructure involved with academic debate and discussion (Connell 2015).

In the Centre’s first year, there were only six full time students involved with it. Other members of the staff included Hoggart, Michael Green who was a member of the University’s English department, and a secretary. However, the student sit-in of 1968 not only catapulted the Centre into notoriety, but also led to the departure of the founder, Richard Hoggart (Connell 2015). When Hoggart’s successor, Stuart Hall took over as director of the CCCS, the school began to apply Louis Althusser’s beliefs and urge to study subcultural groups and why they make the decisions they make. As the CCCS continued to grow in the background of the rising New British Left, many founders of the New Left became important members of the CCCS such as Hoggart, Hall, Raymond Williams, and historian E.P. Thompson. This created a balanced influence between work on cultural studies and looking at the new form of politics (Sebastian 2017).

Jack2By 1973, there were 39 students, the Centre was financially backed by the University, and it began to focus more on its famous “sub-group” model of research. In the academic year of 1975-76, cultural studies was first offered as a M.A. and had over 50 students involved with the Centre. Cultural studies, however, was often  misunderstood due to the fact that many of the subject areas were initially regarded by higher ranking colleges of the school and other institutions as irrelevant and unimportant (Connell 2015).

The Centre became the center of political and academic scrutiny due to misunderstanding because of the unorthodox approach to challenging academic organizations. Former members of the school argue that the University was the school’s main enemy due to its lack of funding after the events of 1968 when the Centre began to flourish on its own. Another enemy of the school was some members of the British far left who disagreed and were upset at the embracement of Althusserian  structuralism, also known as structural Marxism. Political issues involving feminism and race led to major division among the Center which, in turn, resulted in the departure of Hoggart’s successor, Stuart Hall in 1979. The University of Birmingham not only refused to properly fund the Centre, but treated it in a nonsensical manner shown by its many re-organizations of the institution as well as its final close decades later (Connell 2015). In 2002, management at the University chose to shut down and finally end the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (Sebastian 2017).


Connell, Kieran, & Hilton, Matthew. (2015). The Working Practices of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Taylor & Francis Group, Vol. 40 (30). Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03071022.2015.1043191

Sebastian, Bibin. (2017). Birmingham School of Cultural Studies: An Overview. International Journal of Advance Research and Innovative Ideas, Vol. 3(5), 1338-1342. http://ijariie.com/AdminUploadPdf/BIRMINGHAM_SCHOOL_OF_CULTURAL_STUDIES__AN_OVERVIEW__ijariie6810.pdf

Image Attribution: The first image used in this post is in the Public Domain. The second image used in the post is by mattbuck and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License CC BY-SA 3.0

Written by Jack Greer, 2018

Cantril’s Psychology of Panic

In Hadley Cantril’s book The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic he examines the effects of the CBS War of the Worlds broadcast. His work used direct but inaccurate examples to analyze the after effects of the broadcast. After the broadcast he analyzed responses from interviewees to conclude that the reality of the fictional alien invasion was based upon the education and the ego of the individual listening (Laughey, 2007).

Hadley Cantril, a Princeton social psychologist, started his work on the psychology of panic after the War of the Worlds broadcast on October 30, 1938 (Laughey, 2007). The broadcast covered a dramatized performance of the H.G. Wells novel starring a cast of actors, including Orson Wells. Some listeners of the broadcast believed CBS was broadcasting a live alien invasion in New Jersey. While Cantril is credited for the psychology of panic, Paul Lazarfeld and Frank Stanton were also focusing on measuring the spread of panic at the time (Socolow, 2008).

After interviewing 135 listeners Cantril concluded that there were five main reasons listeners were so vulnerable to the reality of the broadcast (Laughey, 2007). The five reasons were the pedestalization of radio, the prestige of the speakers, the dramatization of the speakers’ voices, the use of notable locations in the area, and the overall tension added to the radio performance (Laughey, 2007). After conducting the interviews Cantril invested himself in the psychology behind listeners susceptibility.

In The Public Opinion Quarterly Cantril defined the psychology behind mobs and panics. Mobs begin as crowds of people that take a course of action to achieve a certain goal (Cantril, 1943). Members are characterized by having a common need or desire for someone to explain their hardships (Cantril, 1943). Listeners of the War of the Worlds broadcast were brought together by the alleged alien invasion. Panics occur when people are in a group and do not address the catastrophe at hand (Cantril, 1943). Panics are often attached to personal psychological issues.

After analyzing the personal lives of his interviewees, Cantril found seven characteristics of susceptibility. The personal characteristics found were: social insecurity, phobias, amount of worry, lack of self-confidence, fatalism, religiously, and frequency of church attendance (Laughey, 2007). Cantril found that education was a defining factor in listeners’ understanding of reality during the broadcast (Cantril, 1943). He attached the higher percentage of vulnerability in southern states to the large amount of poor and educated listeners in the area (Cantril, 1940). An educated listener would have likely sought out other news sources for validation of the alien attack. While education played a role in understanding reality, the underling cause of panic comes from “a perceived threat to an individual’s Ego” (Laughey, 2007, p. 18). A threat to one’s ego would cause a high degree of susceptibility, which would send the individual into panic. The relationship between the individual and their ego mediates their susceptibility to mass panic.

Cantril’s theory was subject to criticism from other scholars due to his methodology. He greatly exaggerates the ‘widespread’ panic across the nation when only 2% of all American’s experienced the ‘mass panic’ described in his work (Laughey, 2007). His work is heavily based on estimates and manipulation. Upon realizing many interviewees could have lied Cantril manipulated the numbers so that they would work in favor of his argument (Socolow, 2008). Cantril’s interviews were also biased because all the individuals interviewed were New Jersey inhabitants (Socolow, 2008). Of the 135 interviewees, 100 were known to have been upset by the broadcast (Socolow, 2008). Therefore, Cantril did not examine a diverse pool of listeners. His original colleagues, Stanton and Lazarsfeld, were not pleased with Cantril’s finished work. Both scholars believed that Cantril’s publication was based of off assumptions (Socolow, 2008). The issues with Cantril’s methodology were resolved throughout the evolution of his work.

Cantril’s emphasis on radio as a key factor in the realism of the broadcast influenced Marshall McLuhan’s theory that the medium is the message. This theory gives power to the medium instead of the message itself (Laughey, 2007). Therefore, without the proper medium a message could lose its value. The War of the Worlds broadcast could have had different effects if it had been broadcast on another medium because of radio’s high authority during the time. According to Cantril, “radio was – and still is – an accepted medium for important announcements” (Laughey, 2007, p. 17). In America radio was used to broadcast important news such as election returns and war updates (Cantril, 1940). People, especially in lower income and educational brackets, began to rely on radio for news instead of print newspapers (Cantril, 1940). During the 1938 broadcast listeners reliance and belief in the radio modified their ability to further investigate the ‘alien’ invasion. Technological naturalism, or the evolution of new media, makes change invisible to society (Czitrom, 1951). As listeners adapted to radio news they avoided validation from other sources to confirm the alleged invasion.

Hadley Cantril’s psychology of panic focused on listeners’ reactions to the War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938. His theory on the mental causes and effects of mass behavior can be applied to historical events such as the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s and the Satanism Panic in the 1980s.


Examination of a Witch

The Salem Witch Trials began in 1692 in Massachusetts after a slave named Tituba was said to have performed acts of witchcraft on two young girls (Billings, 2013). The Puritans believed the two young girls and concluded that any strange mark on the body of an accused women was the mark where the devil sucked the blood of a witch (Billings, 2013). Colonists experienced hysteria after learning they could be living among witches. The Puritans began searching women’s bodies for physical signs left by the devil, which led to the immediate execution of six women (Billings, 2013). Alleged ‘witches’ were forced to accuse other women of witchcraft. The witchcraft fever spread quickly and the judges revived an old law to make witchcraft a capital offense (Billings,


Representation of a Trial

2013). Judges began to accept confession as regeneration and were merciful to witches who did confess, however, as Puritans many ‘witches’ were not willing to lie even if it could save their life (Billings, 2013). By the time the panic was over twenty women convicted of witchcraft had been executed (Billings, 2013). Like listeners of the War of the Worlds broadcast, the Puritans did not seek out evidence to validate claims during Salem Witch Trials, but instead relied on accusations from the public.

The satanism panic in the 1980s revolved around alleged satanic cults that were terrorizing the nation. One of the most publicized cult cases was the McMartin case. The McMartin Preschool trials began after a young mother insisted her 2-year-old was raped by a male employee at the daycare upon finding his bottom red (DeYoung, 1997). The mother took her son to multiple physicians before finally getting a reluctant diagnosis of


Depiction of Satan

sexual abuse (DeYoung, 1997). Soon all parents of children enrolled at McMartin were contacted and panic began in the California town (DeYoung, 1997). The sex crime was labeled as satanic ritual abuse and began widespread hysteria during the 1980s (DeYoung, 1997). The children being interviewed soon learned what investigators wanted to hear and began accusing everyone they knew of assault, including their parents (DeYoung, 1997). Panic swept across the nation as numerous day cares were accused satanic ritual abuse. The McMartin case and the satanism panic in the 1980s was based largely on assumptions and unreliable interviews, like Cantril’s study.


DeYoung, Mary. (1997). The Devil goes to Day Car: McMartin and the Making of a Moral Panic. In Journal of American Culture (pp. 19-25). Great Britain: Wiley–Blackwell.

Billings, W. & Manning, K. (2013). Salem Witchcraft Trials. In Salem Press Encyclopedia.

Cantril, H. (1940). The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Cantril, H. (1943). Causes and Control of Riot and Panic. In The Public Opinion Quarterly (pp. 669-679). Oxford University Press.

Czitrom, D. (1982). Media and the American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan. The University of North Carolina Press.

Laughey, D. (2007). Modernity and Medium Theory. In Key Themes in Media Theory (pp. 30-53). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Laughey, D. (2007). Behaviorism and media effects. In Key Themes in Media Theory (pp. 7-29). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Socolow, M. (2008). The Hyped Panic Over ‘War of the Worlds’. In Chronicle of Higher Education (pp. B16-B17). Washington D.C.

Image Attribution: The images used in the entry are in the Public Domain.

Written by Jacklyn Russo, 2018.

Chicago School

Liz 1The first American academic institution to open a sociology department was the University of Chicago. The university itself was established in 1892, during the progressive Era.  Robert E. Park was a very influential figure in the Chicago school, providing it with new perspectives and urban themes.  Other key players were Ernest W. Burgess and Louis Wirth, both interested in the exploration of urban research and sociology (Lutters & Ackerman, 1996).

In communications and media studies, the Chicago School is one of several schools of paradigms.  Each school is well known for its unique set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitute a particular way of viewing the world in an intellectual discipline. Sociologists use these paradigms when attempting to solve a problem or answer a question.  The Chicago School of sociology was established with the purpose to gain a better understanding of the relationship that exists between individuals, communities, and societies.  Chicago School researchers were interventionist; looking to find problem, create a solution, and intervene. The Chicago School as a paradigm believed that media and communications play a central role in shaping individual, as well as collective lives. The Chicago School is interdisciplinary, mainly pulling from sociology and philosophy as a guide for its approach.  The Chicago School mainly explores theory of social change and processed.  It used the city of Chicago as its laboratory to explore social challenges in question.

From the beginning of the 20th century to 1950s the Chicago School was at its peak and evolving very quickly. The Chicago School was its most influential between World War I and the Great Depression.  During this time, American cities demonstrated a rapid increase in population (Lutters & Ackerman, 1996).  In 1890 Chicago’s population was about 1 million people. By the 1930’s its population tripled to over 3 million people. With a large amount of immigration and migration, Chicago became an ethnic melting pot (Bulmer,1986).  The Social urban changes such as this one, are precisely the type of phenomenon’s the Chicago School strive to answer.  The Chicago School began to focus on ethical and racial intermixture in Chicago, as well as urbanization (Bulmer,1986).  The images below visually demonstrate the urbanization of Chicago during this time period.


Liz together

South Water Street in Chicago in 1884 (left) v. South Water Street in Chicago in 1915 (right)

The Chicago School uses both a quantitative and a qualitative methodology.  A quantitative methodology is an empirical Approach, using statistics, mathematics, or computational strategies.  It is an analysis data-based. A qualitative approach is primarily exploratory research. This methodology helps to place the issue at hand in context, allowing researchers to dive deeper into the problem.  The Chicago School did however have issues. An example being its normative and moralistic way of creating solutions. It solved problems and created solutions based on a moral; when an individual’s moral compass is open to subjectivity.  Therefore, solutions created by the Chicago School to a degree were considered bias.  This paradigm also strives to create social reform.  The issue being it believes science was able to determine the correct solution for a social problem.  However, the Chicago School is well known and credited for its “scientization” of mass communication research.  The Chicago School remains one of the most significant historical advancements in sociology. It revolutionized our understanding of urbanization as a social science by closely observing and analyzing Chicago’s own repaid expansions. The Chicago school also helped develop our understanding of human geography and ethnographic research methods (Bulmer,1986).


Bulmer, M. (1986). The Chicago school of sociology: Institutionalization, diversity, and the rise of sociological research. University of Chicago Press.

Lutters, W. G., & Ackerman, M. S. (1996). An introduction to the Chicago School of Sociology. Interval Research Proprietary, 02-06.

Image Attribution: Image 1 is licensed under 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Images 2 and 3 are in the public domain.

Written by Elizabeth Kearney, 2018


Citizen Journalism

Citizen Journalism is a grassroots movement in which average citizens, rather than trained/professional journalists, use the internet to relay information and stories. The term “citizen journalism” was created in the year 2000, according to the Salem Press Encyclopedia (Kivak 2016). This form of broadcasting became more popular as people felt a lot of important news was often being, “ignored by mainstream media,” (Kivak 2016). Technology as it is known today allows citizen journalists to share news easily and quickly. This is most often done in the form of blogs and social media posts.


This image is a depiction of what a lot of citizen journalism looks like today. This is a fair use image as it is being used for educational purposes.


Although types of citizen journalism have existed in the United States since the beginning of the country’s time, it was not until the late 1990s that this style of broadcasting started to become popular. With the rise of popularity of the internet, citizen journalism had a place to grow and spread much more easily than ever before. This has led to a decrease in viewers for many customary media outlets (Kivak 2016) and caused more competition in the media world. The internet now contains “thousands of alternative news sites,” and millions of blogs (Kivak 2016). It is these sorts of networks that are competing with and changing the role of traditional journalism. With this, “it is estimated that there are 1.6 million new postings per day,” in the world of blogging (Huang 2007). That amount is constantly growing along with the number of blogs themselves.

Even with the rise of citizen journalism, there is skepticism that comes with it. Many people worry that, “non-professionals may not be considered as credible as professional journalists,” due to their lack of education on the matter (Kivak 2016). There is worry that many untrained journalists do not separate their bias from their news posts. Without the same amount of regulation as is required in traditional journalism, this prejudice is a possibility.


This image represents citizen journalism in the form of social media. This is a fair use image as it is being used for educational purposes.

Not all forms of citizen journalism are news stories. It is common on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to see posts sharing an opinion, although still often on the topic of a current event. These ideas being shared can potentially spread new thoughts as the posts increase views, “globally and instantly on the Internet,” (Kivak 2016). This is one major motivation behind citizen journalism, average people having the opportunity to contribute their beliefs to the most recent events happening in the world.

Within citizen journalism, specifically blogging, it is more common to see a variety of types of articles. While social media posts often contain information about politics or current events, blogs vary a bit more. Bloggers five major motivations are, “self-expression, life documenting, commenting, forum participating, and information searching,” (Huang 2007). Blogs are also more likely to contain emotional and personal details. This information shows that within citizen journalism, there are many differing types of ideas being spread.

Despite the fact that citizen journalism has struggled to gain a ton of credibility, especially compared to traditional journalism, citizen journalism is building and growing trust. More large media outlets are creating their own blogs and incorporating citizen journalism into their workforce. Citizen journalism is a continuously growing phenomenon that allows expression of any person who has access to the internet.




Kivak, R. (2016). Citizen Journalism. Salem Press Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://washcoll.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=119214038&site=eds-live

Chun-Yao Huang, Yong-Zheng Shen, Hong-Xiang Lin, & Shin-Shin Chang. (2007). Bloggers’ Motivations and Behaviors: A Model. Journal of Advertising Research47(4), 472–484.




Written by Amy Luther, 2018.

Collective Intelligence & Modding

jacob 1

Example of a strategy guide

Collective Intelligence in the realm of video games have been around since the industry’s formation. Collective Intelligence is the collaboration of gamers and fans of video games working together to share a variety of resources that enhance the experience of gaming. This includes but is not limited to strategy guides, walkthroughs, cheat codes, secrets and “Easter Eggs” (small pieces of content hidden throughout the game that may be difficult to find), and modifications (McGonigal 2005). Collective Intelligence can be found in any realm where video games are discussed. Originally, gaming magazines were the primary source of gaming Collective Intelligence, where readers could write in about cheat codes, ask for help with difficult parts of games, as well as discuss their opinions on the games popular at this time (Drayson 2012). This was essentially the sole form of Collective Intelligence from the start of the gaming industry until the early 2000s.

In the early 2000s, the primary forms of Collective Intelligence for strategy and cheat codes shifted towards strategy guides specific towards a singular video game, or into books that were full of only cheat codes for a variety of popular games (McGonigal 2005). Magazines were still prevalent at this time, but their focus primarily shifted towards rating and discussing popular games as well as the gaming industry in general. These magazines are still doing basically the same thing today, however, printed strategy guides and cheat code books became all but nonexistent after the internet changed how gamers interact with each other around 2010. Online strategy guides became easily accessible in a variety of forms, ranging from video walkthroughs, forums, and written walkthroughs. Instead of writing into a magazine or purchasing a book, cheat codes were a few clicks away online.  While the medium in which Collective Intelligence has changed over the years, the goal of enhancing the individual experience of playing video games with assistance and contribution from the larger gaming community has remained the same.

Video Game Modding is a practice that has also been around since the inception of the industry. Modding is the practice of modifying the source code of a video game to improve the experience of playing the game. This includes, but is not limited to, cosmetic changes that don’t change gameplay (altering the appearance of one or many aspects of the game), changing aspects of a game to change the difficulty of the game, or expanding the game by addition of new areas or characters (Drayson 2012). This practice was not very common at the beginning of the video game industries life; it did not enhance the games enough, and for enough people, for arcade owners to invest in modifying games. Modding became a more prevailing part of gaming culture during the console era. It was still a tedious process to download mods onto consoles, but the mods became increasingly available and advanced.

jacob 2

Example of a mod

However, modding was still not a dominant part of video game culture until the popularization of online gaming, primarily on the gaming site “Steam”. The graphical capabilities of online gaming paired with easy access to source code created an easier way to mod games (Drayson 2012). This ushered in a massive new aspect of gaming culture and Collective Intelligence, as these mods became as discussed about as the games themselves. Community members even began to request mods into their favorite games, causing a market for requested mods. For example, one Steam user made a post in a forum joking about wanting to play as then Presidential Candidate Donald Trump in Rocksteady Studio’s Batman game. A little over a week later, a new mod appeared in Steam’s modification store (a place where users can buy and sell gaming mods) allowing gamers everywhere to play as Donald Trump in game, for a small price. Making cosmetic changes to the game like the example above are the most common form of modding today. This online “Mod Market” has created a new form of Collective Intelligence in gaming, where gamers can discuss new mods, request a specific change they would like to see, and sell their current mods (McGonigal 2005).


Drayson, H. (2012). Players Unleashed! Modding The Sims and the Culture of Gaming (review). Leonardo 45(5), 491-493. The MIT Press. Retrieved December 4, 2017, from Project MUSE database.

McGonigal, J. (2005). SuperGaming: Ubiquitous Play and Performance for Massively Scaled Community. Modern Drama 48(3), 471-481. University of Toronto Press. Retrieved December 3, 2017, from Project MUSE database.

Image Attribution: Image #1“Final Fantasy (NES) Super Nintendo Strategy Guide” by Bryan Ochalla is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0; Image #2: “New PC Mod Takes You Beyond Gotham City in Arkham Knight” by BagoGames is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Written by Jacob Gonzalez, 2017.

Commodity-Image System

At its most basic definition, a commodity is an object that is bought or sold in our society. The commodity image system is referring to the process of advertising of these objects and how advertising processes affect our culture. Sut Jhally is a professor at Amherst who wrote “Image Based Culture” in 1990. He says that the idea of a society based in a commodity image system means that the advertising that we create shows us a better life. It leads us to believe that we can receive self-validation from the things that we buy based on the advertiser’s success in convincing us. The things we buy can give us happiness and a better life. He also explains that “the development of tv ensured that images were our primary commercial mode of communication”.  Advertising has taught us to comprehend these images for their benefit as well. The inclusion of more third world countries has contributed to the spread of this system.  (Jhally 1990). Later Jhally uses this concept to talk about how the resources in our world are affected (Daniel 1999). The example that he uses in the article is of a diamond rings meaning to our portrayal of a relationships value. We have been taught that the diamond is a symbol elizabethof our love for our spouse. However, it is not a natural human concept if not for the advertising that we have created that has taught us that “a diamond is forever.” He highlights the transition from an agrarian society to industrialization which has encouraged the transition in advertising to a commodity image system (Jhally 1990). This transition has created the commodity image system in which we are surrounded by images of our potential future and dreams which can be achieved by buying the products advertised.


Daniel, B. (1999). ADVERTISING AND THE END OF THE WORLD Sut Jhally. The Radical Teacher, (57), 34.

Jhally, S. (1990). Image based culture: advertising and pop culture. The World and I. Article 17591. http://www.worldandilibrary.com.

Image attribution: CCO commons, no attribution needed

Written by Elizabeth Bergstrom, 2017

Communications Act of 1934

The Communications Act of 1934 was passed on June 19, 1934, during the presidency ofmax Franklin D. Roosevelt. The means of this Act was for the Government to regulate telephone, telegraph, radio and other broadcasting forms for the public. Through this Act, the United States Government demanded that those licensed to broadcast do so with the intent of, “public interest, convenience, and necessity.” coming directly from the Act (M.G.F 1935). The Communications Act of 1934 also created the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which replaced the Federal Radio Commission.

The Communications Act of 1934 is broken down into six main sections. The first section of this Act includes the creation of the FCC, along with the purpose of creating the Act. Quoted from the first section on the Communications Act of 1934, this section is “For the purpose of regulating interstate and foreign commerce in communication by wire and radio so as to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States…” (United States, 1989). This meant that public information was going to be rapidly spread throughout the United States with the help of the new broadcasting standards implemented.

The second section of the Act deals with the common carrier regulations. This created a set of requirements providers had to abide by when providing telecommunication services, along with a competitive market between providers, making the costs of services lower for consumers. The third section pertains to radio communication and defining wired communication. This gave licensing rights to broadcasting stations from the government. Finally, the last three sections all deal with procedural provisions and penalties for controlled agencies if they do not follow their rules and regulations, as well as miscellaneous information to bring the Communications Act of 1934 to a close (M.G.F. 1935).

max 2Hurwitz (1991) describes just how important the Communications Act of 1934 really is for America. He claims that the Act stayed around through the entire technology revolution, mostly in part to its flexibility. The Act gives power to the Federal Communications Commission, but in very loose terms. For example, the quote, “public interest, convenience, and necessity” has a very broad meaning, which allows them to expand on it, under reasonable terms. Not having a clear definition of this phrase caused courts and other officials to argue that it would be unconstitutional for the government to use its licensing power without a clearly defined definition (Brotman, 2017). This also means that the Act is not constricted in any way, which allowed the document to be amended if need. Creating this Act gave the government a basic outline for later acts to come such as the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The Communications Act of 1934 played a significant role in American society with the communications networks expanding. While these networks expanded, the Federal Communications Commission’s influence expanded alongside. The largest role that the Communications Act of 1934 played on the American people was accessible media throughout the country, and the rapid spread of it through public broadcasting services, which were overlooked by the government. Lastly, it made media and news affordable to all people by creating competition between service providers, in an effort to not leave anyone out (Brotman, 2017).


Brotman, S. N. (2017). Revisiting the broadcast public interest standard in communications law and regulation. Retrieved December 07, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/research/revisiting-the-broadcast-public-interest-standard-in-communications-law-and-regulation/

Hurwitz, L. (1991). The Journal of American History, 77(4), 1469-1470. doi:10.2307/2078442

M. G. F. (1935). Communications Act of 1934. Virginia Law Review, 21(3), 318-325. doi:10.2307/1067097

United States. (1989). Compilation of the Communications Act of 1934 and related provisions of law: including Communications Act of 1934, Communications Satellite Act of 1962, selected provisions from the United States Code. Washington: U.S. G.P.O.: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O.

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the Public Domain

Written by Max Hammond, 2017

Conflict-Orientated Journalism

Conflict oriented journalism is a term that exists through the continuous evolution of newspapers. Conflict oriented journalism is one of 8 approaches to journalism used in today’s newspapers. It is more of a modern journalistic approach that is more commonly used in today’s newspapers. This type of journalism is defined as front-page news that is often defined primarily as events, issues, or experiences that deviate from social norms (Campbell 2017). Conflict journalism differs from consensus journalism because consensus focuses more on local news, and presents information on issues that are not as big or worthy of national attention. Under conflict oriented journalism, journalist see their role not merely as natural fact gathers but also as observes who monitor their city’s institutions and problems (Campbell 2017).

Conflict oriented journalism is only found in regional and national newspapers. This is the front-page news that deviates from social norms because this type of journalism talks about events and issues that can have an impact on everyone in a region, or is a topic that is large enough that can have a significant effect on a whole nation. For example, major news companies such as The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, The LA Times, and the Post-Gazette are all newspapers companies that cover large, significant events and issues that deviate from social norms. These newspaper companies publish articles that are usually more important to society. For example, conflict oriented journalism articles will discuss major political news, natural disasters, and even the major sports stories. There will not be many articles on local school stories, local roads, or stories about events that are taken place in a small community. Conflict oriented journalism, as modern newspapers, believe their role in large cities is to keep a wary eye fixed on recent local and state intrigue and events (Campbell 2017).


This photo by Matt York was taken on Oct. 1, which shows members of the 49ners kneeling before their game against the Arizona Cardinals

Conflict oriented journalism is found in major newspaper companies, but the journalist who make up these articles are journalist who aim at presenting an issue to the public, and allow them to pick a side in whatever the issue is. The journalist in conflicted oriented journalism disengage themselves and leave out their opinion on the specific matter. This results in allowing a reader to choose how he or she would like to pick what they believe is right. Conflict oriented journalism is so wide spread because it shares and discusses national and international coverage. By having the ability to share events and issues on national and international news suggests that there are only a small group of these major newspaper companies that have this type of popularity.

Conflict oriented journalism is seen in Liam Dillon’s article called, “Majority of Californians disagree with President Trump’s handling of NFL protests”. Dillion’s article talks about the protests that have been occurring during the national anthem before NFL games by African American players. The NFL protest was started by Colin Kaepernick over a year ago, who is a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

The issue that is being highlighted by Dillion is that NFL players want to have freedom to protest and fight for racial inequality and police brutality. On the other side, Dillion (2017) shares President Trump feelings about NFL players protesting. These two sides of the issue portray conflict oriented journalism because the journalist talks about the two different viewpoints, and allows the reader to choose which one they believe in. For NFL players, kneeling during the national anthem is bigger than football. For players, it’s about equality, and stopping police brutality on African Americans. According to a poll, it found 38% opposed and 33% supported (Dillon 2017). The poll highlights that many people were against players kneeling during the anthem. These same people feel the players are showing disrespect to the American flag. Players have announced that kneeling has nothing to do with disrespecting the flag, but kneel to support the campaign against social injustices (Dillon 2017).

Kaepernick, along with other players, feel there is no point in standing if Americans don’t go by what the lyrics in the national anthem say. For players, it’s all about justice and equality for African Americans. President Donald Trump had a different approach to the protest. He made it clear that he completely opposed NFL players kneeling during the national anthem before games. President Trump took to twitter, and elevated this issue during a political rally when he called on the NFL commissioner to fire any player who didn’t stand during the anthem, arguing the protests were offensive (Dillon 2017). Trumps comments on the protest caused a major divided between blacks and some whites. Bob Shrum, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said blacks feel very strongly about this. Republicans have taken the lead from Trump and they feel strongly about it. And overall, you have people very much divided (Dillon 2017). President Trump had not only bashed NFL players for protesting, but he also divided the country by leading republicans to believe what he thought was right.

Some disagreed with President Trumps handling on the protests. However, others in America agreed with his tactics. Dillion (2017) explained how 57 percent of those surveyed believed Trump should have never acted this way towards NFL players. Only 18% of Americans supported President Trumps beliefs in calling out NFL players (Dillon 2017). This poll suggests that no matter what he says, Trump will always have a following behind him. Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, players have continuously protested the national anthem, with an increase in white players kneeling as well. However, there has still been a significant divide between President Trump and NFL players. Dillon presents the facts and issues, explaining President Trumps side, and the NFL players side. Conflict oriented journalism is so important because it allows readers to choose which side of an issue they want to take, without having the personal opinions of the journalist.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. 251-286. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Dillon, L. (2017, November 12). Majority of Californians disagree with President Trump’s handling of NFL protests. Retrieved December 06, 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-nfl-protests-poll-20171112-story.html

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is from Matt York and the Associated Press.

Written by G. Austin Allen, 2017

Consensus-Orientated Journalism

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Chestertown, Maryland’s local newspaper

Consensus oriented journalism is generally found in smaller local newspapers. This particular type of journalism in usually found in small communities, newspapers that promote social and economic harmony by providing community calendars, and meeting notices (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Forbes 2017). Also, some of these articles talk about local schools, social events, town government, property crimes, and zoning issues (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Forbes 2017). Similar to an earlier time in American History, small newspapers are sometimes owned by business leaders who may also serve as local politicians (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Forbes 2017). Consensus oriented journalism papers have a small advertising base, so they are generally careful not to offend local advertisers (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Forbes 2017). They do not want to offend the local advertisers, because they finance a lot of the costs for these papers. The goal of these papers is to foster a sense of community, but at their worst, they overlook or downplay discord and problems.

For example, in an article written by the Chestertown Spy titled “Dickens of a Christmas” (Spy Desk 2017) The article talks about the excitement of bringing Victorian London and the spirit of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale, “A Christmas Carol”. This article would be considered consensus oriented journalism, because it is in a local newspaper, the topic is on a social event, and the article brings social harmony and excitement to the community.

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UMD’s campus newspaper

Furthermore, in an article titled “UMD Graduate Student Government elects new president after impeaching the last one” in the Diamondback Newspaper, which is University of Maryland’s newspaper (Fortson 2017). They talk about a meeting that took place in order to find a new president, after the first president was caught misusing the funds. They student government body elected Michael Goodman a second-year doctorate student as their new president. This would be considered consensus oriented journalism because the article is in a relatively small newspaper. Also, because the article talks about meeting that was held, and everyone in the meeting agreed that there had to be a new president put in place immediately.

In conclusion, consensus oriented journalism is generally found in small local newspapers that promote social and economic harmony. Usually, these articles support their advertisers’ beliefs because they do not want to lose the funding that is coming into the newspaper, so it is not shut down. Sometimes these newspapers are also owned by business leaders, therefore, the beliefs of the owners are also taken into consideration when it comes to writing an article. The goal of these articles is to come up with a general consensus on a topic and write a positive article regarding it. These articles also are typically written about local schools, sporting events, town meetings, zoning issues, town government, and also property crimes. Consensus oriented journalism is a good way to get the majorities opinion across to an entire community, and to let people know what is happening in the community.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & culture: mass communication in a digital age. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, Macmillan Learning.

“Dickens of a Christmas” Brings Victorian Fun Dec. 1-3. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2017, from http://chestertownspy.org/2017/12/01/dickens-of-a-christmas-brings-victorian-fun-dec-1-3/

Noah Fortson “UMD Graduate Student Government elects new president after impeaching the last one.” Retrieved December 06, 2017, from http://www.dbknews.com/2017/12/04/umd-gsg-president-new-impeach-elect/

Image Attribution: Both images used in this post are in the Public Domain

Written by Shane Silk, 2017

Critical Race Media Studies

Critical race media studies is defined as the interventionist research frame, with methodological variability, that examines the intersections of culture, race, law, and power in the media. The creation of Critical Race Media Studies comes from the combination of Critical Race Theory and Media Studies.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a critical examination of society and culture, to the intersection of race, law, and power (Gordon 2006). CRT began in the 1980’s by the early work of Alan Freeman and Derrick Bell as a response to critical legal studies, a critical theory school whose beliefs were that laws are used to maintain society’s power structures and class systems (Oremus 2012). CRT has a complete understanding that racism is built in the system of American culture and society (Gordon 2006). The goal of those who work with CRT is to expose the roots and preservation of white supremacy and employ in social justice.

As the world constantly makes new advancements in technology and creative endeavors, media continues to have positive and negative effects on race. It is a social construction that is incorrectly thought of as a universal or essential category of biology. Media does an excellent job of producing meanings of race and structuring the way the world understands race, whether positive or negative.

Impacts of Media on Race

While some see her as a complete detriment to the image of women of color and the success of black culture, Beyoncé Knowles (American singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress) has become an icon and has arguably had one of the largest effects on race through the media she produces. Throughout her career, Knowles has released numerous projects that have inspired the minds of African Americans and boosted the integrity of black culture. “When Beyoncé speaks, people listen” said Washington Post markreporter Andrea Peterson when discussing Beyoncé’s powerful effect on the Black Lives Matter movement (Peterson 2016). Beyoncé’s online presence has incredible results. Her Instagram account has 77 million followers and she uses the social media platform to address constant dilemmas with racial inequalities in America. (Peterson 2016). One of her latest music videos titled “Formation” was filled with inspirational messages and themes that deal with overcoming racial discriminations (Wortham Morris Caramanica 2016). New York Times titled their review of the music video “Beyoncé in ‘Formation’: Entertainer, Activist, Both?” (2016).

Black Twitter is another example of a media that has a positive effect on race. Black Twitter is a cultural identity on Twitter, and social media platform, that focuses on issues in the black community. One of the most recent examples of Black Twitter’s effect on race is the response to the announcement of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement. Meghan Markle will become the first African American to join the Royal family. After the news, Black Twitter immediately expressed its enthusiasm and positivity towards the engagement (Fischer 2017). This link shows several posts and reactions towards the engagement.

Media has had an incredibly large effect on the preservation of stereotypes that exists in modern day America. Since the 1990’s, shows such as “In Living Color” and “Martin” have had many negative effects to race and the stereotypes that exists in America. While they have proven to be entertaining and popular during their times, these shows confuse ignorant viewers on certain aspects of race. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Derrick Adams, African American artists on black culture, claims that “There’s nothing wrong with featuring so many over-the-top personalities, but for some people watching these shows, that’s the only representation of black people they have. These characters become representations of the black personality” (Frank 2016). Shows such as these, that deal with over exaggerated African American characters, reinforce stereotypes of black culture that have the ability to negatively affect race relations and the overall goal of racial equality.


Caramanica, J Morris, W and Wortham, J (2016, February 06). Beyoncé in ‘Formation’: Entertainer, Activist, Both? Retrieved December 6, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/arts/music/beyonce-formation-super-bowl-video.html

Fischer,M (2017, November 28th) Twitter is already celebrating its Black ‘princess’ Meghan Markle.  Retrieved December 5, 2017, from http://www.revelist.com/internet/black-princess-meghan-markle/10619

Frank, P. (2016, June 16). Artist Explores The Vibrant, Complex History Of Blackness On Television. Retrieved December 04, 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/artist-explores-the-vibrant-complex-history-of-blackness-on-television_us_5761be5ee4b09c926cfe1423

Gordon, L. (2006, August 26). Backup of A Short History of the ‘Critical’ in Critical Race Theory. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20120301005859/http://www.habermas.org/critraceth01bk.htm

Oremus, W. (2012, March 09). How Radical Was that Law Professor Obama Hugged? Retrieved December 6, 2017, from http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/03/derrick_bell_

Peterson, A. (2016, July 10). Beyoncé is a powerful voice for Black Lives Matter. Some people hate her for it. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/07/10/beyonce-is-a-powerful-voice-for-black-lives-matter-some-people-hate-her-for-it/?utm_term=.2bed192c08d9

Race & Ethnicity. Retrieved December 03, 2017, from http://www.criticalmediaproject.org/cml/topicbackground/race-ethnicity/

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Mark Christie, 2017

Cult Media

Cult media is a term that exists through the continuous evolution of its own definition. Although there exists no one fixed definition of cult media, several influential scholars have defined sets of criteria that function as a working definition of cult, which include the overlapping categories of audiences (Jenkins 1992, Janvocivh 2002), knowledge/trivia (Hills 2003, Hunt 2003), reception and practice (Hills 2002 and 2007, Jancovich and Hunt 2004, Sconce 1995), identification (Eco 1985, Jenkins 1992, Telotte 1991), and taste cultures (Bourdieu 1973 and 1984, Thornton 1996).

Eco (1985) produced the foundational cult classification system, outlining the baseline criteria functioning to transform a text into a cult text. First, the text must provide a fully developed world, allowing audiences the ability to quote pieces of that world, developing trivia games as an expression of their knowledge around the text. Secondly, the narrative and characters in the text should demonstrate some type of archetypal appeal, which allows for various levels of identification and association among audiences. Thirdly, the text should contain some level of imperfection, which lends itself to an alternate type of valuation.

Fourth, the text should have the ability to be broken apart, allowing for pieces to become unhinged from the whole. Audiences can then utilize those pieces as a type of selective memory around the text, and they can also use them as the building blocks for additional, and personalized, engagement. And lastly, the text should display a multitude of ideas, exhibiting a messy coherence, which can extend beyond its ideology to its actual production. From this basic matrix, Eco works to construct a type of classification system for texts who verge on cult status, as well as providing a framework for further theoretical development.

Le Guern (2004) takes this classification system and refocuses it to highlight the importance of the audience in the cult making process, and the affirmation that to assign anything as ‘cult’ automatically expresses a value judgment. This judgment is underscored by the privileged position granted to oppositional readings, as well as through the expression of cultural preference activated by placing the text into the cult


The adoration heaped on Ed Wood’s classically terrible film Plan 9 From Outer Space is an example of  Telotte’s concept of cultists rebelling against mainstream taste culture.

canon (Telotte 1991). This positions cult texts as pleasurable transgressions against normative taste cultures.

It is specifically this transgressive appreciation as an act of independence against established taste cultures that works to draw audiences to cult media products. He says: “Cultists might well be said to love such differences, for to them they suggest something unusual, noteworthy, and valuable not just about the movies, but about their own character, too” (Telotte, 1991: 5). This demonstrates how cult audiences draw pleasure not only from transgressing traditional tastes cultures, but also by utilizing them as markers of identity creation.

This is valuation of transgression as an expression of the cultural capital of both the text and its audiences is a key factor in the epistemology of cult (Le Guern 2004). What differs between Eco and Le Guern is the latter’s focus on the role of the audience, rather than on the formal aspects of the text, which create it as cult. This audience based emphasis will become a critical component for contemporary iterations of the idea of cult texts.

Jenkins is perhaps the most well-known scholar to take up the mantle of audience empowerment and participation. Jenkins (1992) focuses on the participation of audiences as fans. Participation is what works to define media as cult; simply, it is what the fans do with the text that defines said texts as cult or not (Jenkins 1992). What they ‘do’ can be defined across a wide spectrum, but all of their actions rest on some kind of participation within a broader fan community. This emphasis on audience participation, both physical, emotional, and psychological, is the deciding factor on creating cult for theorists like Le Guern and Jenkins.

Matt Hills (2002) continues the exploration of the role of the audience in creating cult texts. Hills determines that cult status is often linked to an overly romanticized ideology, which views cult status through the lens of ‘uniqueness’ or ‘art’ (via auteur appreciation), which echoes Telotte and Le Guern’s claims of value (Hills 2002). In line with Eco, he sees a text’s messy coherence, which he defines as an endlessly deferred narrative, as critical to establishing something as cult. The endlessly deferred narrative allows for continued and uninterrupted fan participation and affect, creating and recreating the cult object.


Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (R. Nice, Trans.) New York and London: Routledge.

Bourdieu, P. (1973) Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction. In R. Brown (Ed.), Knowledge, Education, and Cultural Change (71-99). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Eco, U. (1985) Casablanca: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage. SubStance, 14:2, 3-12.

Hills, M.. (2007). Para-Paracinema: The Friday the 13th Film Series as Other to Trash and Legitimate Film Cultures. In J. Sconce (Ed.), Sleaze Artists: Cinema at the Margins of Taste, Style, and Politics (219-239). Durham: Duke University Press.

Hills, M. (2002). Fan Cultures. London and New York: Routledge.

Hills, M. (2003). Star Wars in Fandom, Film Theory, and the Museum: The Cultural Status of the Cult Blockbuster. In J. Stringer (Ed.), Movie Blockbusters (178-189). London and New York: Routledge.

Hunt, N. (2003). The Importance of Trivia: Ownership, Exclusion, and Authority in Science Fiction Fandom.” In M. Jancovich, A. Lázaro Reboll and A. Willis (Eds.), Defining Cult Movies: The Cultural Politics of Oppositional Taste (185-201). Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Jancovich, M. (2002). Cult Fictions: Cult Movies, Subcultural Capital and the Production of Cultural Distinctions. Cultural Studies, 16:2, 306-322.

Jancovich, M. and N. Hunt. (2004). The Mainstream, Distinction, and Cult TV. In S. Gwenllian-Jones and R. Pearson (Eds.), Cult Television (27-44). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Jenkins, H. (1992). Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. London and New York: Routledge.

Le Guern, P. (2004). Toward a Constructivist Approach to Media Cults. In S. Gwenllian-Jones and R. Pearson (Eds.), Cult Television (3-25). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Sconce, J. (1995). Trashing the Academy: Taste, Excess, and an Emerging Politics of Cinematic Style. Screen, 36:4, 371-392.

Telotte, J.P. (1991). Beyond All Reason: The Nature of the Cult. In J.P. Telotte (Ed.), The Cult Film Experience: Beyond All Reason (5-17). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Thornton, S. (1996) Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Hanover and London: Wesleyan University Press.

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Dr. Alicia Kozma, 2017.

Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies is an academic discipline stemming from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Cultural Studies has its roots in post-World War II Britain, beginning with the Centre’s formation in 1963 (Murphy, 1992).  Under a definition provided by the Center itself in early literature, Cultural Studies can be defined as “an interdisciplinary field which deals with all aspects of culture in relation to social, political and historical development and change” (Murphy, 1992, p. 35).

Patrick 1

University of Birmingham

According to academic Karma R. Chávez (2009), the Centre was established at the University of Birmingham, England under Raymond Williams and director Richard Hoggart, eventually to be succeeded by the Stuart Hall. Hall is often considered one of the most influential names within the field, as Chávez notes, “Under Hall’s leadership, the CCCS shifted its focus from ‘everyday’ cultures to an emphasis on the mass media and the ideological functions and effects of the media” (p. 2). Because of the political dynamic, as broadened and emphasized by Hall, Cultural Studies has continued to be a distinctly interventionist and political academic field, with critics like Frederic Jameson (1993) noting, “the Right seems to have understood that the project and the slogan of Cultural Studies (whatever that may be) constitutes a crucial target in its campaign and virtually a synonym for ‘political correctness’” (p. 17).

Cultural Studies as academic tradition “develops in direct relationship to the history of Marxism” as well as being greatly informed by “structuralist and poststructuralist” (Murphy, 1992, p. 33). The primarily functional means through which Cultural Studies engages with media is through what is known was textual analysis. As Chávez (2009) puts it, “in cultural studies, a text can refer to a written text, but it is more often used to refer to any artifact that requires reading or interpretation” (p. 4). As opposed to literary analysis, a text open for textual analysis can be any piece of media, from a musical album to a video game, but with the emphasis being placed primarily on pop cultural artifacts. Through textual analysis, questions of identities like class, gender, sexuality, and race can all be engaged with through a wide array of media.

Patrick 2Similarly, in a manner influenced by the fields sociological history, Cultural Studies can also encompass broader analysis of media trends. An example of this kind of Cultural Studies can be seen in Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style. In Subculture, Hebdige (1979) presents ways for looking at the political power of youth subcultures in England by observing communities like Black immigrants and white working-class punks, contextualizing their relationships within Marxist and sociological frameworks.

The methodological flexibility of Cultural Studies has, however, often been a point of criticism in other academic disciplines. Critics of the field like physicist Alan Sokal and literary critic Harold Bloom have criticized Cultural Studies as lacking a defined methodological approach and instead functioning as detrimental to other fields, like literary studies (Chávez, 2009). Even within Cultural Studies, academics like Marxist critic Frederic Jameson (1993) have to some degree criticized the emphasis on the theoretical as opposed to the practical within the field.  However, as Jameson also writes, if Cultural Studies is to “be seen as the expression of a projected alliance between various social groups, then its rigorous formulation as an intellectual or pedagogical enterprise may not be quite so important as some of its adherents feel,” as that the sense of shared dialectical purpose eclipses the necessity for uniformity (p.17). Cultural Studies remains an expanding interdisciplinary undertaking united by shared purpose rather than shared methodology, both to praise and detraction, externally and internally.


Chávez, K. (2009) Cultural studies. In S.W. Littlejohn and K.A. Foss (eds.), Encyclopedia of Communication Theory, 1-8. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Hebdige, D. (1979). Subculture: The meaning of style. London: Routledge.

Jameson, F. (1993). On “cultural studies”. Social Text, (34), 17-52. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/466353

Murphy, P. (1992). Cultural studies as praxis: a working paper. College Literature, 19(2), 31-43. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25111965

Image Attribution: Image 1 is in the public domain; Image 2 “The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies” by Diane Griffiths, CC BY 2.0

Written by Patrick Lindsay, 2018

Cultural Theory

Culture theory is a concept created and published by Marxist theorist Raymond Williams. Williams published this theory in 1961 in his piece “The Long Revolution.” Williams’ culture theory was inspired by his curiosity in how the structure of feelings and culture/lifestyles changed from generation to generation in Britain.

Williams determined that it would be impossible to track culture change between generations by analyzing and comparing society as a whole at different times. Instead he chose to compare art and media and how they interacted in different periods. He determined that since media was a key site of cultural interaction in each generation it could be helpful in gauging the structure of feeling in each era. Williams theorized that to get a full picture of the cultural significance of media would need to be analyzed through three different, yet equally important cultural lenses: ideal, documentary, and societal culture of each piece.

The ideal culture of a piece of media is its representation of the process of human perfection, as well as the display of its realtion to absolute and universal values. Ideal culture manifests itself in media as the perceived values and behaviors a perfect individual would display in an equally perfect society. Due to the wealth and power relations related to perfection, especially in media, ideal culture is nearly exclusively apparent in media deemed to be ‘high culture.’ High culture media is typically defined as media that is exclusively available to the wealthy, expensive and difficult to interact with, and/or of a refined taste. Often art will originally lack high culture until an expert in the pieces field comes forward and declares that the piece is high culture. Due to this, a piece can originally lack ideal culture then over time obtain it.

Documentary culture refers to the way media is recorded, preserved, and displayed. Moreover, documentary culture refers to the criticism and reaction that media receives. Williams states that the documentary culture of a given piece of media is the longest lasting form of culture, because after the original carriers of the cultural opinions of a piece die, thee documentation remains. Documentary culture is normally reliant on what the experts in a field think the significance of a piece is, and how to best exemplify this significance. Because a piece can gain significance over time, as well as expert opinion can change, the documentary culture of a piece is subject to change.

Social culture is the third and final lens at which one will analyze a piece when using Williams’ culture theory. Social culture is the perception of a piece by the masses, and how society reacts to a piece of art or media. Social culture, like the previous two cultural lenses at which to view media, are subject to change over time.

It is essential when utilizing Raymond Williams’ culture theory to analyze all three types of a piece’s cultural significance to get a complete picture. No single piece of a piece’s cultural build up is more important than another, and all three lenses must be used and analyzed when applying culture theory. For example, a theorist cannot just analyze the documentary culture of a piece, or just the documentary and ideal culture of a piece. All three types of culture must be analyzed when utilizing Williams’ culture theory.

The final element of Williams’ culture is to analyze how each type of culture changes over time. Keep in mind that Williams’ inspiration for this theory was to analyze how the structure of feeling changes every generation. To utilize media to determine this, it is necessary to analyze how a piece’s ideal, documentary, and social culture changes over time. By analyzing enough pieces of media, one can notice and document trends amongst the cultural change in different media from one generation to the next. It is by analyzing these trends that theorists can determine a natural progression of structure of feeling from one generation to the next. Williams’ himself applied this theory to Britain and concluded that while one generations culture is derived and inspired by the structure of feeling of the prior generation, the structure of feeling of a generation is always significantly different and comes primarily from society at the time.


A promotional image for an 1884 showing of Macbeth

Raymond William’s culture theory can be easily applied to the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, as well as to the Eiffel Tower. Macbeth originally lacked an association with ideal culture. During it’s first showings, the play was considered anything but high culture, being viewed primarily by the lower classes. However, as the play has aged, it has been recognized by experts in the field of theater as a timeless work of art. The distinction by experts as one of the best plays of all time gave it prestige, propelling the play into the ranks of high culture. With it’s rise into high culture, it became sought out by the wealthy and upper class. This combination garnered the piece high culture status.

Through the lens of documentary culture, Macbeth was originally only documented through the actual performance of the play and on the pages in which they were written. These pages held little significance at the time. Now however, basically any document produced by Shakespeare, including Macbeth, is cherished, and displayed in the Folger Shakespeare Library. Lastly, attending Macbeth was a originally a cherished experience for the lower class. Today however, attending a play no longer bears as much significance to either the


The Folger Shakespeare Library

upper or lower class, despite the level of prestige the play garners. Time has altered the structure of feeling for Macbeth.

At the time of its debut, the Eiffel Tower entirely lacked ideal culture; it was originally deemed architecturally uninspired and ugly. Now however, the Eiffel Tower is perceived as a beautiful structure on the Paris night sky, appreciated by architectural and art experts alike.

The documentation of the Eiffel Tower at first was completely negative. Almost all the documentation of the landmark was negative, calling for it to be torn down for scrap metal . Now however, the Eiffel Tower is adorning the front of postcards, magazines, and more. Experts agree that the Eiffel Tower was ahead of its time and is a beautiful, classic piece of art.

Finally, the social culture surrounding the Eiffel Tower was entirely negative (like the ideal and documentary culture). The people of Paris agreed that the landmark was Jacob3horrendous and a blemish to the beautiful skyline of their city. The Eiffel Tower has evolved to become a symbol of France, being widely accepted as beautiful and timeless by not only all of Paris, but by the whole world.

After analyzing more media by using Williams’ culture theory as done above, one will notice patterns and trends in the change in structure of feeling of these pieces of media. By connecting these trends and patterns, a theorist can script a conclusion about the change in structure of feeling of society itself across time.


Williams, R. (1961). The Long Revolution. Orchard Park: Broadview Press, pp. 57-70.

Image Attribution: Image 1 by Adrian Farewell under CC3; Image 2 by W.J. Morgan & Co. Lith under CC0; Image 3 Image under CC0 requiring no attribution

Written by Jacob Gonzalez, 2018



Culture Industries

In 1944, Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer published their article, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.” This article introduced the world to the theory of culture industries from the Frankfurt School. Adorno and Horkheimer developed this theory from living in Nazi Germany, where they witnessed people unthinkingly conform to whatever roles the government prescribed. They also saw how U.S. culture was thriving in Europe. Both theorists saw blind subjugation authority as a danger to the general population; hence, they constructed the idea culture industries. This theory is still important and relevant to today’s communications and media scholars; it can apply to many situations in the everyday world.

According to Adorno and Horkheimer the culture industries have two defining characteristics: homogeneity and predictability. These two characteristics create the mass production of mass culture. This commercial marketing of culture is structured around human nature (Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002). It creates standardization among the masses to fit people’s ‘need and desires’ as directed by elites. By advising individuals of their wants and desires, elite systems in charge of the culture industries erase individualities. They then no longer have genuine experiences People cannot freely decide what brings them pleasure; they are told indirectly what they need and it is reinforced continuously. This creates what Adorno and Horkheimer call ‘social cement’ (Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002). ‘Social cement’ is when a person loses curiosity and passively accepts what is happening; people become so comfortable that they no longer wish question the elite system (Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002). When we believe the system is providing a choice of being an individual, this is a false choice (Adorno & Horkheimer, 2002), which has led us to believe we are unique. But, in effect, we are still promoting homogeneity and predictability. According to Adorno, this is present in popular music.

In his article, “On Popular Music,” Adorno differentiates ‘serious’ and ‘popular’ music. Adorno (1941) considers serious music as ‘highbrow,’ meaning a more refined taste, and popular music as “lowbrow,” meaning it is for simpler tastes or no tastes at all. To distinguish between serious music and popular music, Adorno uses the category of standardization. Standardization is the process that creates regularity and repetition (Witkin, 2003, p. 98). This constructs homogeneity among the masses as every song has the same formula in its length, range, themes, dances, and etcetera. (Adorno, 1941). Each song has the same elements that appeal to what masses seem to ‘want’ and think they are getting a variation of; but in reality, they are hearing the same song repeatedly.


The Beatles land at JFK airport for their first U.S. visit in 1964.

This was prevalent during the British Invasion of 1964. Bands from England flew over to America gaining popularity quickly. These bands all had the same sound called the ‘Mersey Beat.’ This music was made by all-male groups. It had mixtures of early American Rock ‘n’ Roll from the 1950s with barely any influences from the Anglo-Celtic area (Schweitzer, 2018). The first band to “invade” was the Beatles. The band was made up of four members: John Lennon (lead guitar), Paul McCartney (rhythm guitar), George Harrison (bass), and Ringo Starr (drums). The band seemed ‘rebellious’ at the time as they were breaking the old mold of the music industry standards by not being professional musicians (Schweitzer, 2018). After seeing the Beatles perform so well with American audiences on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 7, 1964, many other ‘Mersey Beat’ groups followed in their footsteps (Schweitzer, 2018). The bands coming over to the United States included Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Hollies, and more. These bands did not copy the Beatles exactly, but developed very similar songs with lyrics and sound of the Fab Four (Schweitzer, 2018). Each band dressed the same and looked like the Beatles. They dressed in slick suits that matched the other band members in their groups and had the same haircuts. The music industry was using popular music, British Rock, to promote homogeneity and predictability among the mass fan culture that the British Invasion was creating in America.


The band, Gerry and the Pacemakers, also came to America in 1964 from England looking and sounding like the Beatles.

Popular music, according to Adorno has many differences within its ‘details’ from serious music. Chord sequences, melodic themes, harmonies, rhythmic motifs, the breaks, blue notes, dirty notes, and many other sounds create the form (Adorno, 1941). Choruses will have 32 bars and are limited to one octave and one note (Adorno, 1941). Even when a song has a different construction, it will return to the same standardized pattern that was created by the elite system. Nothing new is actually introduced that affects how the song turns out (Adorno, 1941).

Adorno further sees popular music as a distraction, a type of ‘social cement.’ After working long hours, people want to escape the frenzy and boredom of life, so they turn to activities that provide amusement and diversions. In the culture industry, “commercial entertainment induces relaxation precisely because it is patterned and pre-digested” (Witkin, 2003, p. 106). It provides entertainment so people no longer need to create their own leisurely activities.  This creates a demand for standardized goods like popular music. This activity is “[molded] by the same mechanical, rationalized, disciplines that characterize the world of work” (Witkin, 2003, p. 107). Adorno believes the culture industries has hijacked society’s ‘leisure’ time so people are always under the system created for them and never have individual freedom (Witkin, 2003, p. 107). This in turn makes people yearn for individual freedom. They then seek to have their needs satisfied through things like popular music, but this creates the opposite of what was intended. The more people are stimulated by popular music, the higher the demand for the cycle of commercial interests under the culture industry.

Adorno argues that ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultures result in people turning to popular culture for their ‘guilty pleasures.’ People use these ‘guilty pleasures’ as a way to relax and escape their busy lives. He believes everyone deserves pleasure, but not in the way the culture industry provides as “a faint copy of pleasure disguised as the real thing; repetition disguised as an escape; a brief respite from [labor] disguised as luxury” (Hulatt, 2018). By giving society ‘guilty pleasures,’ the culture industry takes away individual freedom, as there is no place for imagination because it fortifies certain thought patterns. Popular culture is “a kind of training; it engages us in, and reinforces, certain patterns of thought and self-understanding that harm our ability to live as truly free people” (Hulatt, 2018). The only solution, according to Adorno, is to destroy both ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture (Hulatt, 2018). But, this is nearly impossible because the culture industry prevents society from realizing what opportunities it can seize.


The set of The Voice is the same no matter what country it is in. The only thing that changes is the language used throughout.

A guilty pleasure of today is reality TV. It is considered ‘low’ culture, so people don’t normally share that they watch the show. Many television networks play reality tv in a variety of formats such as dating shows (The Bachelor/Bachelorette), competitions (The Voice), travel (Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous), and more. These shows are targeted at mass audiences to create homogeneity. Each show has a particular pattern of what it does, creating predictability. For example, The Voice, goes from auditions to a finale where one winner is selected by the audience every season and is signed to a record label to make an album.  The show has gained such a large audience many countries in the world have their own version of the show. It is mass produced around the world with the same results every time. People tune in every week and season to watch the show, even though it never changes. They never break their ‘social cement. Thus, the elite system continues to promote homogeneity and predictability.

Adorno and Horkheimer believe the world must be balanced to allow people to have a choice, something the culture industry does not provide. In this world of culture industry, people are exploited to promote homogeneity and predictability for profit and control. For Adorno, popular music was another product of the culture industry that suppressed spontaneity and creativity and constrained choice. This promotes the interests of the market over the individual and is toxic as it permits the suppression and manipulation of society.


Adorno, Theodore W., & Horkheimer, Max (2002). The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. In Gunzelin Schmid Noerr (Ed.), Dialectic of Enlightenment (p. 94-136) (Edmund Jephcott, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University.

Hulatt, Owen (2018). Against Popular Culture. Nigel Warburton (Ed.), Aeon . Retrieved from https://aeon.co/essays/against-guilty-pleasures-adorno-on-the-crimes-of-pop-culture

Schweitzer, K. (2018). The British Invasion (Class Lecture). Chestertown, MD: Washington College, MUS 106.

Witkin, Robert W. (2003). On popular music. In John Urry (Ed.), Adorno and Popular Culture (p. 98-115). New York, NY: Routledge. Retrieved from http://www.verlaine.pro.br/txt/witkin-adorno-pop-culture.pdf

Image Attributions: “The Beatles in America” by United Press International (cc: Public Domain); “Gerry and the Pacemakers group photo” by Paul Schumach, Metropolitan Photo Service, New York City (cc: Public Domain); “The Voice” by Alatele fr, Licensed under ShareAlike 2.0 (CC BY_SA 2.0). https://www.flickr.com/photos/130163120@N03/16485765766

Written by Jillian Horaneck, 2018

Digital Blackface

Digital blackface is a term that describes types of minstrel performances in which individuals embody blackness through GIFs and memes available, and enabled, through the anonymity of the internet.  Reaction GIFs and memes rely on excessive expressions of emotion which are associated with stereotypical displays of blackness.

MckaylaMinstrel performances date back to the early 19th century when performers would “blacken” themselves to play black caricatures, exaggerating behavior, facial features, and expressions as a form of entertainment (BBC News, 2017).  While minstrel performance is associated with a distant past, variations of minstrelsy continue to evolve on social media, television, and film.  Internet minstrelsy relies on the anonymity and deregulation of the internet to embody blackness without consequence, often taking the form of unauthentic profile photos and grammatically incorrect African American Vernacular English (AAVE) rather than physical alterations (Jackson, 2014).

As a variation of internet minstrelsy, digital blackface allows users to embody blackness without physical alterations or changes in identity.  This typically takes form through an excessive use of GIFs with images of black people as the performer (Jackson, 2017).  Reaction GIFs, specifically, are used in situations that may not necessarily require a verbal response, but rather an emotive one.  Some of the most well-known reaction GIFs include Donald Glover walking into a garbage fire, rapper Conceited pursing his lips anddownload giving a side-eye, and various others that rely on the physical reaction to situations through facial expressions and behavior.  While GIFs and memes are used for entertainment, it is significant that black images are overwhelmingly popular when searching for emotional and behavioral reactions.  Reminiscent of the minstrel performances of the 19th century, digital blackface perpetuates cultural stereotypes of excessiveness.

GIFs do not exist in a deracialized vacuum, but instead are cultural products built on the simultaneous marginalization and infatuation of blackness.  Digital blackface is a byproduct of the reality black people face in today’s society.  Many GIFs and memes emerge from moments of trauma and hardship of black experiences (Orr, 2016).  The “ain’t nobody got time for that” GIF which is now used by students stressing during finals week or someone who couldn’t be bothered by drama, was originally a news segment of woman whose apartment complex had caught fire (Jackson, 2014).  The resignification of black trauma as entertainment also takes shape through remixed soundbites.  The Netflix series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt remixes a witness interview into their theme song, making sure to include the voice inflictions and facial expressions of the black man being interviewed (Orr, 2016).

The viral sensation surrounding digital blackface is not merely a form of expressing excessive emotions, but also a sardonic satire on the lived experiences of black people.  Black images are clearly popular when searching for reaction GIFs as a way to display an excessive emotion, but that is not the only moment when their emotions are evaluated.  The current sociopolitical climate associates black people with excessive behaviors, regardless of a GIF reaction or reality.  The Black Lives Matter movement, brought to a head during a media storm on police brutality, situates the experiences of black people as more than a form of entertainment (Jackson, 2017).  Their own reactions can get them killed no matter how “excessive,” and yet they are used to for someone on the internet to complain about finals.


[BBC News]. (2017, August 15). Is it OK to use black emojis and gifs?-BBC News [Video File]. Retrieved on April 29, 2018 from http://youtube.com

Jackson, L. M. (2017, August 2). We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in GIFs. Retrieved on April 26, 2018 from http://teenvogue.com

Jackson, L. M. (2014, August 28). Memes and Misogynoir. Retrieved on April 28, 2018 from http://theawl.com

Orr, N. (2016, April 14). Black Trauma Remixed for Your Clicks. Retrieved on April 28, 2018 from http://buzzfeed.com

Image Attribution:  The image used in this post is in the Public Domain.

Written by McKayla Gamino, 2018.

Edward Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge is a well-known pioneer when discussing the development of film. Muybridge is credited as the first person to manipulate photographs in order to make the images appear to be in motion while simultaneously projecting them onto a screen (Fabos & Martin 215-250).  He completed this project by using multiple cameras to take consecutive photos of animals and humans in motion. His accomplishments is this field of study jumpstarted the evolution of film and his influence is still felt today. Although his projects seem very premature now, the works have been a foundation or building block for the future generations of filmographers.


Muybridge was birthed Edward James Muggeridge on April 9, 1830, to John and Susan Muggeridge of Kingston, England. At the age of 20, Muybridge moved from England to New York and then to San Francisco five years later where he established himself as a well know bookseller. Although he had a slight interest in photography, Muybridge did not devote his life to it until later (Muybridge 2016) At first, Muybridge focused on the scientific aspect of film study. He advanced the chemicals that are used to develop film. He made camera shutter speed faster and found ways to make photos elastic.

After running his book store in San Francisco for a period of time, Muybridge planned to travel the world. He even ran an advertisement saying that he was planning to sell his store and on May 15th, 1860, Muybridge embarked on his journey. While on the way, Muybridge’s stagecoach crashed in Northeast Texas (Phippen 2016). The vehicle went down a mountain and slammed into a tree completely destroying it. Muybridge, along with seven other passengers, were thrown for the stagecoach. One man died. Muybridge was severely injured. He hit his head so hard that he lost his senses of taste and smell. The first thing he remembered from the incident was waking up 150 miles away in Arkansas with a doctor telling him that he would never fully recover from his injuries. Muybridge spent six years recovering in England and nobody knows much about his time there. When he was recovered, he moved back to San Francisco in 1866. His life took a turn when he returned as he was now a masterful photographer. People raved over his landscapes. Eadweard was able to capture great landscapes with the help of his own invention, the “Sky Shade” (Phippen 2016). Muybridge shielded light from the sun which allowed for a more beautiful landscape but still had the sky’s majestic colors. He signed his photos under the Greek name, Helios.

In 1871, Muybridge married a younger woman by the name of Flora Shallcross Stone. A year later, Stanford contacted Muybridge and he began doing a project for them. The project involved his photography of horses and the motion of the creature. But in 1874, the project took a pause as Muybridge allegedly killed someone. After finding a note that his wife was trying to send to a well-known drama critic named Major Harry Larkyns, Muybridge freaked out. He began to believe that his child was not his and instead was little Harry’s (Phippen 2016).  Larkyns was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. Muybridge was actually released from the charges as Muybridge pleaded insanity as his lawyers argued that his accident caused him to have radical changes in behavior.

Muybridge’s big break came when Leland Stanford, a former governor of California, questioned if all four of a horse’s legs are airborne when they are running. “In 1877, at a track in San Francisco, Muybridge strung a thread across the dirt at horse-chest height. It led to a trigger attached to his camera. Stanford had funded Muybridge’s work for years, and this was their most meaningful trial yet, so when Stanford’s horse trotted down the track at 40 feet per second, Muybridge was ready with his camera” (Phippen 2016).  He was credited as being the first person to put photos into motion. Although a key figure in the development of film, Muybridge is somewhat forgotten as many have improved on his works but nonetheless, Eadweard paved the way for these future generations.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Movies and the impact of images. H. Chester (Ed.), Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (215-250). Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.

Muybridge, Eadweard. (2015, September 29). A biography of Eadweard Muybridge. N.A, December 07, 2017.

Phippen, J. W. (2016, July 24). The Man Who Captured Time. Retrieved December 04, 2017.

Image Attribution: “A Cat Running By” by Wellcome Images Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Written by Barry McCormick, 2017


Hannha 1The encoding/decoding model of communication is a system that describes how media messages are produced, circulated, and consumed by people in society. The model was developed by Stuart Hall, a cultural studies scholar and theorist, in 1973. Hall was an influential member of the Birmingham School and his creation of encoding and decoding has made a major impact on media studies. The main idea of encoding and decoding is that there is a break between the production of a message (encoding) and its reception by a person or a group (decoding). The model is represented by a circuit in which the producer or encoder frames (encodes) the meaning of the message in a certain way. Then, the readers or decoders, receive this message and understand (decode) it according to their culture, positionality (the specific conditions that help create and mold an individual’s position on any matter of topic, whether social, political, cultural, economic, etc.), and/or frame of perception.

Hannah 2

The circuit of encoding/decoding

The circuit begins with the construction of a message and a program is produced by “The institutional structures of broadcasting, with their practices and networks of production, their organized relations and technical infrastructures” (Hall, 1977/1980). The technical infrastructure, the relations of production, and the frameworks of knowledge taken to develop a “meaning structures 1,” is where the message is encoded into meaningful discourse. But, for the message to “have an ‘effect’(however defined), satisfy a ‘need’ or be put to a ‘use,’ it must first be appropriated as a meaningful discourse and be meaningfully decoded” (Hall, 1977/1980). The decoded meanings have an “effect,” bringing the circuit to meaning structures 2 (which is allowed to be different from meaning structures 1). A message is developed and, because of its decoding, become redefined in technical infrastructure, relations of production, and frameworks of knowledge. Then, the whole cycle begins again.

Hall’s concepts of encoding and decoding argue that a message’s meaning cannot be fixed by the sender. Essentially, the interpretation of an encoder’s message is ever-changing depending on the demographics of the decoder. Hall’s argument takes into account different people’s responses to situations and how these differences can affect the interpretation of a message. Hall established three positions when decoding a text— dominant, negotiated, and oppositional— that can be observed in the film Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986). Before one can analyze the scene, one should familiarize themselves with the definition of Hall’s three positions: A reader takes a dominant position when they fully share the text’s code and accept and reproduce the preferred reading or original intention of the message. A negotiated position is one where the reader partly shares the text’s code and broadly accepts the preferred reading. During this negotiation of meaning, readers also sometimes resist and change a message’s original intent in a way that reflects and is most suited to their positionality. An oppositional position is one where the reader’s positionality puts them in direct opposition to the dominant code. Although these readers are still able to understand the preferred reading, they reject it.

These positions can be applied to the volleyball scene in the film Top Gun (Tony Scott, 1986). A dominant interpretation would be if the reader understood the scene to be a competitive game of volleyball between Maverick and Iceman. A negotiated interpretation would be if the reader understood the scene to be a competitive volleyball game but did not understand how it fit into the movie’s frame. Finally, an oppositional interpretation involves viewing the scene as homoerotic, a perception that is popular among members of the gay community. For example, men flexing their oiled bodies and making noises, while Kenny Loggins’ “Playing with the Boys” (1986) plays in the background– suggests a sexualization of male bodies to the gay community based on their positionality as homosexual men.

First year Chinese college students are taught the English language by listening to American music. However, Christian Z. Goering and Huang Wei, the authors of the article “Playback and Feedback: Revelations of an ‘Encoding, Decoding’ Analysis of Popular Songs Used to Teach English in China, found that they did not know the songs that were listed in the curriculum. Their article examines the difference between American Pop and the American music from the curriculum and come to the conclusion that if more emblematic songs were used, the students would have a more beneficial experience in learning the English language: “the exposure to different types of songs (encoding), may create a different outcome (decoding) for language learners” (Goering & Wei, 2014). Their study concluded that “Of these randomly selected songs, none are seemingly a natural fit for language instruction in China, each a compromise of positive and not-so-positive attributes” (Goering & Wei, 2014), meaning that the songs mainly classified into a negotiated position based on Hall’s model.


Goering, C.Z., & Wei, H. (2014). Playback and Feedback: Revelations of an “Encoding, Decoding” Analysis of Popular Songs Used to Teach English in China. The Clearing          House, 87, 270-277.

Hall, S. (2007). Encoding, decoding. In S. During (Ed.), The Cultural Studies Reader (pp. 90- 103). London and New York: Routledge.

Kozma, A. (2018). Cultural Studies / The Birmingham School [PowerPoint slides].

Image Attribution: Image 1 Free Art License 1.3 and Image 2 CC0 Creative Commons.

Written by Hannah Sauer, 2018.

Episodic-Chapter TV Show

Episodic-Chapter Shows are stories that have a recurring set of characters who deal with conflict and resolution (Campbell 2017). It is the opposite of serial programs, which are shows that have a continuous storyline (Campbell 2017). Episodic-Chapter Shows can be watched and completely understood by viewers who have never seen a single episode of the show.  A wide variety of genres such as comedy, science fiction, detective shows, and drama fit the episodic-chapter format adequately (Campbell 2017).

In the 1930’s and 40’s, more and more televisions were being sold, and there were many questions about what type of television shows would take up air time (Thompson 2017).  Chapter shows were not introduced until the debut of television sitcom I Love Lucy (1951-1957) in 1951. This black and white sitcom follows Lucy Ricardo and her husband Ricky Ricardo in New York City. I Love Lucy followed the episodic-chapter structure instead of the typical variety show (Thompson 2017). The show was “the most watched on television for four of its six on the air” (Thompson 2017:1).


The Big Bang Theory cast

The popularity of this show revealed I Love Lucy established itself as the first episodic-chapter popular TV show and inspired other sitcom writers today to use this format. For example, Chuck Lorre’s The Big Bang Theory (2007-) follows the episodic-chapter style. The Big Bang Theory follows four socially awkward friends scientists living in California, and is a popular contemporary TV show today.

The growth of Netflix has helped episodic shows grow dramatically. Netflix allows people to watch “all episodes of a season at once” without worrying about having to watch a certain show at a specific time (Adalian 2017: 1). Many of the chapter shows on Netflix, such as Stranger Things are getting increasingly popular. Also in today’s world, new streaming technology helps ad-dependent programs by making it less stressful for them to produce huge ratings each week with services like Netflix and Hulu (Adalian 2017).


Adalian, J. (2017, August 03). The Return of the Episodic Anthology Series. Vulture.com.  Retrieved December 03, 2017, from http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/the-return-of-the-episodic-anthology-series.html.

Allen, S., & Thompson, R. J. (2017, October 18). Early Genres. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved December 03, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/art/television-in-the-United-States/Early-genres.

Campbell, R. (2017). Media and Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age. 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford Books/ St. Martin’s.

Image Attribution: The Big Bang Cast Photo By: BagoGames. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Written by Cole F. Storm, 2017



Episodic-Serial TV Show

Episodic-serial TV shows are a type of fictitious tv programming that are commonly seen aired on major networks such as NBC, ABC, FOX, and HBO. These programs can vary in subject matter covered. An episodic-serial shows’ focus of the plot is usually over a whole season, rather than individual episodes. Shows like Game of Thrones follows a main cast of characters across a permanent, dynamically changing world where their actions have a direct effect on the plot that comes ahead. Furthermore, missing an episode or two of Game of Thrones will have a stronger negative impact on the viewer than episodic-chapter shows because the viewer will be missing crucial pieces of information given in episodes past. Episodic-serial TV shows have their roots in radio broadcasting, with shows like The Shadow being one of the first episodic-serial shows to be broadcasted to the masses.

Episodic-serial shows found their start in radio broadcasting, with The Shadow being one of the first popular serial shows on air. The Shadow was one of the first major superhero characters created and built upon. The show itself was about the adventures the Shadow, a mysterious character who had, “the power to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him”. The show ran on radio from 1930 to 1935, becoming the early influence for many other famous superheroes we see in pop culture today (anon. 1998). Episodic-serial shows today on TV have become some of the most critically acclaimed TV programs currently on air. The Walking Dead has become AMC’s highest grossing tv show they offer by total number of viewers, with as many as 17 million people tuning in for the shows 5th and 7th season premiere (Otterson, 2017). Episodic-serial shows are also expensive to produce, even from episode to episode. HBO is expecting to spend 15 million dollars per episode during production of season 8 for Game of Thrones. Widely successful serial shows such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Have become the flagship programs for many networks, bringing in large numbers of viewers.

Episodic-serial shows have traditionally been shied away from in the past, due to the requirement that the viewer pays attention to the show, requiring the viewer to pay attention week in and week out, without missing an episode. Due to the ease of accessibility of shows today from services such as Netflix or HBO, episodic-serial shows are now increasing in demand. Viewers are now able to binge an entire season of a show, without having to wait a week between each episode, viewing entire seasons as quickly as one season per week (Dwyer, 2016).

With many episodic-serial shows, it is not uncommon to see them start out as episodic-chapter, and then naturally migrate to a more serialized show. The show Lost Was originally intended to be a very procedural, episodic-chapter show, but due to the huge early on success the show saw, producers were able to make the story between each episode the focal point rather than the afterthought. In the later seasons of Lost, the individual story of each member on the island stopped becoming the driving force of each episode’s plot, compared to the first several seasons, where the individual story told about each character each episode was the object that furthered the plot. Eventually the show evolved to the point where the rich, elaborate mythology of the island became the driving force of the plot, taking a whole season to tell the hero’s journey, rather than a single episode.


Anonymous (1998, July). The History Of The Shadow. Retrieved December 06, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20120321072356/http://www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/kes/350/history.html

Dwyer, E. (2016, June 08). Netflix & Binge: New Binge Scale Reveals TV Series We Devour and Those We Savor. Retrieved December 06, 2017, from https://media.netflix.com/en/press-releases/netflix-binge-new-binge-scale-reveals-tv-series-we-devour-and-those-we-savor-1

Otterson, J. (2017, October 27). ‘Walking Dead’ Season 8 Premiere Draws Lowest Opening Ratings Since Season 3 (Updated). Retrieved December 06, 2017, from http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/walking-dead-season-8-premiere-ratings-1202596402/

Ryan, M. (2009, February 27). Has TV lost its nerve when it comes to complex dramas? Retrieved December 03, 2017, from http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2009/02/has-tv-lost-its-nerve-when-it-comes-to-complex-dramas.html

Written by Cole Wilhite, 2017



Fairness Doctrine

The 1927 Radio Act stated that licensees did not own their own channels but could only license them as long as they operated to serve the “public interest, convenience, or necessity” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos 2017). The introduction of this act brought private, sensitive matters to the eyes and ears of listeners all over the world and allowed for a more informed public.

The Fairness Doctrine was established as a byproduct of the Radio Act of 1927. It re-defined and outlined the duties and responsibilities of all broadcasters. The doctrine mandated that a portion of airtime be used to provide coverage of public interest topics supported by differing viewpoints. (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017)

The Fairness Doctrine of 1949 required TV and radio stations holding Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued radio and television broadcast licenses to allocate a portion of air time to public topics that were often controversial. The doctrine was loosely based around ideas from the Radio Act of 1927 when congress decided the FCC should only license new shows that were mainly focused on public interest topics. The FCC took this rule and interpreted it more literally, mandating opposing sides of a topic be represented if presented on air.

The public sphere is an important aspect of society that benefited greatly from the fairness doctrine. It describes the public sphere as a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed. Information from newspapers, magazines, radio, and television are the media of the public sphere. The media feeds the population information under the idea that they have the right to all information of public interest (Habermas, J., Lennox, F., & Lennox, S. 1974). The fairness doctrine helped to facilitate the need for an informed citizenry.

This document matters because it brought controversial issues to the attention of more people. It operated under the belief that all information was the right of the viewers and listeners, no matter what the topic. It also operated under the idea that there had to be opposing sides represented for the story to run on television or radio. The public was supposed to be informed, and the FCC believed it was the right of broadcasters to provide suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral, and other ideas or experiences.


Best of Enemies: Buckley v. Vidal

Best of Enemies was a film released in 2015. It is set during the Republican and Democratic conventions of 1968. It features two candidates hired by ABC News who are put on live television to debate different topics for 10 nights. This was a monumental change in television. Never before had a network pitted two drastically opposing views against each other live. “They [the networks] were in the center. They were cementers of ideas not disruptors of ideas” (Best of Enemies, 4:15). The fairness doctrine allowed for this disruption to occur. It challenged viewers to think and support their thought processes rather than just follow the ideas of someone else.

The doctrine faced many criticisms during its years in effect. A lawsuit challenging the on first amendment grounds was brought to the Supreme Court in 1969. It was decided that the FCC had the right to regulate news content, but the problems did not stop there. It faced further scrutiny from radio and television broadcasters who said the doctrine was not fair because it did not encompass all forms of media broadcasters. The ruling only applied to television and radio, often times forcing controversial topics to be omitted from news stories. Mediums like newspapers and books were not subject to the same treatment and were allowed to run controversial topics even if both sides were not fairly represented. Ultimately the rule was reconsidered in the mid 80’s and was revoked.


Campbell, R., Martin, C.R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St.Martin’s

Habermas, J., Lennox, F., & Lennox, S. (1974). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article. In JStor(pp. 49-55). New German Critique. Retrieved December 2, 2017.

Producer & Director, Gordon, R., Neville, M.  (Director). (2015). Best of Enemies [Motion picture]. USA.

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Jackson Szurley, 2017



Feminist Media Studies

Despite the growth and expansion of the feminist movement throughout the twentieth century, Feminist Media Studies did not become a known paradigm until the late 1970s. Feminist Media Studies uses feminist ideals and principles in researching and analyzing media, focusing on stereotypes, socialization, and ideologies of gender.

emily 1Feminist media arguably began with the start of the twentieth century and the women’s suffrage movement. Early feminists such as Alice Paul and Lucy Stone published magazines, including the Suffragist and the Woman Citizen to spread and advocate for the women’s rights movement of the 1910s and 1920s. (Kitch, 200, p.76). Media, primarily in the form of these magazines, played a crucial part in the women’s suffrage movement, using rhetorical techniques to gather support.

Opposite feminist media, many media throughout the twentieth century, specifically the 1940s-50s, portrayed sexism and gender stereotypes that patronized women. Most advertisements from this time emphasized a woman’s role as a traditional house wife and used this concept in marketing items like soap, food, and beauty products. This gender stereotype was not constructed by media, but by society, which then impacted media.

Both feminist media and Feminist Media Studies have risen rapidly throughout the 2000s with a revival of the feminist movement aemily 2nd increased awareness of women in leadership roles coming to be reflected in media. Film, television, and books now portray women as badass warriors and confident intellectuals. Characters like Black Widow and Katniss Everdeen “…demonstrate how action heroines question notions of conventional gender roles…” (Inness, 2004, p.8).

Although attention is being brought to feminist media in recent years, the presence of women in media does not define the film or television show to be feminist. Additionally, female characters who do function as strong women often “…do not entirely escape traditional gender role expectations…the characters are predominantly white, upper or middle class, attractive, feminine, and heterosexually appealing.” (Inness, 2004, p.8). Additionally, men outnumber women not only onscreen, but off screen as well. (Van Zoonan,, 1994, p.17). Women account for less than 30% of producers, directors, editors and cinematographers. (Lauzen, 2017).

Today, only 57.5% of films pass the Bechdel test. Created by Alison Bechdel in 1985, the test requires that a movie has at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than men. (2017). Despite the surge in popularity of Feminist Media Studies and feminist media, this percentage has decreased over the past five years.

Feminist Media Studies is a new and growing paradigm, now “carried all over the world, using primarily quantitative content analysis and social experimental methods” (Van Zoonan, 1994, p.17), allowing for the spread and expansion of the feminist movement.


Bechdeltest.com. (2017). Bechdel Test Movie List [Data File]. Retrieved from: https://bechdeltest.com

Inness, Sherrie A. (Eds.). (2004). Action Chicks. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kitch, Carolyn. (2001). The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Lauzen, Martha. (2017). Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in Television. Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, San Diego State University. Retrieved from: http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2016-17_Boxed_In_Report.pdf

Steiner, Linda. (2014). Feminist Media Theory. The Handbook of Media and Mass Communication Theory, First Edition, 360-375. Retrieved from: https://washcoll.instructure.com/courses/2168091/files/folder/Readings?preview=110719381

Van Zoonan, Liesbet. (1994). Feminist Media Studies. London, UK: SAGE Publications.

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the Public Domain

Written by Emily Alcaraz, 2017

Film Exhibition

Film exhibition, or the act of showing a film, has changed drastically over time in the United States. It began after the fall of the Edison trust and the Motion Picture Patents Company. With these institutions out of the way, theater were then allowed to expand on

cordelia 1

 Projection room from a theater in Alabama, 1933

their own. This expansion began with the 1910’s with movie theaters known as “nickelodeons”, named after the charge to get in, a nickel (Campell et al., 2017)(Thomas, 1961). These theaters, such as the little theater opened by Henry Davis and John P. Harris in 1905, originally showed short films like The Great Train Robbery (Allen, 1979).

These theaters would evolve over time to become movie palaces in the 1920s. Movie palaces were large, elaborately decorated movie theaters, and they lasted for about thirty years, only to change again into the ever-popular drive in theaters in the 1950s.

Drive in theaters, on their most simple level, were outdoor theaters that allowed moviegoers to literally drive up to the screen to watch the movie that was being exhibited. This new structure of theater allowed people who could not attend previous movie theaters to watch film. Those who could not previously attend included those with physical disabilities or who lacked the social class to attend theaters (Taylor, 1948). This popular theater format would last for approximately twenty years, cordelia 2and eventually change again into grindhouses in the 1970s. These new theaters focused mainly on exhibiting exploitation films, and would not last very long. Today, we mostly have mall theaters (began around 1980s) and megaplexes (1990s to mid 2000’s). AMC is one of the largest megaplex chains in the united states (Lieberman, 2016).


Allen, R. (1979). Motion Picture Exhibition in Manhattan 1906-1912: Beyond the Nickelodeon. Cinema Journal, 18(2), 2-15. doi:10.2307/1225438

Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a  Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Lieberman, D. (2016, August 31). AMC Theaters Plans Switch To Reserved Seating At All Manhattan Venues. Retrieved from http://deadline.com/2016/08/amc-theaters-plans-switch-reserved-seating-all-manhattan-venues-1201811690/

Taylor S. H., “The Drive-In Theater,” in Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 337-343, April 1948.doi: 10.5594/J11779

Thomas, J. (1971). The Decay of the Motion Picture Patents Company. Cinema Journal, 10(2), 34-40. doi:10.2307/1225236

Image attribution: Image 1 public domain, Image 2 CC BY-SA 4.0; The Great Train Robbery public domain

Written by Cordelia Faass, 2018


Fourth Screens

sam 1In contemporary media, screen technology is proving itself to be an enduring and critical piece of communications and media studies. The fourth screen has been recognized as a more accessible compilation of each of the earlier screening technologies. Therefore, to fully explain fourth screens, we must begin by identifying first, second, and third screens.

The very first screen technology that humans were exposed to, sometimes called “The Silver Screen”, was accessible in movie theaters. The moving picture was a revolutionary phenomena that provided teens and adults with a new recreational activity. Moving into individual homes, the television transformed the concept of media. Televisions transported “The Silver Screen” to living rooms across America. The TV made it possible for companies to market their brand outside of their storefront; opening a whole new market of at-home advertising and simultaneously redefining the term ‘mass media’. Next, computers gave us access to the Internet, making an entire new world of information available to the average person (Castillo-Pomeda, 2016, p.1). The sort of anonymous connectedness that the internet allows users is uniquely interesting, catalyzing globalization to an ultimate realm.

sam 2Today, fourth screen technologies, such as mobile phones, tablets, iPads, Kindles, Smartphones, and mobile gaming devices have added another dimension to all of this. These mobile devices combine first, second, and third screens into one, unexpectedly smaller device. Fourth screens are distinguishable from earlier screen devices because of both their mobility and their accessibility. Smartphones and tablets are normally very thin and lightweight – something that is very easy to carry with you everywhere. Additionally, these devices provide every screening service in one – movie and television streaming, internet access, mobile applications, video and photography production (Castillo-Pomeda, 2016, p. 1-5). This added connectivity forms a new social culture, coined by Stephen Groening as, “connected isolation” (2008, p.1).

This transformation, Groening believes, from “the spread of film culture from the nickelodeon, to the fairground attraction and road show, to the movie palace, into the home and now in the palm of our hands indicates a changing relationship between individual and community” (Groening 2008, p. 2). He is identifying the way in which these fourth screen mobile technologies enable us to have access to every resource we need without having many social interactions. Having this surplus of resources at our fingertips allows us to multitask, performing two or three tasks at once.  This split attention only further disconnects us from the world beyond our screens. Castillo-Pomeda also highlights this change of atmosphere when he says, “…we have been assimilating  this change that affects both our private life and our professional work.

Changes in consumer habits are being produced, that cause a revolution in the ways and in the actual narrative of audiovisual content in which the user can participate. Consumption and creation of information through the Smartphone and creativity at the service of new forms of mobile advertising…” (2016, p. 2). This, is the key to fourth screens: interaction. Coupled with the mobility and accessibility that fourth screens provide, it also presents the user with an interactive, personal experience, giving consumers no reason to go without their fourth screen.


Castillo-Pomeda, J. M. (2016). CONNECTED. THE FOURTH SCREEN AS EPICENTER OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS. Revista De Comunicación De La SEECI, (40), 1-17.

Groening, Stephen. (2008). Connected Isolation: Screens, Mobility, and Globalized Media Culture. Retrieved from University of Minnesota, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. (3338944)

Image Attribution: “iPad Tablet Tech Photograph” by FancyCrave1 licensed under CC BY 2.0; “3D World Smartphone Image” by FunkyFocus licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Written by Samantha Huffmaster, 2017

Frankfurt School

The Frankfurt School is unique in comparison to other communication and media studies schools in that it is the result of a culmination of many different subject materials and areas of study. Ultimately, the Frankfurt School approach is the combination of such subjects as social and critical theory, philosophy, economics, psychoanalysis, and Marxism (McLaughlin 1999). At its most basic level, the Frankfurt School strives to stimulate social change, and uses critical theory as its means of doing so.

This school of thought was first born at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research in theEmily 1 late 1920s and early 30s. It was at this time that Max Horkheimer was the director of the institute and set the groundwork for this school of thought. Many philosophers, economists, and psychoanalysts worked in collaboration on this school and its values, including Theodor W. Adorno, Friedrich Pollock, and Walter Benjamin. These gentleman were largely inspired by theories of Karl Marx (pictured right), and relied heavily on his piece of writing Critique of Political Economy in outlining their values (Wellmer 2014).

Along with the Frankfurt School of thought, the practice of critical theory was born, and is quite possibly the largest contribution of this particular school. Critical theory examined the state of society, especially the relationship between members of the proletariat and bourgeoisie, and identified the ways in which members of lower classes were exploited. What separates critical theory from other schools and methods of analysis is that its ultimate goal is the liberation of humans and the construction of a new and better society in which all people have equal and fair opportunities for developing themselves. Emily 2In addition, this school of thought recognizes and promotes the idea that in order to obtain such a society there is a necessity for struggle and trials which must be overcome. The main journal of this institute is titled Studies in Philosophy and Social Science (Wellmer 2014).

With the emergence of World War II, however, the work of this school was briefly put on halt. In 1933 Nazis forcefully closed down the institute. In order to keep things running, Horkheimer hid the funds from the Nazis and reestablished the Frankfurt school in New York City (Wellmer 2004). This move to America allowed the Frankfurt school to spread its ideals and bring its German intellectual traditions across the ocean to other parts of the world (McLaughlin 1999). At the conclusion of World War II Horkheimer then moved the school back home to Frankfurt.

Horkheimer was a largely influential member of the Frankfurt School. He hoped that his studies and the development of critical theory would lead to the organization of a society which would move beyond the contradictions and divides caused by capitalist structures of private property. It was his belief that the production of commodity had become a challenging obstacle in the journey of human progress (Wellmer 2014).

One of the most influential scholars of the Frankfurt School was Walter Benjamin. In his essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” he discusses how works of art can be a significant tool in overcoming the looming threat of capitalism. He first critiques capitalism, saying that it mainly exploits the proletariat and members of the lower class. Benjamin then goes on to describe how reproductions of art can be used to overcome this. By reproducing works of art, that art then becomes more available to the general public, thus, eliminating the elitism which it once had and removing its reservation as something available only to those of the upper-class. This, he believed, was one possible method through which we could begin to modify society and make it a place for people of all social standings (Benjamin 1969).


Benjamin, W. (1969). The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Schocken Books, 217-251.

McLaughlin, N. (1999). Origin Myths in the Social Sciences: Fromm, the Frankfurt School and the Emergence of Critical Theory. The Canadian Journal of Sociology, 24(1), 109-139.

Wellmer, A. (2014). On Critical Theory. Social Research, 81(3), 705-733. Doi: 10.1353/sor.2014.0045

Image attribution: Both images used in this post are within the public domain

Written by Emily Kreider, 2018


The GamerGate controversy was a misogynistic firestorm concerning sexism in gaming culture that began in 2014 (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Fabos 2017) when computer programmer Eron Gjoni claimed that his ex-girlfriend, game designer Zoe Quinn, cheated on him with a writer at Kotaku, a well-known gamers’ website (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Fabos 2017).

Hundreds of male gamers began attacking Quinn with anonymous threats (Lotte 2016). This became a global act of misogyny and high-profile women in the gaming industry across the world were all facing online threats and attacks, especially over Twitter (Lotte 2016).

When Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist cultural critic and one of the targeted women, spoke out against the deeper gender problem in gaming culture (Barr 2016), she found herself the victim of doxing, meaning that her personal and private information was made public (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Fabos 2017).

Other high-profile women included game developer Brianna Wu and journalists Katherine Cross and Maddy Myers (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Fabos 2017). They also found themselves victims of swatting, which is where someone calls in an anonymous tip to the police so that the place where the victim lives can be raided by a SWAT team (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Fabos 2017).

Many of the victims had to leave their homes after their addresses were leaked online because they received threats where they lived (Lotte 2016). The GamerGate campaign was coordinated in the online forums of Reddit, 4chan, and 8chan in an anonymous movement that ultimately came to be represented by the Twitter hashtag #gamergate (Moore, 2014). The harassment included threats of rape, death threats and the threat of a mass shooting at a university speaking event (Lotte 2016). During this time, the mainstream gaming news media was ignoring the misogyny of GamerGate (Barr 2016).

This blatant disregard for the misogynistic attacks can perhaps be attributed to how the presence of women in the digital media landscape is viewed as threatening to the idea of a masculine gamer (Lotte 2016). When it comes to redefining the gamer identity (Barr 2016), too many people conflate this identity with the outdated notion that white, heterosexual teenage boys are the only gamers allowed (Barr 2016). The current gaming culture climate is still deeply affected by the gender problem that helped cause the global controversy that is GamerGate, but women all over the world are coming together against misogynistic attackers to ensure change in the digital gaming industry (Campbell 2017, Martin 2017, Fabos 2017).


The picture on the above (Moore, 2014) tracks the use of the GamerGate hashtag on twitter on November 26, 2014 alone. Clearly, the hashtag was used by people all over the world, and this picture can be used to analyze how the different social media platforms, mainly Twitter, used a hashtag to spread their misogynistic vitriol. The picture that follows (Murphy, 2015) is a photo of Brianna Wu, a video game developer who faced GamerGate threats. Here she is leading a presentation detailing the issues within the gaming industry and the impact of GamerGate.




Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Lotte Vermeulen, Mariek Vanden Abeele, & Sofie Van Bauwel. (2016). A Gendered Identity Debate in Digital Game Culture. Press Start, Vol 3, Iss 1, Pp 1-16 (2016), (1), 1.

Matthew Barr, Landon Kyle Berry, Mahli-Ann Butt, Daniel Joseph Dunne, Charlie Ecenbarger, Sarah Beth Evans, … Lars de Wildt. (2016). Editorial: Negotiating Gamer Identities. Press Start, Vol 3, Iss 1 (2016), (1).

Moore, Chris. (2014, December 1). Twitter hashtag #gamergate 26/11/2014.

Murphy, William. (2015, June 19). Brianna Wu [Video Game Developer] REF-105734.


Image attribution

The images used in this post are for education purposes.



Written by MB Spargo, 2018.

Gender Trouble

The lines between the perceived genders of male and female get blurred every day. This is how gender trouble is created. Judith Butler’s idea of gender trouble is that gender is not natural. Instead, gender is performative and when it is performed out of bounds this creates gender trouble (Butler, 1990). Media is a place where the bounds of gender can be blurred and provide alternative means to the construction of gender.

The term gender trouble was coined in 1990 by Judith Butler’s book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Butler is a philosopher primarily concerned with the constructions of gender (Butler, 1990). Although the concept of gender trouble did not have a name until 1990, its existence started long before. There is plenty of evidence of men and women performing outside of gender bounds. Much like the cross-dressing actors in the Shakespearian era, gender has always been performative. In one essay regarding gender trouble in early modern England, it says “Whether in real life or in literature… cross-dressing involved struggle, resistance, and subversion, as well as modification, recuperation and containment of the system of gendered patriarchal domination” (Cressy, 1996, p. 438). This shows how the lines of gender were being blurred long before Butler coined a term for it. The struggle relates to the trouble that performing gender outside of the bounds. Trouble in this case is not a negative and can be used to foster diversity.

In a more modern sense, gender trouble can be thought of through the work of Betty Friedan. Friedan wrote in the 1960’s about how women had a need to break their gender roles. During this time, women were expected to stay a home and care for the children, their husband and the house. This left many women deeply unfilled but unsure as to the


1960’s Housewife

reason why they felt like this. Friedan called it “the problem that has no name” (Friedan, 1963, p.34).  This idea illustrates how women were unhappy with the gender expectations placed upon them. They were performing gender as they were expected to in the form of subservient housewives. The solution here was to reject this role and specific performance of what it means to be a woman. These women of the 1960’s could then enact gender trouble if they left the house and got jobs. This was rejecting the expected performance of gender and enacting a blend of feminine and masculine gender roles.

Around the time that the term gender trouble was developed, feminist theories included postfeminism and third-wave feminism. Postfeminists support the idea that gender equality has been reached (Laughey, 2007). If this was the case, gender trouble would not exist because no ‘trouble’ would be created by performing out of bounds. Third-wave feminists are concerned with intersectionality which helps include minority women who were being left out of the feminist narrative (Laughey, 2007). Like intersectionality, Butler is concerned with the multifactorial connections that make up a person. For gender trouble, Butler is most interested in the multifactorial connections that make up gender identity instead of total identity.

There are two main tenants to Butler’s theory of gender trouble. The first is that gender is not natural and the second is that gender is performative. Where the ‘trouble’ comes in is when someone is performing outside the expectations of one’s gender. Butler theorizes that the biological differences would mean nothing without the social constructions of what it means to be male versus female (Butler, 1990). Society places expectations of femininity and masculinity. If someone’s gender presentation does not meet the expectations that go with their assigned biological sex, then they are performing outside the bounds of gender expectation. Everyone is performing gender but some are troubled. By continuing to act out gender, this is how gender has meaning, not because of any biological difference. Some examples of people whose gender performances trouble gender are transgender individuals (Laughey, 2007).


Jazz Jennings at a Pride parade

A case of a transgender individual is Jazz Jennings who is a young trans activist and TLC reality television star. In her show I am Jazz, she addresses her everyday issues of being transgender and growing up. Jazz openly talks about the bullying she experiences as a trans individual. The show is a platform for her gender performance and depicts her as an average teenage girl (“I am Jazz,” n.d.). This helps fight against heteronormativity. Transgender individuals like Jennings illustrate how gender is subjective and can be performed in a multitude of ways. The fact that Jennings is biologically male would mean nothing without gender constructions. It is up to the individual to perform gender in their own way.

In looking how gender has been performed in the past and what theories surrounding feminism were present during this time, it is important to understand not only how gender is constructed but how it is represented in the media. The types of people enacting gender trouble are not often represented in media. There is currently gender trouble present in media sources such as television shows like as I am Jazz. Without the theory of gender trouble there would not be examples of people breaking gender expectations in television. One example of this is in a Disney television series called Star vs. the Forces of Evil.

In an episode of Star vs. the Forces of Evil male character Marco dresses up like a princess. The disguise is to go under cover in a princess school. The show takes a surprising turn by not making fun of him for acting feminine. The other characters also do not conclude that he can’t be a princess because he is a boy when his gender is revealed. The other princesses decided that anyone can be a princess if they choose to be regardless of gender. This demonstrates how a main stream media platform like Disney can show the interruption of gender expectations. Marco performs femininity in the episode but goes back to his more masculine self at the end of the episode. Other characters accept either version of Marco (Piluso, 2015). This change in performance of gender supports Butler’s theory that gender is not natural. The only reason there are such distinctions are because we choose to enact them. This example illustrates that gender is not fixed and what can happen when performing out of bounds.

An evolution of Butler’s gender trouble can be seen in today’s drag. Without the concept of gender trouble there would be no drag. Drag queens embody gender trouble. They put


RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, and winner, Bianca Del Rio

on a different persona and appearance to perform a feminine gender that is different from their assigned gender of male. These drag queens are celebrated through media such as RuPaul’s Drag Race which is a drag queen competition that has been airing on television since 2009 (Wortham, 2018). These queens show gender fluidity by performing as women on the stage and men off the stage. Both personas are still a part of who they are and differ from an actor playing a part.

One essay looking at drag queens investigated how drag performances can serve social change. The researchers for this essay conversed with audience member after they went to a drag show in Key West, Florida. One drag queen was asked about one of the performances, saying that “leaving on the wig and makeup confounds people. It baffles them and it does make them think” (Taylor & Rupp, 2005, p. 2129). This illustrates how drag can make people question gender roles by creating a staged performance of a certain gender. Drag queens enact the stereotypes of female gender by having dramatic makeup, big hair and fanciful costumes. However, they blur these lines by being men enacting this performance and having both more masculine out of drag persona and in drag persona as part of their identity.

Butler’s theory of gender trouble can give a name to the struggling concept of how gender is constructed and how it can be performed. It is an ever-present theme going back to Shakespearian era (Cressy, 1996). Butler’s theory that gender is only naturalized because of social constructions aligns with how the lines of gender are blurred in various accounts of media (Butler, 1990). Further representation in media for non-conforming gender performance would create greater diversity. These representations could give voice to those who are not shown in the main stream media and are looking for someone like them in the media that they consume.


Butler, J (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York, NY: Routledge

Cressy, D. (1996). Gender Trouble and Cross-Dressing in Early Modern England. Journal of British Studies, 35(4), 438-465. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/176000

Laughey, D. (2007). Feminisms and gender. In Key themes in media theory (pp. 100-121). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Piluso, P. (Writer), & Piluso, P. (Director). (2015). St. Olga’s reform school for wayward princesses [Television series episode]. In A. Hammersley (Producer), Star vs. the forces of evil. United States: Disney Television Animation

Taylor, V., & Rupp, L. (2005). When the Girls Are Men: Negotiating Gender and Sexual Dynamics in a Study of Drag Queens. Signs,30(4), 2115-2139. doi:10.1086/428421

TLC. (n.d.). I am jazz. Retrieved from https://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/i-am-jazz/about

Wortham, J. (2018, January 26). Is rupaul’s drag race the most radical show on tv. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/24/magazine/is-rupauls-drag-race-the-most-radical-show-on-tv.html

Image Attribution: “1960’s Housewife” by Pixabay in the Public Domain; “Jazz Jennings at Pride Parade” by Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0; “Bianca Del Rio” by Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Written by Casey Wolhar, 2018

Golden Age of Hollywood

The Golden Age of Hollywood began roughly in 1915 in Hollywood California, and lasted until its eventual decline during the post-World War II era. During this time Hollywood and the films, it produced underwent a drastic evolution which resulted in the development of a “Hollywood style”, technological innovation, fame for actors and actresses, and film becoming the single mass medium of the period. The success and prosperity of the film industry during the Golden Age of Hollywood is unrivaled throughout time.

Veronica 1The Golden Age of Hollywood emerged in part out of the studio system that developed during the early 20th century.  Hollywood’s studio system allowed for film to become a major industry and the dominant mass medium of its time. Hollywood’s studio system established the vertical integration of the film making process and turned the film industry into an oligopoly.  Subsequently, the film industry became dominated by a small number of studios known as the Big Five.  These studios included Paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox and RKO.   Three other studios known as the Little Three were able to maintain relevance but did not maintain a vertical integration model of operation. These studios were Columbia, Universal and United Artists (Campbell).

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a time in which more movies were produced each year than at any other time in history.  However, this era is most importantly known for being the time in which Hollywood developed its own style that eventually became a standard for cinema globally. The three components to the Hollywood style involve the narrative, which includes the story and how the story is told.  The genre, which is a category that the narrative would fit into.  Some of the popular genres of the time included comedy, adventure, action, thriller/ horror and musical.  And finally, the authors, or the directors whom are credited to be the primary authors of the film.  This style of film making emerged during the Golden Age of Hollywood and ultimately served as a model for cinema globally (Campbell).

Part of one of the distinguishing factors of the Golden Age of Hollywood is the technological advances that occurred during this time.  Film became popular among American audiences during the early 20th century during the silent film era.  However, as audiences grew, so did interest in creating new technologies to improve the quality of motion picture.  One of the most progressive technological advancements to film was synchronized sound (Salem).  Warner Brothers Studios led the way for this technological advancement with their break through film The Singing Fool (1928) which established synchronized sound as the next best innovation for film.  The synchronization of sound to moving pictures increased movie audiences dramatically (Campbell).

Other technological advancements during the time that contributed to the success of films during the Golden Age of Hollywood were special effects and color.  Special effects in the first half of the 20th century was mostly rare and crude.  However, when a movie did possess quality special effects, it was received greatly be audiences.  The film King Kong (1933), was a film revered for its special effect during the time.  Color also was a major innovation of its time.  The Technicolor Corporation began working and developing color photography and projection by 1915 but did not improve and perfect it until the late 1930s with the release of Gone with the Wind (1939).

The film industry ironically flourished during one of America’s most troubling periods, The Great Depression. Despite the economic turmoil of the nation, both upper and lower-class Americans flocked to movie theaters to watch feature films, while industry was releasing record high quantities of films.  This in part has to do with the fact that during this time, film was the most affordable form of entertainment for Americans, which allowed it to become an unrivaled mass medium.  People began to use films as a way to escape their unfortunate realities in life and watch movies that portrayed happiness and American values (Salem).

Veronica 2Actors and actresses became influential figures during the Golden Age of Hollywood.  For example, Mary Pickford was an actress that acted in numerous films and eventually earned herself the reputation of “Americas Sweetheart” (Campbell) and people began to invest their own interest in in her personal life and waited on lines to see her films.  Her influence and fame grew so extensively that she even earned higher wages for acting in films. Other influential actors and actresses of this time included Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, Greta Gable Chico Marx and Harpo Marx (Salem).  These people began to acquire fame at both national and international levels.


Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Movies and the Impact of Images. In R. Campbell (Author), Media and Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (11th ed., pp. 221-234). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, Macmillan Learning.

“Hollywood Enters Its Golden Age.” Great Events from History: The Twentieth Century (Online Edition). Salem Press. 2013.

Image Attributions: “Montage of Golden Age” Henry B. Goodwin et. al Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0); “RKO” by Insomia Cured Here Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Written by Veronica Washington, 2018

Golden Age of Radio

The Golden Age of Radio is a term that refers to a specific time period in which radio started to become and was an extremely popular mass medium. In the 1920s, weather forecasts, farm reports, and regular radio news analysis began (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). The rise of serial situation comedies and the for-profit model of radio were also key components of the time (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). Not only did radio serve as a source of information and means of communication, but it served as a form of entertainment and a means to profit. Most Americans had access to a radio and would regularly tune in to hear different programs with their families. Americans, in rural areas that had no electricity, listened to battery powered radio sets or listened with neighbors who had power; during this time, radio was crucial to American culture (Stricklin, 2009). Radio heavily influenced social, economic, and political changes and decisions during this era. The Golden Age of Radio was an important period full of revolutionary growth. This is especially true with regards to communication and media studies. The rise of television and the transition of many shows from radio to T.V. contributed to the end of the Golden Age of Radio.

LisaThere was a growing dependency on and popularity of radio during the Golden Age of Radio as it became a mainstream mass medium. Radios were made accessible to a large number of people from various different socio-economic backgrounds.

The Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934, were passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and led to many changes for radio networks and led to reform for the radio industry overall (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). Radio is one of the only mediums licensed and controlled by the federal government. This was done in an effort to serve the public interest (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). The regulations set in place by the FCC helped set radio up for its golden age.

During the Golden Age of Radio, a wide range of shows aired such as variety shows, situational comedies, fireside chats, dramatic programs, and studio-audience quiz shows on different stations/networks (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). The popularity of these serial shows was a characteristic of this Golden Age of Radio. These shows reflected many of the ideas and beliefs in America at the time. The influence serial radio shows had on society, politics, and the economy was profound. This was because so many people had access to radios at the time. One broadcast that got people to think about the negative and positive effects of radio, was H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). While the effects of this broadcast were grossly exaggerated, it led to strict regulations of broadcasts regarding the warnings provided about a show’s content (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos,2017). These regulations, however, would not decrease the overall popularity of radio shows.

The radio show Lum and Abner was a fictional series aired from 1931 until 1954 (Stricklin, 2009). Lum’s and Abner’s characters were hillbillies; with short scripts and thin plots, the comedy series offered convenient entertainment for many listeners in the South (Stricklin, 2009). This show was released during the Golden Age of Radio which was crucial to its success. Considering the show’s representation of Lum and Abner as Americans, who focus on “good natured fun rather than ridicule,” the series was an escape for many listeners (Stricklin, 2009). Americans were looking to listen to shows at the time and it was much easier for series, like Lum and Abner, to gain followers during the Golden Age of Radio. The show was very successful for a long time, however, it failed to evolve from radio to television which eventually led to its decline. Despite this, the show had a lasting effect on its audience and influenced movies and rural comedies on television for years after its last show aired (Stricklin, 2009).


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Stricklin, D. (2009). Lum and Abner: Rural America and the Golden Age of Radio by Randal L. Hall. Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 112(3), 311-312. doi:10.1353/swh.2009.0112

Image Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1981-076-29A / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Written by Lisa Hamilton, 2017

Harold Laswell

Josh 1Harold Dwight Lasswell Was born on February 13, 1902 and died December 18, 1978. Over the course of his life “he authored more than 30 books and 250 scholarly articles” (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica) and made major contributions to disciplines such as Political Science, Legal Education, and Communications.

Following his undergraduate studies in philosophy and economics in 1922 and his Ph.D. in 1926 – both from the University of Chicago – Lasswell to time to study in the summers at the Universities of London, Geneva, Paris, and Berlin (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica). In his early career he taught Political Science at the University of Chicago until 1938 and briefly served at the Washington School of Psychiatry before taking up the post as director of war communications research at the U.S. Library of Congress in the build-up and through the participation in World War II. After the ware he went to Yale University and served in various capacities there until the 1970s. During his life he was a visiting lecturer at campuses around the world and was a consultant to U.S. government agencies when needed (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica).

Over the course of Lasswell’s career he crossed different disciplines to answer his questions about the way the world works, and specifically in communications much of his work was shaped by the events of his time. World War II caused His focus within the field was on the effects of media and cognition, within which he specifically focused on the effects of propaganda as a media technique. This involved a focus on the intersection of social/political variables in the construction of power.

His most famous work was produced during his time at the University of Chicago, was entitled Propaganda Technique in the World War (1927). This, “dispassionate description and analysis of the massive propaganda campaigns conducted by all the major belligerents in World War I (Smith).” So, how does it work? Lasswell breaks propaganda specifically down into four different modes of persuasion. Deception, manipulation, fear, and emotional persuasion. He also identified that with the rise in prevalence of mass media, that war was now fought on three fronts, military, economic, and propaganda. Essentially, who could better rally their populations around a flag?

In concert with his study of propaganda, Lasswell developed his own model of communication (also known as action model, linear mode, or the one-way model of communication) which is regarded as one of the most influential communication models to date (Bajracharya, 2018) and survives him as his largest single contribution to the field of communications. This model answers the seemingly elementary question of “Who says what to whom with what effect (Gordon)?” His other works were also widely influential as topics such as propaganda had little been studied before his time and most definitely never on the scale of being able to look at both sides of a major conflict so clearly. Throughout his life Lasswell contributed many groundbreaking models and theories to a spectrum of academic disciplines, and while most of these models are now foundational or simply out-of-date Lasswell is still respected as one of the most creative and influential scholars of his time.


Bajracharya, S. (2018, February 15). Lasswell’s Communication Model. Retrieved from https://www.businesstopia.net/communication/lasswell-communication-model

Britannica, T. E. (2016, September 28). Harold Lasswell. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Harold-Lasswell

Gordon, G. N. (2016, August 17). Communication. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/communication#ref383997

Image Attribution: Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library Produced for reference use only. (mssa.img.010635)

Written by Josh Peterson, 2018


Isaiah 1During the second wave in the 1970s, feminists closed in on what could possibly be the source of women’s oppression (Ingraham, 2017). Chrys Ingraham elaborated on the theory feminists proposed during this time to what is the central fountainhead of women’s oppression :heteronormativity. Ingraham summarizes what most feminists during this time period understood heteronormativity. She states, “They maintain that heterosexuality is really a normalized power arrangement that limits options and privileges men over women and reinforces and naturalizes male dominance” (Ingraham, 2017). Meaning, heteronormativity is a force that reinforces stereotypes about women essentially aiding the fallacy superiority of men over women in all social aspects of life. Heteronormativity forces society to believe that heterosexual behavior is  ‘right’ or ‘normal’ behavior and anything other should not be accepted.

Due to the various social structures such as religion, historically, has inflicted fear into Isaiah 2the lives of those who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Many notions of being non-heterosexual as deviant had been moving throughout our social systems for generations. Globally, many ritual practices were passed down from our collective ancestors and are still practiced today. Weddings are ritual practices viewed as a contributor to the furthering  oppression amongst both women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The roles used in weddings comes with gender specific aspects that hold people to specific standards if they wish to practice the ritual. For example, the husband must be a man and the wife must be a woman, and both parties have to follow cis-gendered norms. These norms include wearing a suite for the man and wearing a bridal dress for the woman. One article by the name of “Remaking the White Wedding? Same-Sex Wedding Photographs’ Challenge to Symbolic Heteronormativity” talks about how a photographer uses their photographs to juxtapose the dress wear of a non-heteronormative wedding versus a traditional wedding with participants following cis-gender roles (Katrina, 2012). These expectation often in-closes people into a box in which not all people may feel they belong. The very idea of the participants of a wedding having to follow the heterosexual structure automatically discriminates against people who are not a part of such category.

Research has found that those who experience discrimination in regards to their sexual identity can cause great harm to the victim’s mental health. This impact is worsen when a person is confronted with discrimination based on the intersection of both sexuality and race (Sutter, 2016).  In most cases, people who are faced with the harsh punishment of being ostracized due to their identity often go through stages of depression. Ann article was written to convey the limited, but useful ways to combat depression especially on college campuses (Kulick, 2017).  In this work, the author discusses some of the social impacts people of color who also identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community face while also stressing different ways those individuals can cope and find a space of healing on their college campus.

The school system is where most negative stereotypes live and can be brought to rest. This is why it is extremely important for members of the school system to aid educating students on identifying what heteronormativity and the harmful effects it has on people in our society. The article, “Forecasting an Inclusive Future: School Counseling Strategies to Deconstruct Educational Heteronormativity,” speaks on the issue of heterosexuality and gives reason as why these ideas outside of the heterosexual norm are negative and therefore should be combatted, discredited and erase from our social atmosphere. The article states,  “Although people create regulatory practices through values and beliefs, these practices sustain over time and begin to shape the thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs of individuals (Strear, 2016). Heteronormativity is one such regulatory practice influencing social systems and individuals’ lives. Critical theories also ignited a paradigm shift from studying diversity by learning about individuals or groups, to the examination of regulatory practices that privilege some over others “(Watson, 2005). Through multiple different mediums, media acts as an additional educator. If the conclusions children come to are not explained in a manner that makes the social world one where  reason and understanding is used a way to guide cognition, then the generation to have come before them will have failed them. There is content indented to bash and discriminate against those who are willing to fight against heteronormativity. The best way to fight against this oppressive nature is to properly educate the children. Debunking existing notions some students may have is crucial work in the field of academia. This is why this article successfully illustrates the need for school counselors to part take in the fight against the heteronormative nature of our society.



KATRINA, K. (2012).Remaking the White Wedding? Same-Sex Wedding Photographs’ Challenge to Symbolic Heteronormativity. Gender  And Society, (6), 874.

Kulick, A., Wernick, L. J., Woodford, M. R., & Renn, K. (2017). Heterosexism, depression, and  campus engagement among LGBTQ college students: Intersectional differences and opportunities for healing. Journal Of Homosexuality, 64(8), 1125-1141. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1242333

Strear, M. M. (2017). Forecasting an Inclusive Future: School Counseling Strategies to Deconstruct Educational Heteronormativity. Professional School Counseling, 20(1a), 47-56. doi:10.5330/1096-2409-20.1a.47

Sutter, M., & Perrin, P. B. (2016). Discrimination, mental health, and suicidal ideation among LGBTQ people of color. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 63(1), 98-105. doi:10.1037/cou0000126

Image Attribution: Image 1 “Fuck Heteronormativity” by Wouldpkr TB CC BY-SA 2.0; Image 2 “Wedding. Reheaume : Bickerdicke” by Conrad Poirier is in the public domain

Written by Isaiah Reese, 2018

Hollywood Ten

During the heated time around the Cold War in 1947, members of Congress started investigating Hollywood for having suspected ties with the Communist Party. The House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC for short, began aggressively hunting for any communist ties or political radicals in the film industry which then led to the now famous, Hollywood Ten (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017).

HUAC (whose chairman is pictured to the right) pressured important people from theisabella 2 film industry to declare their loyalty and patriotism to the American government as well as to share the names of their colleagues who are suspected of “having politically unfriendly tendencies.” Many film executives, directors, producers, and actors were happy to comply with HUAC and gave up the names of colleagues easily and readily. Amongst these famous names that were friendly with HUAC was Jack L. Warner of Warner Brothers, actors Gary Cooper and Ronald Reagan, director Elia Kazan, and producer Walt Disney (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017). According to Campbell, Martin, and Fabos (2017), Jack L. Warner even went out of his way to suggest that when film makers poke fun of America’s wealthy, make fun of the political system, or if their movies were compassionate towards minorities then these were signs of communist propaganda.


Ten witnesses were questioned about their involvement in varying organizations. These were the “Hollywood Ten” who consisted of nine screenwriters and one director. Nine of said members of the Hollywood Ten are pictured to the left. The Ten refused to comply with HUAC and discuss their associations with any organizations or to surrender the names of any communist sympathizers (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017). In November of 1947, the men of the Hollywood Ten were charged with “contempt of Congress” which obviously violated their first amendment rights but because of the tensions from the Cold War, many people were worried that subliminal messages planted in films would tarnish the “American Way” (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017).

When they were released from jail, the damage had already been done. The screenwriters and director were blacklisted or even boycotted from any major studio. Their careers in the film industry seemed ruined.

Scholars today still look at the incident of the Hollywood Ten with an ambition to see how this event reverberated through history. According to Eckstein (2004), a position that modern scholars have looked at is whether or not the hunting down of Communist Party sympathizers in Hollywood result in a sort of cultural holocaust. There are several positions to be taken with this. The Hollywood Ten were not wholly innocent as most of them were strong and stern supporters of Stalin who has access to deliver out the Communist Party’s values to the American public whether intentional or not. At the same time, The Hollywood Ten were still victims of oppression from the U.S. Government and the HUAC hearings or their blacklists from their work industry is not by any means justified (Eckstein, A. 2004).

The hearings and investigations conducted by HUAC could be seen as harsh and unconstitutional. The fear by the American people and those who were in positions of power are justified due to the looming tense relations from the Cold War, however, the result of that fear is the reputation of members of the film industry to be Hollywood. Whether or not scholars and the public side with the Ten or the American Government and HUAC, there is no doubt that both sides had faults. The Hollywood Ten were treated as martyrs but nonetheless, they were not innocent martyrs (Eckstein, A. 2004). The events concerning the Hollywood Ten is an insight to how even constitutional rights and freedom of expression can be put aside when dealing with possible threats to the nation.


Eckstein, A. (2004). The Hollywood Ten in history and memory. Film History, 16(4), 424-436.

Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & culture: mass communication in a digital age. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, Macmillan Learning.

Image Attribution: Both images used in this post are in the Public Domain 

Written by: Isabela Antonio, 2017


Hyperreality and Simulacra

Hyperreality and simulacra are some of the most perplexing and sometimes ludicrous theories in the postmodernity area of media studies. Although when correctly understood, they can reveal a new dimension of postmodernity in which the very structure and creation of reality it critically dissected. Power and control are the underlying concerns of theorists in this framework. Although, they are not invested in the control of individuals or societies, but the control of reality itself. Reality, what constitutes it, and how its controlled is the foundational concern of theories within hyperreality and simulacra.

Hyperreality and simulacra evolved out of the postmodernity theoretical theme. Postmodernity refers to social, economic, political and technological changes that have marked the transition from modern to postmodern ways of life. There are five aspects of postmodernity described by Dominic Strinati, a sociologist and author focusing on popular culture and media at the University of Leicester. These are, the breakdown of the distinction between culture and society, an emphasis on style over substance, a breakdown of the distinction between high art and popular culture, and the decline of metanarratives (Laughey, 2007). The theory of hyperreality and simulacra stems directly from the theoretical framework of postmodernity.

Ben1Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007), was hyperreality and simulacra’s main theorist. Baudrillard was a French sociologist and philosopher from the greater part of the 20th century. His theories were descendant of Marxist theories, although they broke away in an attempt to describe postmodern society. The goal of this departure is to account for postmodern consumer and media culture. In which its images have become more real than physical reality (hyperreality) and its simulations of reality have replaced their originals (simulacra) (Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2007). According to Baudrillard, there is an excessive amount of these media images and they have ushered society into a new age, an age of third order simulation. Third order simulation is simulation where signs do not represent the real, but only hide the absence of reality. Connection does not exist between reality and its representations, therefore hyperreality is produced (Laughey, 2007). Baudrillard believed that postmodern America had escaped meaning therefore ushering it into a new age of the hyperreal. Baudrillard claims an extermination of meaning within this hyperreal America. There is no hidden or deeper meaning behind signs anymore, Baudrillard considers these signs without referents. Value judgements are rendered pointless by Baudrillard in postmodern America because any value assigned to them has no meaning in the American hyperreality.  This brings a worry of an empty future, one with no real meaning and no real direction. This empty future will only create a continuation of hyperreality as meaning continues to persist as meaningless (Laughey, 2007).

In this hyperreal world, media and its images are dispersed around us, the simulation we then live through is accepted as ‘real’. This reality is inescapable, the media has infected us with lack of meaning restricting our ability to be critical beings. This lack of criticalness has trapped us, we mindlessly consume media, further burying us into hyperreality. Theorists working within hyperreality and simulacra, especially Baudrillard, are concerned with power and control. The mass cannot realize their disadvantages caused by the elite when they exist within this mindless hyperreality. The media, political, economic, and cultural elite use hyperreality and its simulacra to destroy the will of the masses. Ideas of freedom and choice seem to be there, but they only exist in the simulation. Therefore, they have no real meaning. They exist to keep the masses subordinate to the elite, freedom within hyperreality is not freedom at all.

Ben2 A large part of what constitutes the simulacrum within hyperreality is nonevents. Jean Baudrillard applies this idea of nonevents to war in his book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. He claims that “the gravity of the non-event in the Gulf is even greater than the event of war” (Baudrillard, 1995). Baudrillard transforms the postmodernist idea of a nonevent into the idea of non-war. He sees everyone as “hostages of media intoxication” (Baudrillard, 1995). We are bombarded by images of war on our screens day by day, and are trapped in this hyperreality as hostage. This directly applies to his overarching ideas of hyperreality and simulacra. Baudrillard also is concerned with the status, meaning, and future of war as it moves from having objective, to having to prove its very existence through its images, he considers this “empty war”. War of excess in which over equipped countries can expend their resources, even human. Baudrillard states that “By the force of the media, this war liberates an exponential mass of stupidity, not the particular stupidity of war, which is considerable, but the professional and functional stupidity of those who pontificate in perpetual commentary on the event” (Baudrillard, 1995). Stupidity therefore is the product of non-war and its media coverage. The elite powers controlling war need stupidity and misinformation to glaze over the entire populous in order for their actions and procedures to be widely accepted.

In a passage of Simulacra and Simulations Baudrillard applies his theory of simulation to Disneyland. Baudrillard found that Disneyland is not a representation of America, but America itself. Disneyland exists only to hide that it, in itself is the ‘real’ America. The imaginary construction of Disneyland exists only to provide false belief that the rest of America itself is ‘real’. The ultimate purpose of Disneyland is to “conceal the fact that the real is no longer real, thus saving the reality principle” (Baudrillard, 1983). It keeps all of America believing that there is a difference between Disneyland and ‘real’ America, therefore keeping reality itself in check. In actuality there is no difference between what is inside and outside the gates of Disneyland. The same simulation that exists within Disneyland is constant throughout America. Baudrillard believes that Disneyland is simply another tool used by the media elite to reinforce hyperreality, it allows reality to exist in the minds of the people, but not in actuality. The belief that something is less real than reality itself reinforces the publics false sense reality. To understand the simulation would be to understand that there is no discernable difference between Disneyland and ‘reality.’

When discussing hyperreality and simulacra it seems difficult to place into context. Although there are multiple common examples of its presence in our everyday experiences. One could consider themed restaurants a product of hyperreality and simulation. These restaurants use their atmosphere and experience as a selling point. Ben3These of course are a simulated experience. The Rainforest Café is a restaurant that sells itself on its simulated rainforest experience, the dining area is draped in foliage, the Orlando location has a fake volcano and waterfall, and even animatronic animals. The Hard Rock Café is entirely centered on music history and culture, you are surrounded by paraphernalia and music videos through your entire meal. The Cracker Barrel restaurant prides itself on its southern theme and menu, and even has its own country store at every location. In fact, all three businesses have gift shops or stores attached to the corresponding restaurants. The unique experience associated with each business is really just ploy to have you pay for both an overpriced meal, and then spend more in their stores. The same way these businesses simulate alternate experiences during their meal to control our spending habits is a small example of how we and our realities overall are constantly controlled through simulations.

The production of hyperreality relies on a lack of connection between reality and its representations, or third order simulation. Take, for example, the idea of colors as flavors. The ideas of flavor and color are produced by two entirely different senses, although many beverages and foods are understood to have different flavors according to their corresponding color. This can be understood as a product of hyperreality. The flavor blue raspberry is an great example because its representation is removed completely the original. Not only has the flavor of raspberry completely changed, but color of the raspberry has changed from the original also. You cannot find blue raspberries in nature, the flavor is a false simulation of what was once understood as raspberry. There is no longer a distinguishable connection between the original therefore, blue raspberry is part of third order simulation, and hyperreality.


Baudrillard, J. (1995). The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press

Baudrillard, J. (1983). Simulacra and Simulations. New York, NY: Semiotext(e)

Jean Baudrillard. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from           https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jean-Baudrillard

Laughey, D. (2007). Postmodernity and the information society. In Key Themes in Media            Theory. (pp.147-168). New York, NY: Mc Graw Hill.

Sandoz, D. (2003). In The University of Chicago: Theories of Media. Retrieved from            http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/simulationsimulacrum.htm

Sim, S., & Loon, B. V. (2009). Introducing Critical Theory. London: Icon Books Ltd.

Image Attribution: “Times Square, NYC” by MK Feeney is licensed under CC BY 2.0; “No Gulf War” by Alan Turkus is licensed under CC BY 2.0; “Raging Volcano” by Tambako The Jaguar is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Written by Benjamin Lammers, 2018




Hypodermic Needle Theory

The earliest definition of Hypodermic Needle Theory (HNT) comes from journalist Walter Lippmann’s book Public Opinion, saying that the growth of mass media culture has powerful effects on the minds and behavior of people (Lippmann, 1922). Although there was no actual evidence to back up his argument, his claim is the earliest version of HNT and that mass media can directly influence behavior in the same way a needle can directly affect a body (Danesi, 2013). It can also be called the magic bullet theory or the direct-effects model and is the concept that powerful media affect weak audiences (Campbell, 2017).

Jenna 1

Harold Lasswell

The American scholar Harold Lasswell supported the idea of HNT in his Propaganda Techniques in World War I (1927) saying that mass-mediated propaganda affected the politics, family relations, general outlooks, and behavior of people. He summarizes why and how effective mass propaganda was in World War I, particularly in Germany’s case. Since mass media/propaganda was so effective during the war, it supported HNT and that people respond directly to mass media messages.

The main opposing argument to HNT comes from Paul Lazarsfelds’s The People’s Choice: How the Voter Makes Up His in a Presidential Campaign (1944) where he describes limited effects theory. Limited effects theory says that mass media do have effects on a person, but not directly like HNT proposes. First, the theory says media rarely have direct influence on a person because most people are sheltered from manipulation by family, friends, coworkers, or social groups. Second, there is a two-step flow of communication. Opinion leaders, critical media users that are not easily manipulated, spread information from the mass media to others, and they act as effective media influence barriers. Third, by adulthood most people have formed strong communities, such as political parties or religious affiliations that may reject the media messages. Which would cause a person to also reject the messages. Lastly, when media effects do occur, they are mostly small and isolated. It is easier for smaller groups of people, or weaker communities to be influenced, but not the masses (Danesi, 2017). This is the main counterargument to HNT and scholars conduct studies or observe life events to try to either agree or disagree with the two opposing theories.

Jenna 2

Illustration to HG Wells’s War of the Worlds

HNT was in speculation until in 1938 the radio broadcast of Orson Welles’s radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s novel War of the Worlds aired. The novel was about an alien invasion of Earth and there were several disclaimers throughout the broadcast stating that the story was fiction. However, many listeners thought the invasion was actually happening and there was mass panic where people even left their homes and called authorities. This led to the first psychological study of media effects (MEs), called the Cantril Study. In The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic (1940), Hadley Cantril, a Princeton University professor, and a team of researchers interviewed 135 subjects after the broadcast. The study gave empirical support to HNT when they concluded that the panic from the broadcast was real, even though many of the subjects were embarrassed to admit they thought the event was real (Danesi, 2017).

Jenna 3

Mass media effects are more powerful on children

The Cantril Study was criticized by many psychologists and sociologists as being flawed because it did not show a statistical correlation between the broadcast and the degree of reported panic. Also, panic may have been caused by media reports that purposely exaggerated the story. No deaths or serious injuries were reported after the broadcast and the streets were never crowded with panicking people. The panic recorded by the mass media was fictional. Although, the study still did prove that media produced effects on people, just not direct effects like HNT proposes (Danesi, 2017). HNT is disapproved by many social scientists, but many people still attribute direct effects to mass media, especially with children (Campbell, 2017). This led to more studies to determine the extent to which mass media impacts people’s minds and behavior (Danesi, 2017).


Baran, S., & Davis, D. (1995). Mass Communication Theory Foundations, Ferment, and Future. Belmont, California: Wadsworth.

Campbell, R., Martin, C.R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/ST. Martin’s.

Cantril, H., Koch, H., Gaudet, H., Herzog, H., & Wells, H. G. (1940). The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Danesi, M. (Ed.). (2013). Encyclopedia of Media and Communication. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press.

Lasswell, H. (1927). Propaganda Techniques in World War I. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B., & Gaudet, H. (1944). The People’s Choice: How the Voter Makes Up His in a Presidential Campaign. New York: Duell, Sloan, & Pearce.

Lippmann, W. (1922). Public opinion. Macmillan,: New York.

Image Attribution: The first image is in the public domain licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. The second image used is illustrated by Frank R. Paul in the U.S. public domain. The third image used is in the public domain

Written by Jenna Follin, 2018


Illuminated Manuscripts

Illuminated manuscript was a method of communication during the medieval era in which book-like text was decorated using the likes of silver, gold, and decorative designs (Campbell et al., 2017). The main purpose of illuminated manuscript was to communicate an idea using visual aid or simple language due to the high illiteracy rates at the time and a lack of method to mass communicate such as the printing press.

The original purpose of illuminated manuscript was to create a visual aid for religious ceremony and practice. These were estimated to have originated to have come into existence between the 4th and 7th century (Sheposh 2016). The work was put on the material known as Vellum (made of sheep and calf skin) and in order to catch the eye and convey the message of the manuscript, intricate eye-popping visual art of sorts and rather simple language was used. The main reason for this was the high illiteracy rates at the time of the manuscript’s release. The earliest works were used specifically for the uses of Christian scripture, however as time went on the purpose of the art shifted and began to vary more than just spiritual uses, due to the dense visual imagery and carefully constructed geometric designs the rich took interest in manuscripts as an art. This is when they began to transcend just simple scripture and become a highly sought-after commodity. This led to the use of manuscripts for upper class education and information with the rise of university and other higher education (Sheposh 2016).

The popularity of these manuscripts continued through much the medieval era and lasted until the mid-15th century with the invention of the Guttenberg printing press. The main reason why the manuscript died with the invention of the printing press was the relatively arduous process and long amount of time it took to create an illuminated manuscript. When a customer would order a manuscript from a bookseller the process took two years to make by hand (one 512 page manuscript even took 5 to 10 years to complete), required the work of both an illustrator and also cost approximately several thousand dollars in today’s money (Sheposh 2016) in comparison to the low price and rapid ease of the of the printing press.

The importance of illuminated manuscripts to the entirety of media is high, as is it is widely considered one of the most influential pieces of communication and media in our society. Illuminated manuscript was really one of the first mass consumable communication in our world. Sure, there was the advent of papyrus and parchment based scripts (Campbell et al., 2016) but there none of those pieces of communication were put on quite as large of a scale as the production of illuminated manuscript. Their use as not only a way to convey their intended message but also become it’s own form of art in the meantime encapsulates the overall meaning of our modern media, and this was well over a millennium ago before our preconceptions of modern media.


Campbell, R. (2017). Media & Culture: mass communication in a digital age. S.l.: Bedford Books, St Martin.

Sheposh, R. (2016). Illuminated manuscript. Salem Press Encyclopedia.

Written by Alex Abbott, 2017

Information Society

In the information society the media is the central holder of information that comes in many different forms like films, television, radio, and print. It is a society in which every aspect of information such as its “creation, distribution, access and use” (Karvalics, 2007, p. 10) are the height of economic and cultural activity. In this type of society people are heavily reliant upon technology in their everyday lives.

As noted by Mills and Barlow (2012), “The information society is an idea which has its origins in economics and sociology” (p. 513). Due to the rise of globalization and capitalism, numerous people struggle to understand the overall structure of their society. Many individuals are surrounded by the everyday exchange of information, causing them to become paralyzed by the information that they are obtaining at particularly high rate. As a result, these individuals fail to use this information and do anything with it.

In the economic sense, information is dispersed by the media to the masses, as this is how large, private corporations gain profits. Corporations disguise their information by turning it into products that appeal to the masses (Mills and Barlow, 2012). Products such as television advertisements, magazine covers, movie trailers, etcetera. These products are sent out to the media as it has multiple platforms (tv, radio, print) that connects to the masses in the form of consumerism. (Mills and Barlow, 2012).

The history of when societies entered the information society remains unclear despite the number of theorists that have dedicated their time in understanding the theory (Karvalics, 2007). According to Karvalics (2007), there is only a small number of researchers that share their viewpoints as to the start of the information society.

There are a number of theorists associated with its theory such as Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler, and Manuel Castells among other theorists. First, Daniel Bell was an American sociologist who believed that the post-industrial society would be information-based and eventually replace industrialism as he perceived information to be a dominant asset in society (Daniel, 1973). From Bell’s perspective, humans gained dominance over their environment to proceed from an industrial society to a post-industrial society and as a way to increase economic productivity and security of the population (Laughey, 2007).


Alvin Toffler, futurist and the author of The Third Wave

Second was American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler. In similarity to Bell’s concept of “the pre-industrial, industrial and post-industrial” (Laughey, 2007, p. 161) was Toffler’s creation of the ‘wave theory’. According to Toffler, the wave theory represents the three types of societies with each wave representing one society (Laughey, 2007), and as each wave comes over the other this is Toffler’s analogy to new societies replacing older societies and its cultures.

The third is Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells, who contradicts Toffler’s wave theory argues that the ‘waves’ are not separately manifested. Rather, Castells believes that all of the waves overlap each other with their connection to information (Laughey, 2007). At the same time, Castells also contradicts another theorist, Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” (Laughey, 2007, p. 153). Instead, Castells perceives it the other way around with the message as the medium which means that the content defines the medium it is delivered through. Despite these varying theories, it is possible to see the idea of the information society in everyday life.


Internet hacktivist, Aaron Swartz

An example of the information society in the real world can be seen through Aaron Swartz. In Brian Knappenberger’s film The Internet’s Own Boy (2014), it tells the story of a young American computer programmer named Aaron Swartz. He was a child prodigy by the age of ten years old and soon later attended prestigious schools including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. Swartz’s story can be related back to the information society as his titles consisted of being the co-founder of Reddit. Swartz and his founding partner, Alex Ohanian developed Reddit as a website in which users from a global scale can aggregate news and discuss topics of multiple of levels. The platform of Reddit that started out as a website has now integrated into an application for smartphones, making it more accessible than ever before. Users from all around the world can be anywhere at any given moment and they are still connected to the social platform of Reddit.

Another example of the information society materializing in the real world can be witnessed through MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show (2012) which follows a “catfish”, or a person who creates a fake profile on any given social platform to lure someone else into an online relationship. In the show, there are tv show hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph who are the ‘catfish’ investigators.


Catfish TV hosts, Nev Schulman (left) and Max Joseph (right)

The tv shows originally stemmed from the documentary titled Catfish (2010) where Nev Schulman is lured into an online relationship with a catfish. The success of the documentary later led on to the creation of MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show (2012). By using the internet’s sources, Nev and Max can gather further information that leads to the true identity of the mysterious catfish, based on the initial information provided by their catfish victim. Throughout the series, Nev and Max commonly use Spokeo, a people search website (Spokeo, 2018). On this website, Nev and Max are able to narrow down their search as the website provides them with a handful of closely-related individuals. All the tv hosts have to do is have the most basic information such as a phone number, address or a person’s first and last name (occasionally provided by the catfish victim). By typing in any of the three, the tv hosts are able to get a substantial amount of results, and from there it is a process of elimination until they come across someone suspicious or confirms that they have relations to the catfish victim. This ongoing tv show demonstrates the theory of the information society as the tv show hosts heavily rely on the people search website, Spokeo.

This website is a database containing most if not all of peoples’ information including their current and past home addresses, phone numbers, family members and financial income.

The information society is a place where every part of information is controlled by the media as a way to persuade the masses into dependency. The use of technology in this kind of society is heavily dominant which makes it difficult to separate oneself from any sort of information as it is transported through the various mediums. Though theorists Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler, and Manuel Castells all establish their own meaning of the information society, it is difficult to determine what counts as information or when the information society came to be (Karvalics, 2007).


Daniel, B. (1973). The coming of post-industrial society: A venture in social forecasting. London: Heinemann.

Jarecki, A. et al. (2012). Catfish: The TV show [Television series]. United States: Catfish Picture Company.

Karvalics, L. (2007). Information Society – what is it exactly? (The meaning, history and  conceptual framework of an expression). Retrieved from http://www.msu.ac.zw/elearning/material/1349116439Information-Society-whatis.pdf

Knappenberger, B. (Director). (2014). The Internet’s Own Boy [Motion Picture]. United States: Los Angeles.

Laughey, D. (2007). Postmodernity and the information society. In Key Themes in Media Theory (pp. 160-166). New York: Two Penn Plaza.

Mills, B. & David, M. (2012). The information society. [Excerpt]. In Reading Media Theory (p. 512). 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Spokeo. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.spokeo.com

Image Attribution: “Aaron Swartz” by Fred Benenson (CC: 2.0); “Alvin Toffler” by KUBS (Korea University Business School) (CC: 1.0); “Catfish TV Hosts” by Bébéranol (CC: 4.0)

Written by Patricia Rana, 2018

Indie Films

Though indie films do not have a single or succinct definition, indie films are most commonly defined as films made outside the influence of the major Hollywood studio system. Typically, indie films are made with an extremely small budget or sometimes no budget at all. These films are known for being alternative to mainstream Hollywood films and therefore are not usually aimed at or enjoyed by the same audiences (Newman, 2011, p. 2). Furthermore, indie films are known for unique and three-dimensional characters and often have more alternative and mature content. That being understood, indie films have created some of the most iconic and well-known films of all time.

The term independent film has been around since the creation of films. It first appeared in the early 1910s when smaller filmmakers were trying to separate from the control of Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company (Newman, 2011, p. 24). However, the term “indie” did not emerge until the 1990s. Though indie and independent are truly synonymous in content, the idea of the indie film carries a more stylish and socially conscious connotation (Newman, 2011, p. 4). Despite the nuance in title, they both are essentially the same type of film.


For educational use.

Due to that fact that indie films are produced outside of the Hollywood, they are exhibited in various other ways, rather than a standard movie theater experience. Indie films are usually debuted by arthouse theaters, or often on college campuses and recently indie films have a had a rise in viewership due to being streamed on various popular streaming services like, Netflix (Campbell, 2017, p. 231). Indie films are most importantly distributed through film festivals, like the Sundance Film Festival or South by Southwest. Furthermore, with the rise and success of film festivals, like Sundance, has led to some distribution companies to expand operations through distributing popular indie films like Pulp Fiction (1994), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), or Lost in Translation (2003) (Campbell, 2017, p. 231). The rise in popularity of the indie film cannot be without the help of these various film festivals. By having films be selected based on their indie status or lack of Hollywood influence, creates opportunities for new talent, as well as being one of the highest honors for artistic cinema (Newman, 2011, p. 27). Film Festivals have helped expose a variety of well-known classics that were once considered indies and are such an integral part to the exposure and importance of indies.

Looking at the common characteristics of indie films, they are often and easily defined and recognized by its unique characters within their stories (Newman, 2011, p. 30). Characters in indie films are usually more developed and have a realistic depth to them, compared to those in major Hollywood studio films. However, though this is a simplistic way to categorize indie films by complex characters, there is a considerable emphasis on characters and the way characters interact in these films. Furthermore, indie films can explore topics that are often too mature or not as openly explored as the themes seen with the Hollywood big budget films (Newman, 2011, p. 5). Looking at the indie classic, that went on to win many awards, Juno (2007), discusses teen pregnancy at a time when it was taboo and a topic that was not represented on screen. Moreover, Juno explores the topic not in a negative way, but at times has heart and a funny side to it as well (Newman, 2011, p. 240). Juno (2007) is not alone in the variety of indies that have explored taboo topics, however they way that it was explored was also fresh. Furthermore, indie films aim to make their films more realistic or, on the other side of the spectrum, are defined by their auteur styles. The goal of some indie films is to make the movie as close to real life in a movie form as possible, making the reason why so many characters are lifelike and stories are often not a glamorized Hollywood story (Newman, 2011, p. 28). However, on the other end of the spectrum directors like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino have made films in such particular styles that they are so far from realism, that they developed their own style that can be easily recognized by audiences. All these characteristics are unique to indies and what can define an indie film.

Many successful directors and actors have started with creating an indie film. Indie films can provide a big break for many prominent directors or actors, which have moved on to make successful Hollywood careers, like the Cohen Brothers, Wes Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino. Additionally, some successful indies have even gained a cult like status of fans behind it like Napoleon Dynamite (2004) or like other indies like Little Miss Sunshine (2006) has gone on to gross millions of dollars as an indie blockbuster (Newman, 2011, p. 233).


For educational use.



Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a   Digital Age (11th ed.). Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Little Miss Sunshine Movie Poster [Photograph]. (n.d.).

Napoleon Dynamite Movie Poster [Photograph]. (n.d.).

Newman, M. Z. (2011). Indie: An American Film Culture. New York: Columbia University P.  r.   p.   Press.


Written by Ruby Baden, 2018.

Interpretative Journalism

The idea of interpretive journalism is going beyond the typical fact-based, objective journalism and covering the more opinion based, larger background illustrations of journalism (Salgado & Strömbäck, 2011). There is more of an emphasis on the motives and significance of an event, stated by Salgado and Strömbäck (2011), rather than truth or empirical information of the event. Overall, the interpretive journalism is taking the facts and figures of past informative or objective journalism and giving it not just context in a great context but also demonstrating a human and relatable background to events in the news.

The National Observer and The New York Times, both of which are pictured, are primary examples of the beginnings of interpretive journalism becoming front page news rather than being on the side page. Bernard Kilgore was the one to launch the National Observer as a way to get a new generation of readers that are more interested in the type of stories that interpretive journalism offered (Landers, 2005).

gillian 1The National Observer contained stories of all topics such as cultural, social, economic, and political issues of the time, mentions Landers (2005), while also giving in-depth analysis and opinions on these problems. The National Observer was first released in February of 1962 and was well received by reviews and critics as a vital part of the interpretive type of journalism and separating it from the other journals at the time (Landers, 2005). There was also reproaches about the National Observer, states Landers (2005), that is still common for interpretive journalism, such as not giving serious stories or trying to persuade readers to have certain opinions on topics. Landers (2005) also discusses that the National Observer, being mainly a part of the 1960’s, is important in speaking about the turbulent times of this era by helping readers inform themselves on the opinions and activism that was defining the times. Helping increase activism of significant issues in society is one of the main reasons why interpretive journalism was created, so the National Observer being a dominant part of that help led to other papers being influenced by this journal.

gillian 2The New York Times had already started with early forms of interpretive journalism with new reviews and weekly summary side sections beginning in the 1930’s (Landers, 2005). This review news that was a precursor to interpretive journalism was central in this time period because of the Great Depression, informing people of President Franklin Roosevelt’s plans and New Deal economics and learning about the rise of fascism and crisis internationally. Because most editors felt uncomfortable about the subjective process that interpretive journalism gave to journalists, this type of journalism did not become common until the 1960’s because of the issues of the time along with the National Observer (Landers, 2005). When John Denson became the editor of the New York Times in March 1961, he adapted the interpretive journalist style that he had practiced in other journals that he used to work for, Landers (2005) includes. This led to the interpretive style of stories being moved from the side and end of the newspapers to the front-page news stories. And because the New York Times is not only one of the most famous newspapers, but it is also still going on today unlike the National Observer, which went out of print in the 1970’s, it would be influential in the development of interpretive journalism to the modern day. It is important to recognize that interpretive journalism with it opinion and human based stories still holds a deep effect with us today and what we believe in society and vital issues.


Landers, J. (2005). The National Observer, 1962-77: Interpretive Journalism Pioneer. Journalism History, 31(1), 13-22.

Salgado, S., & Strömbäck, J. (2011). Interpretive Journalism: A Review of Concepts, Operationalizations and Key Findings. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism,13(2), 144-161.

Image Attribution: Image #1 is in the Public Domain; Image #2 “New York Times” by Charles LeBlanc licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) 

Written by Gillian White, 2017


IR 1Intersectionality can be defined as a way to bridge that gap between two or more identity positions. The article “On Black Feminist Thought: Thinking Oppression and Resistance Through Intersectional Paradigm” states:

“A significant aspect of critical studies of intersectionality is their relation to power and stratification. What distinguishes black feminist thought is that it is not only concerned with oppression, but equally concerned with resistance, activism and politics of empowerment. Grounded in black feminist epistemology, it highlights the relationship between power and knowledge, and questions the idea of objective knowledge and neutral spaces (Alina, 2015).”

It is thanks to Black Feminist Thought that we now have an understanding to how two identity postions can fuse together to become one new entity. One in which cannot be separated due to the collective memory of the experiences that is shared between those who share such intersected identity.

The reality is different based on one’s collective identity, especially in the conversation around race and gender. For instance, the struggles of an African-American male are different from the various obstacles faced by African-American women. Even though the two groups share the same racial identity, advantages and disadvantages are still very based on gender in our society. Males, in some aspects regardless of race, still carry a form of privilege even if they are not fully aware of it. The term ‘intersectionality epistemological in nature’  gives our society the insight into a word that may have been unknown or simply ignore. Most may argue that the ladder is more fitting in our society. However, with this knowledge it opens the floodgates for many thoughts, ideas, and more importantly the opportunity to act on some of those issue groups can possibly face (Moradi, 2017).

Intersectionality opens up our minds to how media and other forces have created stereotypes in the means of race, gender, class, and social structures. Academic scholarship has been created and shared with the general public to be mindful of how various mediums can negatively impact the image of different groups based on a IR 2multitude of social structures, i.e. power structures. For example the article “The Iconic Ghetto” speaks on how there is notion that the ghetto is known as a place where ‘black people live’  and how this thought has been normalized in our society. This idea is an oppressive notion intersecting both race and class which then generalizes all of those who belong to the race with taking in consideration of the class aspect as well.

With this information we as a whole should work towards understanding those various intersected identities in order to aid people who may feel not represented in our social atmosphere. By equipping ourselves with this knowledge we are then able to combat various stereotypes and other oppressive systems. People should not feel restricted by the labels that are placed on them by society, especially when every aspect of their identity is not taken into consideration. Intersectionality calls for great insight into those perspective that are often out scaled by the weight of one’s master status which illustrates the need for further study into its field.



Alinia, M. (2015). On Black Feminist Thought : thinking oppression and resistance through intersectional paradigm. Ethnic & Racial Studies, 38(13), 2334-2340.  doi:10.1080/01419870.2015.1058492

Anderson, E. (2012). The Iconic Ghetto. Annals Of The American Academy Of Political & Social Science, 642(1), 8-24.

Moradi, B. m., & Grzanka, P. R. (2017). Using Intersectionality Responsibly: Toward Critical Epistemology, Structural Analysis, and Social Justice Activism. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 64(5), 500-513.

Image Attribution: Image 1 John Silvercloud  Title: “Black Lives Matter” by John Silvercloud, CC BY-SA 2.0; Image 2: “Chicago Ghetto On The South Side. Although The Percentage Of Chicago Blacks Making $7,000 Or More Jumped From 26 To 58% Between 1960 And 1970, 05/1974” by The US National Archives, public domain 

Written by Isaiah Reese, 2018




Investigative Journalism

Investigative Journalism refers to the type of journalism in which the journalist conducts an in-depth examination on a topic with the goal to reveal corruption so that people in high power are held accountable for their wrong doings (Singh 2014). Investigative journalism is important in society because it is one of the ways in which people are forced to be liable for their illegal or mismanaged activities (Singh 2014). Because of investigative journalism, people are either encouraged to do things the right way, or if they do not, they are at least recognized for violating policies.

Journalism has been evolving into investigative journalism lately for a couple of reasons. One reason is because it increases the demand for newspapers because people are drawn towards stories that reveal scandals, “People are more attracted towards investigative story, investigated by journalist and these create demand in the society of newspaper or electronic media, which creates its TRP and by this means revenue, is generated, though in the garb of investigative journalism some journalist is going for the fabricated story to increase their revenue.” (Singh 2014, 354). This is preferred over traditional journalism because traditional journalism only reports the information that is available, whereas investigative journalists dig deeper to find bad information and reveal it (Singh 2014). Investigative journalism also involves something called muckraking, “…in this the main aim of it is to find out as much as “BAD‟ information as can be found about an individual or any organization. It focuses on negative, errors or fault. Its object is to destroy.” (Singh 2014, 354). This is part of the investigation process to reveal a scandal.

Investigative journalism is often confused with leak journalism. Leak journalism is information available due to the negligence of the person who is committing the crime or causing corruption (Singh 2014). The difference is that investigative journalism aims to intentionally discover things that people in higher power are trying to cover up, not just report the information that they have unintentionally leaked without further examination.

An example of investigative journalism is the investigation of the Watergate break in lead by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are journalists recognized for revealing what is known as the “biggest story of twentieth-century American politics” (Bernstein).

amanda 3

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

“On June 18, 1972, a Washington Post front page story reported the previous day’s break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s office in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. Five men were arrested while attempting to photograph documents and place bugging devices in the offices. The White House dismissed the crime as a “third-rate burglary,” and much of the nation’s media soon dropped interest in what some jokingly referred to as “the Watergate caper.”” (Bernstein). When the scandal was brushed under the rug to be forgotten about, Bernstein and Woodward continued to investigate and report stories. “Eventually, in an October 10, 1972 story, Woodward and Bernstein were able to disclose in detail that the Watergate break-in was part of a larger effort to sabotage Nixon’s political opponents–paid for through the CRP under the direction of some of Nixon’s closest aides.” (Bernstein). Eventually, the Watergate burglars were convicted of the crime, “On April 30, due to the mounting evidence of their personal involvement, Nixon’s Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst all resigned and Presidential Counsel John Dean was fired.” (Bernstein). In this particular incident, Bernstein and Woodward were successful in their investigative journalism because they revealed corruption caused by high powered people and forced the system to hold those people accountable.

In conclusion, the main purpose of investigative journalism is to bring to light the wrong doings that frequently take place in positions of high power, and force those people to take responsibility for their actions. While this is the goal, journalists are not always successful in doing this, though Bernstein and Woodward were successful. Investigative journalism is helpful in sustaining the demand for journalism in newspapers and forcing those in high power to either do the right thing, or face justice when they do not.


Bernstein, C. 1., Buchen, P. W., Buzhardt, J. F., Ehrlichman, J., Ford, G. R., Goldwater, B. M., Company, W. P. (n.d.). Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: An Inventory of Their Watergate Papers at the Harry Ransom Center. Retrieved December 06, 2017, from http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/fasearch/findingAid.cfm?eadid=00365

Singh, S. (2014). An Analytical Study of Move from Traditional Journalism to Investigative Journalism. International Journal Of Multidisciplinary Approach & Studies, 1(4), 353-360.

Image Attribution: The images used are both attributed to Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

Written by Amanda Josetti, 2017

Lasswell’s Chain of Communication

Theorist Harold Lasswell created the chain of communication theory in 1948. This theory analyzes the way people communicate. Lasswell’s chain of communication was considered a “pioneering theoretical model of media effects” (Laughey, 2007, p.08). Lasswell focused on the five different types of analysis: control, content, media, audience, and effect (Laughey, 2007, p.09). These analyses have their separate functions: the control analysis says and ask who, the content analysis asks and says what, the media analysis asks and says in which channel, the audience analysis asks and says to whom and lastly, the effect analysis asks and says with what effect (Laughey, 2007, p. 09). Although Lasswell created the entire five process analysis, his most important ideas stemmed from the effects analysis (Laughey, 2007).

It has been said that most theories in the discipline of communication and media studies can fit into one or more of the five analysis processes (Laughey, 2007). The chain of communication both supposes total conductance of the message that doesn’t transmit without obstacles and is a great way of introducing not only theories of media effects but all media theory (Laughey, 2007). Lastly, in an ideal world, Lasswell describes an effective relay of communication as one of total conductance between the sender and the receiver (Laughey, 2007, p.09). In this scenario, there is perfect communication without any misinterpretations between the sender and receiver.

Lasswell believes the way to achieve harmony in the chain of communication is to serve three special functions in any human society: the surveillance of the environment, correspondence with the parts of society in responding to the environment, and the transmission of the social heritage from one generation to the next (Laughey, 2007, p.09). In the surveillance of the environment, human societies are typically dealt with by nation-states, and assigned surveillance roles to: diplomats, armies, and spies (Laughey, 2007, p.09). In correspondence with parts of the society, and with response to the environment, specialists like: politicians, press officers, and journalists communicate through mass media devices (Laughey, 2007). Lastly, in the transmission of the social heritage from generation to generation, the responsibility falls on teachers and lectures (Laughey, 2007).

Lasswell defines any form of communication, whether face to face or mediated, as segmented into the previously mentioned five processes and their separate methods of analysis (Laughey, 2007). According to this definition, propaganda is a form of communication. Propaganda is information with a biased or misleading nature, that serves to help or harm a person, group, or institution through the spread of rumors. Propaganda from the point of view of the chain of communication is transmitted with total conductance which, again, means that nothing compromises the full understanding of the message. According to Lasswell, any form of communication along with propaganda is assumed to travel in a straight-line. This would mean that messages only go in a forward direction from the sender to the receiver with an identifiable effect (Laughey, 2007).

In the chain of communication, a materialized real-world example is violence in television (Laughey, 2007). This example goes together with two of the five methods of analysis. It goes with the audience analysis and the effect analysis (Laughey, 2007). It goes with the audience analysis because it checks that the information communicated is


The Walking Dead – TV Violence

at the appropriate level for the audience watching. The audience analysis asks to whom is the audience? In this case, violence in television is not appropriate for the audience of children. One big reason for this is that kids at a young age are highly impressionable to their surrounds. Therefore, movies and television shows have warnings and a rating system. These two things are for parents to be aware on the television show or movie. The other analysis is the effect analysis, in this it shows possible reasons and outcomes that have to do with a certain problem or situation. The effect analysis asks with what effect? In this example the problem is violence in television. This is a real-world example that has stirred debate over the recent years because of guns violence in America whether that be schools, churches, malls etc., In these regards, the mass media has argued that violent movies effects these incidents of gun violence in a negative way. As this has become a debate there is no official right or wrong answer but rather studies that have come out in favor of both sides of the argument. For the term communication, a Loure3materialized real-world example are the social network sites Facebook, and Twitter. These two sites have become the main source for most people, where they can communicate with other people, and receive information such as the global news, current events, entertainment, sports, etc. In the present-day, it is all about easy access to obtaining, and communicating information as quickly as possible, whether nonsense information or important information. It is all right at our finger tips.

In Lasswell’s theory, he wrote a lot about an ideal world. Parts of his theory were not very realistic for the world around him because the reality of the world of communication is that it is much more complicated and not ideal. Lasswell based his chain of communication theory on his idea of power as a main point in all aspects of life. Power is the ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or through events. Another idea Lasswell had was total conductance. Total conductance is a way of going against miscommunication. These two ideas connected as they both affect something specific in a good way. This is evident in the definition of Lasswell’s chain of communication. Lasswell makes the argument that the structure of human-like animal communication serves a vital function that helps to maintain order and well-being among the communicators (Laughey, 2007, p.09). When it comes to roles amongst communicators humans naturally take up specific roles as leaders, followers, and watch-keepers that carry certain expectations in-terms of behavior and action (Laughey, 2007, p.09). Lasswell’s end goal in this theory was to analyze the way people communicate. He created a theory that can be applied to many other theories in the discipline of communication and media studies.


Laughey, D. (2007). Lasswell’s chain of communication and propaganda technique. Key themes in media theory (pp. 08-12). New York City, NY: Open University Press.

Bajracharya, S. (2018, February 15). Lasswell’s Communication Model. Retrieved May 11, 2018, from https://www.businesstopia.net/communication/lasswell-communication-model

Image Attribution: “Twitter” By P. Elliott. (CC: 2.0) “The Walking Dead” By RK*Pictures (CC:2.0)  

Written by Louie Galdos, 2018



Liberal Press Theory

Liberal press theory is an idea that goes back centuries. The idea of liberal press theory is that in order for the people of a society to be informed they must have the ability to speak freely and be able to their express ideas regarding what is going on in the world. However, throughout centuries there have been many different ideas regarding what exactly is deemed vital for the public to be aware of. This issue its reflected in the many different perspectives shared by those who were living through the transition of a press controlled by the government to a free press. People such as Mill, Locke, Keane, alongside a Marxist perspective, offer what their opinion of what an ideal free press truly in, or in some cases argue that a free press isn’t so free after all.

One of the most famous historians in the field of liberal press theory is John Stuart Mill. Mill believes that it is the right of the citizens to have to access of all news in order to make decisions about their daily life and to be informed about what is going on around them. He also believed that people should be allowed to discuss issues that face a society without judgment or fear of being persecuted against.  “Acknowledgement of the independent and political importance of the press, and a belief that journalists acted as a voice for the public and were accountable to that public” (Mills and Barlow, 2012, 41).

This continuous dialogue in a society will lead to an advance in a society that ultimately betters everyone. As such liberal press theory holds that ‘the freedom of the press is rooted in the freedom to publish in the free market’… the press-and mass media in general-serve democracy in three ways: they play a key role in informing the electorate, they provide a means of overseeing and ‘checking’ on government- the watchdog role; they articulate public opinion” (Curran 1997c:287). This quote is saying that there are multiple duties of the press and that the job of the press is not just as simple as reporting the news. That in a sense they keep the balance of information and keep everyone in check. But who has the job of keeping an eye on the press? The answer is the people who consume the news.

Mill makes many points that seemgingly make sense. But he forgets the fact that the rich and powerful are the ones who control the press, and therefore control what is talked about and what is ignored. News stations can utilize certain tactics that can impact how a consumer thinks about the news. One example of this is agenda setting. Agenda setting is the idea that if if a news item is covered frequently and prominently, the audience will regard the issue as more important. During the 2016 election there was selective reporting of certain news events regarding whichever candidate the news station favored. This made the audience feel that certain aspects of the election were more important than others. Another example of this was in the case of the O.J Simpson murder trial. On the cover of many magazines there was a mug shot of O.J and a title that made him look like he was guilty. This was a highly covered news event and the medias bias was evident during the duration of the trial. People were constantly talking about the trial and just how important it was. There was other important news that was going on in the world but every news station always had coverage on the O.J case. Giving the public the idea that this trial was the only real piece of news worth reporting.

The impact of news reporting on the public sphere raises the question, what does it mean to have a free press and is it possible to attain one? The Marxist perspective is one that is a little less trusting of the way media companies shape how news is given to the public. This idea focuses around who was in charge of these newspapers and news organizations. The idea that the elite will be the ones who are in charge of the spread of the news and in doing so will have their own agenda placed within what they chose to report and what not to report. Some believe that the development of a free press is anything but free. People went from having the government controlling the knowledge they were given, to a select few news groups controlling what is being reported. A Marxist view would be that nothing has really changed with the development of a free press. Thinking that the elite are still in charge of the news.

John Locke talks about freedom of the press and how he views it. Locke believes that the freedom of the press should be based off of “the rights of individuals” (Mills and Barlow, 2012, 42) This opinion leaves it up to the individual to decide what he or she believes or is interested in. The public should have the right to reflect their beliefs free of action or harm by the government. This is a popular view of a liberal press because it leaves the individuals as the ones who get to make the decisions, rather than a government or news institution being the ones in power.

Keane discusses the third version of what a free press is. He states that “state censorship is unjustified because it maintains the power of despotic governments, it nullifies public opinion….it’s a counterweight to the government” (Mills and Barlow, 2012, 42) Keane believes that the government should not interfere with what information is being produced because of the fear that this could have on a society. If a state were able to control what was being said, it would not be possible for a free press to exist.

Liberal press theory and its many view points are talked about by many different experts who offer their own unique perspective on exactly what they believe it means to have a free press. But in todays world we are still trying to figure out just what the best version of having a free press would be. News stations have become overly political and have lost touch with the idea that people need to be given the news and be left to think for themselves. It appears that the news has become a divider for political parties and is no longer truly interested in giving an unbiased perspective regarding what is going on in the world to their audience. This ties back into what the Marxist  perspective spoke about. The idea that the elite will only show news that benefits their own agenda. In todays world, it really has become difficult for a citizen to obtain information that is not showing favoritism towards one side or another. The news should not be a place where an individual is not told what to think, but rather be a place for thought and reflection about what is going on in the world.

That being said, we have come a long way in terms of the freedoms that are given to the public. While we are not quite there is achieving a truly free press. There is clear progress being made. Citizens are more free now to express ideas and new thoughts than ever before. Moving forward as a society we just need to keep in mind that the news is a two-way street. Viewers should not feel as if they are being told what to think but instead should be given the facts and left to decide what their opinion is to themselves.


B. (n.d.). Boundless Political Science. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-politicalscience/chapter/the-role-of-the-media-in-politics/

Ward, S. (2014). Classical Liberal Theory in a Digital World. In The Handbook of Media and Mass Communication Theory. Editors R. Fortner and P. Fackler. New York: Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118591178.ch1

Mass Media | Agenda Setting Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/communication-theories/sorted-by-cluster/Mass Media/Agenda-Setting_Theory/

Written by Brian Graham, 2018

Literary Journalism

Literary journalism is when artistic writing is inserted into a journalistic story to add value to a piece of writing. By allowing artistic creativity, literary journalism can tell a more robust story. Therefore, literary journalism is a genre of writing which incorporates a narrative prose with a little blur and exaggeration to relay a story.

Literary journalism is a medium of reaching out to the society through stories that would otherwise fail to be heard if the writing was done in a normal prose. Employing narrative and pretense is way more effective in calling to the attention of readers. Consider  two famous writers, Mike Daisey and John D’Agata. Both of them agree that the public prefers a well-crafted story and often this is a combination of facts and art (Myers, 2012). The result is literary journalism. The two share the common idea that is worth blurring facts to tell a much truer story that easily motivates the public. There are stories which cannot be told in exact to achieve a purpose. That is where literary journalism comes into play. Therefore, the basis for the style is to reach out to the world with a piece of information in a more appealing and effective way.

Journalists, particularly, know when to resort to literary journalism. Often, when the truth to be told is harsh, journalists opt for the genre of literary journalism to tell the stories. It is easy to confuse the act for pretense but that is not the case. While pretense erases all facts from an information, literary journalism merely coats the available story to meet the expectation of the society (Shaber,2014). However, the cases should not be taken to spread fake news. During use, a journalist is called upon to be certain to only include the truth, blur a few facts, but not change the story altogether. If this occurs, fake news is a result come with it. Therefore, the resort to literary journalism calls for maximum creativity.


Ernest Hemingway

Considerably, the genre has been neglected historically in certain parts of the world. Sometimes due to the laws of the land, and other times personal conscience that does not allow infringing of a subject’s truth. Despite this, there have been writers whose compositions are solely based in this genre including Norman Sims, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. The three employ mixed approaches and perspectives to reach out to the society on various thematic concerns. Through their works, a wide range of literary journalism is explored. While it is not easy to particularly conclude on the importance these essays accord, a look into some of Hemingway’s work: The Spanish Civil War Dispatch, rich insight for often overlooked writing is gained. Therefore, literary journalism remains an appropriate way to disseminate certain types of information.


Myers, D.G. (2012, May 4). Literary Journalism: What it is, what it is not. Retrieved December 6, 2017, from https://www.commentarymagazine.com/literary/literary-journalism/

Shaber, S. (2014). Hemingway’ Literary Journalism: The Spanish Civil War Dispatches. ERIC,34(5). Retrieved December 6, 2017, from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ236435.

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain.

Written by Zhiqian Glenn Wang, 2017.

Lumiere Brothers

mark coolie 1

The Lumiere Brothers, Auguste (left) & Louis (right)

Auguste and Louis Lumiere are two brothers from France who were known to be inventors and some of the first filmmakers in the history of cinema.  They were born in Barsançon, France (Auguste in 1862 and Louis in 1864).  Their father was a well known painter and started a photography business in Lyon, France, where the two brothers worked.  After seeing an exhibit of Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope, Auguste and Louis’ father strongly encouraged them to invent something that could project images rather than have to look through Edison’s kinetoscope.  They soon developed the cinematograph which combined a camera, film developer, and projector (Campbell 2017).  The cinematograph used a hand crank which projected video onto a large scale screen.  The kinetoscope required one to look inside the peep holes to view a movie.  The cinematograph was also much smaller and lighter than the kinetoscope.

The two brothers first started making short films in 1892 after their father retired from the family photography business.  The Lumiere brothers made ten short films, each lasting around 45 seconds.  These are the first 10 films by the Lumiere brothers shown to the public in Paris on December 28, 1895:

  • La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory)
  • Le Jardiniere (l’Arroseur Arrosé) (The Gardener)
  • Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon (The Disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon)
  • La Voltige (Horse Trick Riders)
  • La Pêche aux poissons rouge (Fishing for Goldfish)
  • Les Forgerons (Blacksmiths)
  • Repas de bebe (Baby’s Breakfast)
  • Le Saut à la couverture (Jumping onto the Blanket)
  • La Places des Cordeliers & Lyon (Corderliers Square in Lyon-a street scene)
  • La Mer (Baignade en mer) (The Sea)

The Lumiere brothers then went on tour all over the world after this to cities like New York, Montreal, and London to show their movies and their cinematograph.

mark coolie 2

A flyer for the Lumiere Brothers on tour

Along with being innovators for the film industry, the Lumiere brothers also helped in the world of photography.  In 1903, the Lumieres managed to invent the first camera with the ability to take pictures with color, they named this camera the autochrome.  The autochrome required a long exposure time of at least 60 seconds, so the subjects being photographed had to hold perfectly still for that period of time (Poole 2007).  Before this era of the “autochrome” there was what historians call the “monochrome” era.  During this time period people were only able to take photos in black and white.  Thanks to the autochrome, colors were beginning to make an appearance in pictures.

The Lumiere brothers took black and white palates from their family’s picture business and gathered up potatoes and grounded them up into three piles.  One pile was colored with red-orange coloring, one with violet coloring, and one with green coloring.  Once the picture was taken the particles of the potatoes would then settle into the black and white palate and create colorful images (Poole).


Campbell, R,. Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communications in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Poole, R. M. (2007). In Living Color. Smithsonian, 38(6), 60-63.

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the Public Domain

Written by Mark Cooley, 2017


The Male Gaze


Sigmund Freud

Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze is based on Freudian constructions of the psyche. Sigmund Freud was a psychologist who developed the practice of psychoanalysis which examines the conscious and unconscious areas of the mind. Mulvey uses psychoanalysis to highlight the patriarchal structure of women in films. A Freudian concept that is present throughout Mulvey’s work is the idea of scopophilia. Scopophilia, to put it simply, means the pleasure in looking (Laughey 103). It makes people into objects that are meant to be looked at. Within film the characters are constructed as objects that the viewers of the film look at. The audience is separated from the film, making them outsiders. It is as if they are intruding on the lives of the characters. This created what Mulvey calls a ‘voyeuristic fantasy’ (Hein 57). Voyeurism is when someone acquires pleasure from watching other people in private situations without their knowing. Mulvey argues that when watching films, the audience is partaking in this voyeurism because they are watching private and intimate interactions without the character’s knowledge. Film normalizes scopophilia and voyeurism, making it a common practice among all people who view films.

Another theory Mulvey builds on is Jaques Lacan’s mirror stage theory. According to Lacan, when children first see themselves in a mirror they do not recognize that image to be themselves. They see that image as a better version of themselves than they actually are and a certain narcissism develops within them (Laughey 103). When viewing cinema, the audience tends to identify themselves with the characters in the film. In this way, viewers can live out their narcissistic fantasy.

Both of these concepts helped Mulvey develop her theory of the male gaze. In cinema, there are three ways of ‘looking’: the look of the camera that records the film, the look of


Blake Lively in The Shallows

the audience at the film, and the look of characters in the film. The male gaze is the idea that the audience’s main way of ‘looking’ in the majority of films is male. This excludes female and homosexual viewers. Women are forced to take part in the male gaze on the “physically desirable, sexually submissive female characters” (Laughey 103). Many times, women only exist in films to be looked at. Mulvey refers to this as their ‘to-be-looked-at-ness.’ The way the film portrays them is solely for the sexual pleasure of the male viewer. In the movie The Shallows (Collet-Serra 2016), there are numerous shots that pan over Blake Lively’s bikini body that are unnecessary to the plot, they are only present because they are pleasurable to the ‘male viewer.’

Michele White provides an example of the male gaze in Key Words for Media Studies of an anti-smoking commercial. In this commercial, a man is looking at a dating app and he scrolls past a photo of a seemingly attractive woman because she is smoking. The purpose of the advertisement is that people will find you less attractive when you smoke. (White 75) This commercial displays Mulvey’s idea of “to-be-looked-at-ness.” The woman in the advertisement only exists in order to be looked at and assessed in terms of physical attractiveness.


Actress Mila Jovovich, smoking

The male gaze is not a construction of the film industry. Male gaze is evident in films because it is a construction of the society that we live in. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Mulvey (1981) explains:

Woman then stands in patriarchal culture as signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his fantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of women still tied to her place as bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning. (58)

Women bear meaning to men, they do not make meaning for themselves. A concept that exemplifies this in many films is the manic pixie dream girl. This is a female character that exists only to enhance the life of a male character. Their purpose is to further the plot and help the male character achieve what he is working towards. They exist as sexual objects that bear meaning to other characters. This makes female viewers feel as if they are unable to make meaning in their lives, thus contributing to the patriarchy.

There are two ways that women are a spectacle within film: as a sexual object for the character(s) and as a sexual object for those viewing the film. These take place simultaneously and puts women spectators in an uncomfortable viewing position. Men are able to partake in an active viewing of film while a woman’s view of film is passive. What this suggests is that heterosexual women are not able to partake in the viewing of the film as it is intended to be viewed, because they do not view women as sexual objects. Cinema contributes to the sexism in our patriarchal society by portraying women as sexual objects.

Returning to Freud, the male gaze promotes a sadomasochistic behavior in women. Sadism is pleasure from inflicting pain while masochism is pleasure from being in pain. When women are partaking in the male gaze by watching a film, they are essentially contributing to the patriarchy that the male gaze is constructed by being both subject and object. By participating in this objectification, a woman is putting herself through pain. Furthermore, if they identify with the female characters, they are identifying with a sexualized version of a woman that a male mind has constructed. In this, they are potentially taking pleasure in harming themselves and other women by contributing to this patriarchal society.

A major fault in this theory is that it relies entirely on psychoanalysis. In this, it assumes the audience’s reactions and thoughts about cinema without actually asking them how they respond to film. It often ignores biological, cultural, and social factors. There is a great disparity in how different races view film and Mulvey does not account for any of these differences in her theory of the gaze. Freud frequently did not take into account individual differences. He made generalized assumptions about all unconscious minds and did not thoroughly investigate the different factors that contribute to each individual life. In Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze, a look at the factors besides the unconscious mind would give the theory more accuracy and background.

Another fault in Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze is that she does not take into account queer audiences. Her whole theory is predominantly heterocentric. Simply by calling it the “male gaze”, it implies that only male onlookers are attracted to the women in the film. It also excludes homosexual males who are as not attracted to the females in the film as the heterosexual female audience members are. She touches on this criticism in Afterthoughts on Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ inspired by King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun (1946) by explaining that she was not focusing specifically on men viewing women sexually in films, but on the overarching masculinization of the films themselves, which takes power away from women and makes female viewers feel excluded (Mulvey, 1981, 29).


Hein, C. (2006). Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Frankfurt, Germany: German National Library.

Hooks, B. (1999) ‘The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators’. In S. Thornman (Ed.) Feminist Film Theory (307-320). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Laughey, D. (2007). Feminisms and Gender. In Key Themes in Media Theory (pp. 100-121). New York, NY: Open University Press.

Mulvey, L. (1981) Afterthoughts on ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ inspired by King Vidor’s Dual in the Sun (1946). In Framework (pp. 29).

White, M. (2017) Gaze. In L. Ouellette & J. Gray (Eds.), Key Words for Media Studies (75-77). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the Public Domain

Written by Sydney Armitage, 2018.



George Ritzer created his theory of McDonaldization in 1993. Ritzer was able to do this by analyzing the economic practices that McDonalds employs. Ritzer claims that these practices have a huge impact on the structure of global corporations as well as everyday life (Ritzer, 2013). Ritzer was able to utilize many past theorists because his theory is so recent. Ritzer developed this theory through the main influence of Max Weber. Weber discussed rationality in the terms of social action. Weber theorized how social action can be affected by rationality and rational actions.

Ritzer was also influenced by Karl Marx’s ideas behind alienation. Marx regarded capitalism as the main source of conflict in human civilization as well as the root cause of class conflict and divide. Marx’s ideas behind alienation included that alienation of the worker was caused through any employment done under capitalism. According to Marx, employees were alienated from their work, from each other, and socially alienated while under capitalism. Many of Marx’s main ideas can be seen through the negative aspects that Ritzer outlines in McDonaldization. Marx was able to identify certain aspects that were indicative of capitalist system in order to formulate his theory. Ritzer analyzed McDonald’s business plan to identify the reasons behind their success. Ritzer then cross-examined this among the business practices of global corporations.

The four main tenants that Ritzer states is the source of McDonald’s success are efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control (Ritzer, 2013). Ritzer is able to use his analyzation of McDonald’s business plan as well as historical influences to formulate these tenants. Weber’s characteristics of rationality included euphoria calculability, efficiency, technology, predictability, control and irrational consequences. As seen previously, it can be easily noted where the overlaps occur in efficiency, predictability, and control. Under the theory of McDonaldization, Ritzer’s four main tenants not only apply to McDonald’s business plan but to corporations on a global scale.


The efficient, predictable, and calculable burger

Ritzer operationally defines the four tenants as well as identify how they exist in McDonalds. Efficiency is defined as the most cost-effective methods to reach a goal, as well as preventing unnecessary waste. For example, items on the McDonald’s menu are hand held items like burgers which don’t require utensils. Since there are no utensils, this is an example of cutting down the waste of plastic utensils. Food products are always specifically measured at McDonalds in order to to reduce food waste as well (Laughey, 2007). This is an example of calculability because the company is calculating exactly how much food product can be used on every meal. For example, every McDonald’s hamburger is the same width and weight in order to ensure that each customer is paying and receiving for the same amount of food. Predictability can be seen through the on-going expectations that customers have when walking into McDonalds. Every time one goes into any McDonalds across the country, one can expect the same food and service. This is the reason behind predictability as being defined as expecting the same characteristics every single time.

Control in the McDonaldization theory can be seen through how McDonalds is able to control every action of the customer. Control occurs in the pre-made lines, predetermined menu that comes with little customization, and the pre-prepared ingredients (Laughey, 2007). Ritzer poses that these four tenants helped to increase McDonalds success on a global scale. The main point of Ritzer’s theory is to apply it to other social arenas and determine how McDonaldization has affected social activity and history.

It is easy to apply efficiency, predictability, control, and calculability to communication and media studies. The most recent example of efficiency can be seen through the news alerts that appear as alerts on notifications on iPhones. News companies want users to get the most amount of news in the shortest amount of time possible. The short passages that appear as notifications help to efficiently perform this. The commercials that occur during sports games effectively demonstrate calculability in the media realm. Time-outs are used for commercial time so that television companies can continue to make money when sports are not being played. In fact, certain time-outs are cut into sports games for increased sales in advertising spaces.

Predictability is often seen in the reuse of scenes across Hollywood productions (Laughey, 2007). If one director uses a scene in a film and it causes a good reaction from the audience, another director will copy the same idea behind the scene. In romantic films, one can see the same kissing scene in the rain being used in many films. Control can be seen in the procured image that celebrities are given by their managers, publicists, and agents. Every public statement, outfit, and action performed by a celebrity is predetermined (Laughey, 2007).

There are many negative aspects of McDonaldization that Ritzer outlines based on many of the examples above. Ritzer posits that McDonaldization is exploiting the consumer as well as starving the general public of creativity. Similar to Marx’s theories behind alienation, Ritzer claims that the public has no autonomy on the products in which they receive while the employees have no creativity in the work they are doing (Ritzer, 2013). This can be seen in the above noted example of the celebrity image. Celebrities are told what to do, say, and how to act so they have no original or creative thought in their work. Consumers are also being exploited into believing they are buying a product from a certain person when in actuality that is just a shaped and molded version of a real person. Ritzer’s theory of McDonaldization can be seen in other places besides the media as well.


The necessary orders and information nurses must complete

Ritzer’s theory became used by many other theorists to identify trends of McDonaldization in other parts of life. In a study done in the United Kingdom, McDonaldization was proven to be seen in their healthcare system. New guidelines for nursing staff as well as health professionals in general were put into place in order to measure compassion (Bradshaw, 2009). This guideline was put into place due to the “cold”, “bureaucratic”, and rational ways that health professionals were treating patients (Bradshaw, 2009). Instead of treating patients as patients, health professionals followed the rational instructions that were passed down to them.  McDonaldization can be seen in the lack of input and creativity that nurses were able to give to their patients. Nurses were unable to treat their patients with care and compassion because their mindsets were so heavily engrained in the rationality of the process.

Ritzer’s theory of McDonaldization can be seen more specifically in McDonalds across the globe. Each part of the world is encultured differently, so McDonalds was forced to adapt their business model to the various global locations. This is the main thought behind Ritzer describing McDonaldization as a global process. The first McDonalds set in China did not have a huge impact on life nor was it very successful. McDonalds was forced to teach citizens their ways of efficiency just as they did to Americans. Initially, Chinese citizens did not understand the idea behind a line to order food. People would cut in front


Japan-specific hamburgers

of others and people would wait a long amount of time just to order food. McDonalds had to teach the citizens about lining up in order to control their consumers into the most rational food ordering process. At first this was a difficult task, but then McDonald’s ways were imposed on the Chinese citizens. The change in social action can be seen by customers learning to adapt their usual ways to McDonald’s rational steps. The menu was also an issue on a global scale. Chinese citizens eat meals very differently than Americans, so McDonalds was forced to adapt to their ways of serving food. McDonalds offers burgers for breakfast in China because that was the most successful and rational option for the company. The types of things on the menu also changes from country to country. Despite the adaptations that McDonalds had to enact, their success still reaches populations on a global scale. Their influence on social action continues to exist in McDonalds as well as various other institutions.


Bradshaw, A. (2009). Measuring Nursing Care and Compassion: The McDonaldised Nurse? Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 35 (8), 465-468. Retrieved from ttp://www.jstor.org/stable/27720378.

Ritzer, G. (2013). The McDonaldization of Society. Los Angeles, California: SAGE.

Laughey, D. (2007). Key Themes in Media Theory. London, England: Saffron House.

Image Attribution: Figure 1: By NurseRecord [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Figure 2: By Evan-Amos [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

Figure 3: By Another Believer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Written by Karlie Dolan, 2018.

Mean World Syndrome

The term ‘mean world syndrome’ was created by George Gerbner who was a well-known journalist researching television content and the works of cultivation theory. George Gerbner was born in Hungary on August 8th, 1919 and moved to America when he was older to begin his college studies at University of California, Los Angeles.

David 1He then transferred to Berkeley University and got a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After graduating from Berkeley, he joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and worked with the Austrian and Slovenian resistance groups during World War II. After the war, Gerbner went to University of Southern California where he received his master’s degree in education in 1951 and then completed his Ph.D. in communications in 1955 (Signorielli 2016).

Gerbner joined as the staff at the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1956 (Signorielli 2016). Soon after, he became a professor of communications and then the dean at Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania in 1964.

In 1967, Gerbner started his research in television violence and created a profile. This profile was “created as part of the Cultural Indicators Project, which holds a database that spans more than 3,000 TV shows and 35,000 characters” (Signorielli 2016). This database is used to provide monitoring of violence in television broadcasts.

David 2In 1973, he created a paradigm for understanding mass communication. The paradigm had three sections. They were institutional process analysis, message content analysis, and cultivation analysis or theory. He thought that television violence had influenced the public’s perception of violence in their lives and in society making them more fearful and helping them develop mean world syndrome (Signorielli 2016). Gerbner died on December 24th, 2005 in Philadelphia.

The term mean world syndrome is a syndrome that links violence-related shows in media. It makes the viewer think the world is more dangerous than it actually is. There has been research that looks at the psychological states and states of people, such as the form of aggressiveness, which lead to violence because of media exposure (Gerbner 1997).

This aggression is linked to crime and violence that is organized and systemic (Gerbner 1997). This syndrome has heavy viewers of television to overestimate their chances of involvement in violence, believe their neighborhood is unsafe, and fear of crime is a huge problem (Gerbner 1997).

The people who have this syndrome believe and assume that that crime is rising regardless of the facts (Gerbner, 1997). The mean world syndrome results in the heavy viewers to try and protect themselves more than others. For example, by having watchdogs, buying new locks, and owning guns.

Also, when viewers are seeing their own group that they associate with have a higher chance of risk, they will develop a sense of apprehension, mistrust and alienation (Gerbner 1997).

It is also thought that long-term heavy exposure to this TV content will have consumers create unrealistic fear and mistrust others (Romer & Jamieson 2014). The impact of mean world syndrome makes consumers feel like there are dangers outside of their homes. The viewers who are heavily invested in television will increase the intensity the fears and angsts.


Gerbner, G., (1997). Rethinking Media Violence. In Media Education Foundation Study Guide Gerbner Series (Part II). Retrieved from https://www.mediaed.org/discussion-guides/Gerbner-Series-The-Electronic-Storyteller-Discussion-Guide.pdf

Romer, D., & Jamieson, P. (2014). Violence in Popular U.S. Prime Time TV Dramas and the Cultivation of Fear: A Time Series Analysis. Media and Communication, 2(2), 31-41. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/mac.v2i2.8

Signorielli, N. (2016, May 23). George Gerbner. Retrieved May 2, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Gerbner

Image Attribution: Image 1 is licensed under CC-SA 2.0. Image 2 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Written by David Hudak, 2018

Media Oligopolies


The term oligopoly, according to Richard Campbell, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Farbos in Media and Culture: Mass Communications in a Digital Age, refers to “an organizational structure” in the economic systems of the media, in which “a few firms control most of an industry’s production and distribution resources” (221). This system of complete domination and control within different media industries came about at the great, dramatic rise of the Hollywood film industry. During the early twentieth century, the two heads of the two most well-known film studios in the country-Adolph Zukor from Paramount Pictures and William Fox from 20th Century Fox-sought ahead in a life-or-death competition to seize and control the entire industry of filmmaking, having already destroyed the remains of Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company. Using the collected business levels of production, distribution, and exhibition, these men forged together other insignificant companies into their own image through vertical integration, which later merged into the brutal reality of oligopolies within the entire film industry.

Figures with this new established power in various media industries, like Zukor and Fox, were now able to influence and control other sources of media into their own, personalized image, or an extended hand on what they wanted their company’s image to look like to attract consumers. By the end of the 1920s, Paramount and 20th Century Fox, as well as MGM, Warner Brothers, and RKO, had formed the Big Five, and, along with the Little Three (which included RKO, Columbia, and Universal), merged into one of the most powerful oligopolies in the film business. Samarth Vaidya and Rupayan Gupta explain through Corruption Via Media Capture: The Effect of Competition that some of the “observations”, or characteristics, of these conjoined companies have “inspired to…identify factors that may contribute to a vigilant media which is capable of deterring corruption”, in which the “beneficial role of increased competition within the media toward deterring corruption by public officials” (1327). This means that with this “alignment” between these eight different companies, as well as any other companies from different industries, can lead to the destruction and corruption of competitors, often in a most harmful and damaging way.

Campbell, Farbos, and Martin explain that the establishment of these eight companies’ oligopoly made the life in the film business “increasingly difficult” for independently-owned studios, as they were left behind to fend for themselves “to make, distribute, and exhibit commercial films” (224). In 1948, after a series of back-and-forth appeals and disputes on the mishandling of the business, the Supreme Court declared the Big Five’s “alliance” to be unconstitutional in the Paramount Decision. Though this solution ended vertical integration and created new levels of exhibition for independent film studios, it never addressed or “changed” the system of the oligopoly in the industry itself “because it failed to challenge the industry’s control over distribution” (225). In Helen Weeds’ TV Wars: Exclusive Content and Platform Competition in Pay TV, she explains how this decision influenced a series of “loopholes” in programming, and how that influence causes the drive of “control content” television programming companies, such as Verizon (FiOS) and Comcast’s (Xfinity) recent control of Netflix, in which by “making such content available exclusively to its own subscribers, a distributor gains market share from its rivals, making exclusivity potentially attractive as a competitive strategy” (1601).

This means that when consumers subscribe to Comcast or Verizon, they can access films and TV shows “for free” on Netflix with that subscription, therefore benefitting both seemingly-contrasting companies. However, this collaboration could also lead to the potential downfall and decrease in subscriptions to other multiple-system operators, such as Dish Network (Sling TV), as well as unlimited streaming services, such as Hulu. In Media Plurality: Private Versus Mixed Duopolies, Armando Jose and Garcia Pires describe this alignment as a “mixed oligopoly”, where well known media markets such as Verizon and Comcast are “characterized by the presence of both public and private firms [which then introduces] a public firm that produces this good and that competes directly with the private firms with the objective of influencing them to also provide the public good” (943). This demonstrates that, despite the ruthless competition between cutthroat companies, media oligopolies can be depicted as having a “positive impact” on society, with the same goal of providing a specific good or service to the public. The merger between AT&T and Time Warner in 2016, for example (which included the widespread service and access to CNN, HBO, and Warner Bros.), provided a reliable news network, a free cable channel, and an influential film studio to over 130 million people in over 25 million households, thus providing accurate depictions and channels of media to multiple regions across the world.


Work Cited

Campbell, R., Martin, C.R., & Fabos, B. “Movies and the Impact of Images.” Media & Culture: Mass Communications in a Digital Age. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017. 221-24. Print.

Cantoni, Brian (Photographer). (6 November 2013). Netflix button on Sharp Aquos remote [digital image]. Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cantoni/10715878456

Mozart, Mike (Photographer). (25 August 2014). Verizon, Cellular, Mobile, Wireless Store, Newington, CT. Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/15039195422

Pires, G. & Jose, A.. “Media Plurality: Private versus Mixed Duopolies.” Journal of Public Economic Theory, Vol 18 (December 2016): 942-60. Print.

Vaidya, Samarth & Gupta, Rupayan. “Corruption via Media Capture: The Effect of Competition.” Southern Economic Journal, Vol 82 (April 2016): 1327-48. Print.

Weeds, Helen. “TV Wars: Exclusive Content and Platform Competition in Pay TV.” Economic Journal, Vol 166 (August 2016): 1600-33. Print.


Written by Olivia Montes, 2018.

Myth Analysis

Justin 1Myth analysis is one of the most important methods that can be implemented when analyzing advertisements and marketing campaigns. This is not, however, referring mythology and folklore—at least not in most cases.  Rather, myth analysis refers to “a strategy for critiquing advertising that provides insights into how ads work on a cultural level; according to this strategy, ads are narratives with stories to tell and social conflicts to resolve.” (Campbell, Martin, and Fabos, 2017, p. G-7). Essentially, myth analysis is the process by which one analyzes the various narratives presented in advertisements.

These myths/narratives can take on a number of different forms. The most common form of myth in advertisements consists of simple conflicts that usually involve individual characters facing explicit challenges. Sometimes these challenges are other characters, but more often they are inherent obstacles associated with life. These conflicts are then solved by the end of the advertisement, through the use of the product being marketed. Other, more developed advertisements (generally in the form of a marketing campaign, rather than single ads) make use of mini-stories, complete with characters, settings, plots, and everything else one would expect from a narrative arc.

Justin 2

A typical narrative arc, given a traditional beginning, middle, and end.

To the right, you can see a map of how plots typically progress. Working in such a limited space—most ads being 30 to 60 seconds—there is not usually time for this entire arc to be covered. As a result, most ads skip exposition entirely, moving straight to conflict. From there they reach the narrative with little development and then a resolution is proposed—on which most time is spent, as the resolution is generally the thing being advertised.


A great example of both common myth and expert analysis comes in “Consumer Myths: Frye’s Taxonomy and the Structural Analysis of Consumption Text” written by Barbara B. Stern. Stern analyzes advertising around Thanksgiving and one of its most commonly replicated myths, a myth referred to as the “dropped turkey.” Essentially, just before Thanksgiving dinner is fully prepared, the turkey is dropped and suddenly dinner won’t be ready in time. It is important to note that it is not always the turkey—or anything at all—that gets dropped, the myth is more broadly referring to the difficulty of preparing a large meal and the need for easily-made foods.

Examples of simple print advertisements from Pillsbury are provided from the mid-1990s. The ads make proclamations such as “Everything falls into place with the Thanksgiving experts.” (Stern, 1995, p. 169). By promising a perfect dinner with relative ease, Pillsbury is playing on the common myth, and presenting themselves as the solution to that conflict. Even without most consumers realizing it, many of us have been exposed to this myth so many times that the advertisement functions properly and is understood by most who view it.

While older and commonly replicated myths can be very effective, a myth does not have to be well known to be effective, nor does something have to be replicated to be a myth. For example, take a look at this ad for Veet. The video is only 30 seconds, yet manages to present the viewer with a small bit of exposition, a conflict, and a fully-effective solution. In this case, the “myth” being presented is that the partner of the man in bed is so “prickly” after only shaving that he mistakes her for a man. Almost immediately, the product, Veet, is introduced. Following this introduction his partner appears both female and feminine. Thus, the conflict is resolved.

What can be defined as a myth in advertising is a very wide selection. So long as it follows some altered form of a narrative arc and presents the viewer with a resolution, almost anything can be myth. Not every myth is effective, and not every myth is as thoroughly developed as another. However, due to the powerful effect they can have, it is important to be aware of various myths as they are presented in advertising and begin to analyze what they may be trying to achieve.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Stern, B. B. (1995). Consumer Myths: Frye’s Taxonomy and the Structural Analysis of Consumption Text. Journal of Consumer Research, 22(2), 165-185.

Image Attribution: Image #1 is licensed under CC0 and does not require attribution, it was edited by Justin Nash. Image #2 was created by Justin Nash. Video #1 was released under a CC attribution license on YouTube and was uploaded to the channel “Commercials.”

Written by Justin Nash, 2018


Sarah 2According to the book Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication by Campbell, Martin and Fabos (2013), “nickelodeons are a form of movie theater whose name combines the admission price with the Greek word for theater” (p.192). The first nickelodeon was introduced in 1905 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania by Harry Davis and pioneered in America by John P. Harris. The nickelodeon set up the first cinema that the public could attend and watch a moving picture. (Campbell et al. 2013)

McNulty (2005) gives insight on how Harry Davis transformed a work shop into a theater of 96 seats and charged each patron 15 cents. The first day that the nickelodeon was played 450 people attended the film, by the second day more than 1,500 people attended the film. From 1907 to 1909 nickelodeon films grew from 5,000 to 10,000. (A. Ed. 2009)

sarah 1According to Thompson and Bordwell’s Film History (2009) “By 1905, films were showing in most of the available vaudeville houses, local theaters, and other venues” (p.26). The rapid multiplication of film theaters was the main trend in the American film industry from 1905-1907. Programs normally running fifteen to sixty minutes, normally using only one projector to showcase the film. (Thompson and Bordwell, 2009). According to Thompson and Bordwell (2009) “Movie going became less a novelty and more a regular entertainment” (p. 26). The front of the theaters were normally decorated with hand-made signs with the names of the films being shown that day and evening. While inside spectators usually sat on benches or in simple wooden seats. (Thompson and Bordwell, 2009)

Nickelodeons are responsible for the success of major names in media including The Warner brother gained success by starting as nickelodeon exhibitors. According to Thompson and Bordwell (2009) “The Cascade Theater in Newcastle, Pennsylvania was the first nickelodeon acquired by Jack, Albert, Sam and Harry Warner” (p.27). Continuing their careers in exhibition and production, eventually establishing Warner Bros. The founder of Universal, Carl Laemmle opened his first nickelodeon in Chicago in 1906. Louis B. Mayer, the second M of MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) had a small theater in Haverhill., Massachusetts. Adolph Zukor started out running nickelodeons and later became the head of Paramount. William Fox who also started out by running a nickelodeon formed the company now known as 20th Century Fox and Marcus Loew’s was the parent company of MGM. (Thompson and Bordwell, 2009).

Nickelodeons helped to create the basic structure of the Hollywood studio system during the 1910s. These theaters gave names to those with little money, and many times immigrants considering the minimal investment that had to take place. According to the University of Minnesota Libraries Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication (2010) “It was the nickelodeon’s popularity that established film as a mass entertainment medium” (p.1)

Industry control as we see it today owes its success to the nickelodeon era. There were often heated disputes among companies over patent rights and industry control. The 10 leading companies in the nickelodeon industry were so frightened by the lack of control, they formed Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) in 1908 (University of Minnesota Libraries, 2010). The MPPC trade group served the purpose to pool the most significant motion picture patents which then established an exclusive patent between the large companies and Eastman Kodak Company to stock film.  The MPPC’s goal was to shut out competition and standardize the industry through monopolistic control (University of Minnesota Libraries, 2010). The great start for large companies that are seen today, are due to the nickelodeon times, where the control of power in the film industry was started.


Campbell, R., & Martin, C.R., & Fabos, B. (2013) Media & culture: An introduction to mass communication. Boston, MA: Bedford/St.Martin’s

History.com Staff. (2009) First nickelodeon opens. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-nickelodeon-opens

Mcnulty, T. (2005). You saw it here first: Pittsburgh’s nickelodeon introduced the moving picture theater to the masses in 1905. Retrieved from http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movies/2005/06/19/You-saw-it-here-first-Pittsburgh-s-Nickelodeon-introduced-the-moving-picture-theater-to-the-masses-in-1905/stories/200506190169

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2017). Nickelodeon. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/art/nickelodeon-motion-picture-theatre

Thompson, K., & Bordwell, D ( 2009) Film history: An introduction third edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

[Author removed at request of original publisher], M. (2016). Understanding media and culture: An introduction to mass communication. Retrieved from http://open.lib.umn.edu/mediaandculture/chapter/8-2-the-history-of-movies/

Image Attribution: The images used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Sarah Cataldo, 2017

Nielsen Media Research

Nielson has been the major organization that tracks and rates prime-time viewing audiences since 1950. They estimate what viewers are watching in the nation’s major markets. Nielsen main goal is to “provide advertisers, broadcast networks, local stations, and cable channels with considerable details about viewers-from race and gender to age, occupation, and educational background (Campbell 2017).”

The article Optimizing the Automotive Path to Purchase demonstrates what the Nielson Media Research company can offer to consumers and companies. It is a “perspective” article backed by research from Nielson that explains new trends in automotive purchase decisions. It also mentions another Auto Marketing Report that offers “a full understanding of how consumers shop for cars and how they react to automotive advertising (House 2018).” The article first explains some common misconceptions about the car market. The author explains how consumers do in fact have a bias toward certain car companies and that the car buying process is not simply a process of elimination. Companies really need to build deeper connections with consumers at multiple channels to promote purchases. The author also explains how awareness is crucial in reaching consumers and it is important to build deep connection with consumers. The information presented in this article is very useful for car companies in the industry (House 2018).

Connected Commerce: Connectivity is Enabling Lifestyle Evolution is a report made by the Nielson Media Research group that explains the effect of mobile devices on consumers and making purchases in the 21st century. There is no denying that “internet accessibility, mobile technology, and digital innovations are redefining consumers every interaction and will continue to enable and disrupt many aspects of consumers’ lifestyle well into the future (2018).” The report also talks about how the internet simplifies consumers’ lives and how being so connected effects communication platforms. Finally, the report by Nielson Media Research suggests some strategies for manufacturers and retailers to succeed using technology. Reports like this made by Nielsen keep readers up to date with current trends. For companies who read this material, they will find that “success and sustained growth for manufacturers and retailers will be about creating strategic advantages across converged channels, touchpoints and experiences along the path to purchase, in both developed and developing markets, and evolved and emerging categories (2018).

VIDEO: Nielsen Media Research

The video above explains furthermore of how the Nielsen Media Research group operates. They have divided the United States into 210 sections called Designated Market Areas. Counties in those market areas are where Nielsen study consumers and their viewing habits. They monitor what channels are being watched, how long they are being watched, and whether viewers are switching between channels. Network companies use this information to determine what shows are succeeding or failing in certain demographics. Advertisers use this information to demonstrate what demographic they should promote their product to. Ad agencies use Nielsen’s demographic information as well for commercial use. Companies use the Nielsen ratings to also determine the cost they need to charge for commercial air time. Nielsen uses a random sample of viewers to establish their ratings system. They select homes based on address, not who lives in the home, using census data. Individual recruiting then begins with the people that live at that certain address. They also ensure that their random samples are reflective of the market itself to ensure more accurate results. If you are chosen to be a “Nielsen Household,” the company will send you a questionnaire that asks to describe the demographics of the individuals that live in that residence. Once filled out, a Nielsen representative will come to your home and establish a relationship with you to make sure that the individuals within the household are comfortable with being studied. The next step is the “Nielsen diary” which is sent out 4-7 times a year to households to determine viewing habits for one week, filled out by every member of the household. Local markets collect demographic information from these diaries and store their data for future use. As technology is changing, the Nielsen Media Research group is also constantly changing to keep up with the norms of television viewing.


Nielsen Insights Report

Data gathered from Nielsen’s Media Research is displayed in the above picture. This shows an example of some of the data they collect and how it has increased from the previous year.




Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, Macmillan Learning.


Connected Commerce: Connectivity is Enabling Lifestyle Evolution. (2018, November 19). Retrieved December 3, 2018, from https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2018/connected-commerce-connectivity-is-enabling-lifestyle-evolution.html


House, B. (2018, November 29). Optimizing the Automotive Path to Purchase. Retrieved December 3, 2018, from https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2018/optimizing-the-automotive-path-to-purchase.html

Image and Video Attribution:

The image and video used in this post is in Fair Use and for educational purposes only.



Written by Mark Diese, 2018.

Objective Journalism

JacklynObjective journalism is a model within the journalism world that revolves around hard facts, instead of opinion. This type of journalism is supposed to be unbiased, which discredits any opinion columns. These articles must include verified facts, and if they aren’t verified, you as the writer are held accountable. It follows the inverted-pyramid style of reporting (Campbell 2017). This model answers the most news-worthy questions at the top and then trickles down to the less significant details. The new reliance on this pyramid ultimately signaled journalism’s break away from partisan tradition (Campbell 2017).

The idea of objective journalism was created by Adolph Ochs, who bought the New York Times in 1896 (Campbell 2017). This early development of the hard-news paradigm has led to a widespread use of objective reporting elements in American press (Esser and Umbricht 2014). Ochs had originally created this model as a marketing strategy against Hearst and Pulitzer papers (Campbell 2017). He took an informative approach instead of sensationalizing his paper. This approach was originally targeted at “affluent and educated readers”, but soon attracted everyone when Ochs dropped the paper’s price to a penny (Campbell 2017). The concept soon became a root of journalism in the United States as many reporters began taking this factual approach.

The European press also attempted to adapt this hard-news paradigm, but it did not have the same success story as the United States. American journalism revolved around fact-digging while many European countries had groups of “high literary creators and cosmopolitan political thinkers” (Esser and Umbricht 2014). This forces European Press to find themselves caught in between the hard-news American ideal and British tradition (Esser and Umbricht 2014). This tradition is exactly what Adolph Ochs moved away from with the New York Times. Europe’s initial indecision is what caused them to fall behind while American journalism flourished with it’s objective approach.

In today’s world objectivity is extremely important not only in journalism, but also in broadcasting. Papers and news stations risk the loss of readers/listeners if they begin to pick sides with the event they are reporting on. People are not going to continue listening to slander about what they believe in. Many news consumers know what they believe and agree with before even reading the story. Therefore, they do not want opinions from their news source, but instead want just the facts. Opinions ultimately skew the reality of a situation.

A major question raised with objective journalism is if it conflicts with journalists’ tradition role of raising awareness of important issues (Campbell 2017). Can we raise awareness but also be unbiased? Or would raising awareness around an issue put a biased emphasis on it? This is the controversy that surrounds the “perfect” objective model in journalism. However, objective journalism can and is still attainable in today’s society. Journalists are still stating the facts, and many are avoiding their own instinct to even hint at an opinion. Regardless of the story a journalist is covering, the first and most important obligation in objective journalism is the truth.


Campbell, R., Martin, C.R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s.

Esser, F. f, & Umbricht, A. (2014). The Evolution of Objective and Interpretative Journalism in the Western Press: Comparing Six News Systems since the 1960s. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 91(2), 229-249.

Image Attribution: The image used in the entry is in the Public Domain.

Written by Jacklyn Russo, 2017

Online Advertising

Prior to the internet, marketing had many physical obstacles, ranging from time zone differences to currency exchange rates. Today, the physical store has evolved into a virtual marketplace where sellers and buyers can do business all without ever leaving their home. The advent of web business also brought on web advertising.

john 1

A collection of web adverts

Online Advertising, also known as Web Advertising, is a type of advertising that utilizes the internet to promote a product or message to the consumers. With the internet so crucial in today’s society, online advertising has many different components, not limited to but including: email, mobile apps, search engine marketing, and numerous versions of display advertising.

The two main parties involved with online advertising are the advertiser and the publisher. The advertiser is the creator of the ad, be it a web banner or a logo. The publisher is the one who puts, or publishes, the advertisement to the internet for the consumers to see.

Search ads and display ads are the most widely used forms of online advertising. In search ads the publisher, search engines such as Yahoo! and Google, require the advertisers to “bid” on how high or low they want their ad to be displayed. The higher the bid, the higher the ad is placed when the consumer searches keywords on the engines. For companies like Google, revenue from displaying search ads make up most of their income. Display ads are used in web pages where the publisher charges the advertiser to display their own banner on the display of the publisher’s web page (Prussak, 2013).

john 2Social media advertising is currently rising in popularity. With many different social media platforms and their worldwide usage, companies are coming up with innovative ways to advertise through social media. This type of online marketing is a “medium in which billions of dollars are spent in the U.S. and around the world” (Sconyers, 2017). In this case, the advertiser will pay the publisher, a celebrity, or social media influencer with a large media presence, to promote their products on the publishers platforms ranging from Facebook to YouTube.

Still, not every consumer wants to see ads every time they go online. Ad blocking has made an appearance in which consumers can pay or install software to stop from seeing online ads. “Ad blockers had been available for some time, but their potential use in the world’s most popular mobile browser heightened their saliency and brought the debate over their use into mainstream media”(Wicker & Karlsson, 2017).  This brings a big hamper to the online advertising industry because ad blocking can cost advertisers tens of billions of dollars. The argument that ad blocking violates an implicit contract between the viewer and publisher actually falls under legal grounds. Ad blocking has been referred to as a form of theft from Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It is still under much debate as to whether such rules have integrity on the Internet.


Prussak, A. Y. (2013). The Income of the Twenty-First Century: Online Advertising as a Case Study for the Implications of Technology for Source-Based Taxation. Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property, 1639-77.

Sconyers, A. (2017). Corporations, Social Media, & Advertising: Deceptive, Profitable, or Just Smart Marketing. Journal of Corporation Law, 43(2), 417-436.

WICKER, S. B., & KARLSSON, K. (2017). Internet Advertising: Technology, Ethics, and a Serious Difference of Opinion. Communications of The ACM, 60(10), 70-77. doi:10.1145/3048384

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are part of the Public Domain

Written by John Kim, 2018


The topic of pastiche in modern society is extremely applicable to multiple different fields. Because of this, theorists like Fredric Jameson have written pieces mentioning the term pastiche and applying it to their respected fields. The initial focus in Jameson’s work was the way pastiche has an effect on and has been affected by theories in the communications realm. Jameson focuses on pastiche and its lack of creativity. His focus compares the concepts of pastiche and parody and how, in the current media climate, pastiche unapologetically rips off other pieces of work and is “parody that has lost its sense of humor” (Laughey, 2007, 155).

When discussing the theory of pastiche and the effects it can have on artistic creation, it is important to first look into who Jameson is in his background, and how that has interplay into his theorizing of different cultural concepts. Originally a literary critic, Fredric Jameson has institutionalized understandings in a wide variety of different cultural media subject centers; anything from contemporary Korean film to North-American science fiction to Chinese poetry (Danius 1). While this may appear to be a large spread of different topics that have little to no correlation, Jameson was able to utilize his understanding and specialization in a large quantity of seemingly different types of culture and make connections between them. A lot of his theorization on pastiche could be derived from his investigation into cultural connections between all of these types of media; finding drastic similarities that could in turn insinuate that there is a systemic overhead monitoring all the cultural artistic creations.

Jameson’s background in historical analyses of such topics was also a predominant part of what motivated him to take the position that he did on pastiche. Jameson drew a connection between realism and postmodernism with the transition in capitalism from classical capitalism to imperialist capitalism and then finally global/late capitalism. Jameson used his previous knowledge on the history of cultural artistic creation to posit that the growth and exponential power struggle that occurred within capitalism globally could be related to the transition of art creation from individualistic to appeasement of an authority figure. If he had not had the background that he did before analyzing this subject matter, his analysis very easily could’ve been subject to unsubstantiated claims and guesses as opposed to deductions off real life findings.

Jameson’s conceptualization is that pastiche is the lack of originality. In his words pastiche is “the disappearance of the individual subject, along with its formal consequence, the increasing unavailability of the personal style, engender the well-nigh universal practice today” (Jameson, 1991, 21). In other words, pastiche has created a system that focuses less on the individualistic motivations of art and more motivated by the appeal of what is deemed good and worthwhile to create. The increasing unavailability personal style insinuates that I see as more of a passive effect that pastiche has on artistic creation; that the movement away from individual’s creating what they want comes from a power higher than their own personal motives. Jameson explains the of the effects of pastiche through an example focusing on film. Instead of creating new and challenging films, many filmmakers resort to using well known and well-liked motifs that will garner more public support. He uses the example of the 1950s Americana motif. “One tends to feel, that for Americans at least, the 1950s remain the privileged lost object of desire, and to be able to create filmography that allows viewers to put themselves in the situation creates a sense of passive existence within this realm” (Jameson, 1991, 23). The understanding of film producers is there that people will pay into films such as these—he cites George Lucas’ 1973 American Graffiti as an example—it is more financially responsible to continue to make these films than go out on a limb and make a film that individualistically the directors and producers are more emotionally tied to but may not do as well. The inherent bases that Jameson’s theory has in late capitalism is a tell-tale sign of how detrimental capitalist ideals can be to a field like the arts. Capitalism’s focus on making money takes away the individual’s desire to risk financial ruin to do what makes them the happiest.

For Jameson, pastiche has come out of these very capitalist ideals, and have created a system that is now ingrained in the very way human beings create and operate within the arts and in other fields. Jameson posits that “the extraordinary impact of capitalism on hitherto traditional cultures, the social and psychic damage done to now irrevocable older forms of human life and perception” (Jameson, 1991, 206) has irreversibly affected the arts and artistic creation to a point of no return. The concept of traditional cultures is intriguing because it creates the narrative around pastiche that it has not always been an integral part of our culture. Other theorists that discuss pastiche, like Lawrence D. Mankin, look at pastiche in the lens that it has always had a kind of interplay in cultural creation and has only gotten more pertinent with the introduction of capitalist ideals. Jameson’s theorization that pastiche was created out of the capitalist system tues the two concepts together much more than other theorists have, while arguing that pastiche has a sense of passivity that other theorists argue against. Pastiche is not something that is ingrained into the very nature of human beings the way that creating culture is. Rather,  it is a response that is motivated by the socioeconomic climate in the world.

When talking about Jameson’s theorization it is also important to define and discuss his conceptualization of intertextuality. Jameson defines intertextuality as “a deliberate, built-in feature of the aesthetic effect, and as the operator of a new connotation of ‘pastness’ and pseudo-historical depth, in which the history of aesthetic style replaces ‘real’ history.” (Laughey, 2007, 156) Jameson goes on to explain how intertextuality goes hand in hand with pastiche in that they both effectively ignore the past in their creation of more artistic culture. Nostalgia, as Jameson lays out, exists when films in the current day relay back to a different time period. Because of this, we never truly focus on what is going on in the present.

However, Jameson’s arguments of pastiche and intertextuality have many pitfalls. Jameson assumes that original cultural creations have to be created in a vacuum and everything that has influence by something else and doesn’t directly acknowledge it is pastiche (Laughey 157.) However, the ability to create unique and original creations is impossible not because of pastiche, but because of the inherent inability to not be influenced by one’s surroundings. Another criticism of Jameson’s understanding of how pastiche has effected our society in the postmodern era is that there is evidence to show that pastiche has existed far before postmodernity. Examples like Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra show a pastiche-like intertextuality influence far before theorists were acknowledging that it exists (Laughey 157).

In a more current sense, pastiche can be applied to much of pop culture today. Take for instance Madonna. Madonna when she first came into social power–even today–seemed revolutionary. But with careful examination it can be clear that there is a very close relationship between the shock value of Madonna and the shock value Marilyn Monroe brought to Hollywood. The vixen role that both women play, in an otherwise sex-negative media narrative, presents a refreshing yet challenging notion that things don’t necessarily have to be the way that society dictates them. Contrarily, it is not a new fight that Madonna brought to the public eye. What can be seen as unique feeds right into Jameson’s understanding of how cultural creation will continue to be the same, over and over again. In a Jamesonian sense, there have been Monroe and Madonna-esque figures before, and there will continue to be these figures every time womanhood is challenged.


Jameson, F. R. (1991). POSTMODERNISM, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Laughey, D. (2007). Postmodernity and the information society. In Key Themes in Media Theory (pp. 147-168). London, England: Open University Press.

Danius, S. (2015, March 05). About Fredric R. Jameson. Retrieved May 5, 2018, from https://www.holbergprisen.no/en/fredric-r-jameson/about-fredric-r-jameson.html

Written by Will Hewitt


Patent Medicine Advertising

Patent medical advertising, also known as patent medicine advertising, or simply patent medicine, is a type of advertising that uses bright images and often false slogans to convince people to buy a product.

The staple of patent medical advertising is over-the-top, colorful ads filled with unverified claims of remedy.  Manufacturers could put things such as fish oil in a brightly colored bottle and claim that it would cure the common cold, with little to no recompense.


Take a look at the advertisement for “Sequah’s Oil and Prairie Flower.” This is a perfect example of patent medicine advertising: the bright red and yellow banners and the red-highlighted text are meant to grab the attention of the observer and draw it towards the ad.  It refers to the oil as an “Indian Medicine”, thus making the product seem more mysterious and, to some, spiritual.  A banner near the bottom lists all the things the oil supposedly ‘cures’, including “all blood diseases.”  Claiming to cure a broad type of illness is typical of patent medicine. In the left-hand oval, to the right of the person standing, is a scroll that reads, “the greatest family medicine ever introduced.”  There is also a yellow banner that runs along the bottom which says, “as sure to cure as the summer sun will melt ice.”  These kinds of baseless claims are another staple of patent medical advertising.

One of the earliest examples of patent medicine in England were Anderson’s Pills, an early 17th century concoction, whose creator claimed the recipe came from Venice (Young, 1961).  With the rise of the American colonies, many Europeans immigrated to America, and brought with them patent medicine.  Though it was around from the beginning of the colonies, patent medicine advertising really only gained prominence in the mid-19th century.  Patent Medicine was allowed in the United States from the beginning of the colonies until the 1906 Pure Foods and Drugs Act.

Patent Medicine rose to prominence because it drew the eye of the reader and convinced them with strong words and colorful pictures that this medicine would cure all their ailments. In a time where medical science was not very advanced, and amputation and death were still very real treatments for common ailments, this promise of a “miracle cure” was a shining hope in the darkness of illness.

However, not all people believed these ads, in fact, there were thousands of newspaper articles throughout the late 19th and early 20th century condemning patent medicine.  The most famous series of anti-patent medicine articles was quite possibly 1905’s “The Great American Fraud,” by Samuel Hopkins Adams, which, as the title suggests, warned against patent medicine as fraudulent and wrong (Young, 1961).

On February 21, 1906, Congress passed the Pure Foods and Drugs Act, which, almost as a side effect, caused the downfall of patent medicine advertising (Young,1961).  Sellers were now required to put a list of ingredients on the sides of their product labels.  Because of this, sellers could no longer claim to have miracle cures, because people could see the formula and realize the product’s advertising was false.  Thus, ended the use of patent medical advertising.


Campbell, R., Fabos, B., Martin, C. R. (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Young, J. H. (1961). The Toadstool Millionaires: A Social History of Patent Medicines in America before Federal Regulation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Unknown Author. (1937). Commerce Without Conscience Dangers of Patent Medical Advertising. The British Medical Journal, 2 (3994), p.178-179. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25366675

Image Attribution: “Advertisement for Sequah’s Oils and Prairie Flower” by Wellcome Images licensed under CC by 4.0

Written by Nick Hayes, 2017

Penny Press

Penny press is a term that refers to the one cent newspapers that began circulation in the 1830s because advancement in printing technology. These newspapers allowed news to become a mass medium because of their increased accessibility to the lower and middle class compared to the more expensive newspapers of the past.

Benjamin Day, the publisher of the most popular penny paper The New York Sun, transformed the daily newspaper from something narrowly focused with low distributions that was not equally accessible, to a mass produced medium. He conceived of a way to get people who rarely read newspapers, or who never thought to buy them, to want to buy them, and buy them daily. (Brazeal)

benDay’s plan for The New York Sun helped to usher in a business model, and market system, that made print newspapers viable for the new mass medium. In the editors notes of the sun Day said ‘‘The object of this paper is to lay before the public, at a price within the means of everyone, ALL THE NEWS OF THE DAY, and at the same time afford an advantageous medium for advertising’’. Day’s ability to apply these ideas to, and capitalize on, the unique qualities of news media were qualities that have become permanently associated to the modern daily newspaper. They are also the qualities that justify labeling the penny press as a mass medium. (Brazeal)

The unique qualities and techniques of The New York Sun, and other penny papers, have directly contributed to modern journalistic trends as they created new readers and markets. They created human interest stories which transformed into tabloid style journalism, reduced the time between an event and publication of its report, the stark competition in the market between penny papers slowly grew into yellow journalism, and their need for low priced, quality content, laid the foundation for wire services later in news media’s history.  (Campbell)

The penny press helped incorporate print news, and news in general, into the mass medium we see today. It created competition allowing it to be accessible by all people. It transformed journalistic reporting into something tailored for all readers. Ultimately, and most importantly, it created the conditions to made news media accessible to everyone.


Brazeal, D. K. (2005). Precursor to Modern Media Hype: The 1830s Penny Press. Journal of American Culture, 28(4), 405-414. doi:10.1111/j.1542-734X.2005.00243.x

Campbell, R. Martin, C. Fabos, B. (2017). Loose-Leaf Version for Media & Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication, 11th Edition. Boston, Mac-Millan Learning. 254-25

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Benjamin Lammers, 2017




Political Economy of Communication and Media

Political economy examines how power and economics are related, and how they influence mass media, social, political, and economic structuration. The tradition of political economy developed alongside the great capitalist revolution in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In reaction to the social and commercial transformation created by capitalism early political economists looked to understand social change and historical transformation (Mosco, 2014). To most effectively understand the relations of power and how they play into social and historical transformation, political economists assess the totality of social relations that make up all areas of economic, political, social, and cultural life. Political economy has consistently aimed to build unity of the political and economic, understanding that the two have a reciprocal influence on each other and the public sphere. The political economic approach understands the integration of capitalism into societies’ social and economic structure. To understand the change occurring, the paradigm looks to how industry operates and how these operations effect the social relations. By understanding the forces of social and historical change political economists are able to intervene and address the problems which arise in a capitalistic world.

Political economy looks to pair its research with social intervention, with the goal of producing positive social and moral change. This combination of research and application is called social praxis. Political economists are united under the view that the division between research and action is artificial and must be overturned. Praxis is a demonstration of political economies’ commitment to a moral philosophy. Different approaches to political economy favor different moral philosophical standpoints. Political economy research always has a moral imperative, and intervention behind it. Unilaterally, political economy has an interest in values that help create social behavior and the moral principles that guide the efforts to change it.

Theorists such as John Stuart Mills and Adam Smith began researching the causation of social and historical change in reaction to the capitalist driven industrialization of labor. Smith and Mills examined the economic transformation from agriculture labor to commercial manufacturing. Karl Marx examined the class dynamic within capitalism to explain historical change. These classical political economists all demonstrated concerns for history, the social totality, moral philosophy and praxis, but they fundamentally differed on the characterization of intervention. This schism motivated the evolution of classical political economics. Orthodox economics developed under the influence of Adam Smith and his followers, outlining the structuration of the free market and its ideologies. Orthodox economics neglected classic political economy’s concern for the dynamics of history and social change and focused solely on the production, distribution, and consumption of resources. Additionally, it grew to neglect classical principles such as praxis, social totality, and moral philosophy. From orthodox economics was birthed the science of economics, or simply economics. Economics conceptualizes the market through mathematics and statistics. Just as orthodox economics developed into economics under the influence of Smith, classical political economics transformed into contemporary economics, following a Marxist ideology. Contemporary economics is geared towards extending democracy in all aspects of social life. Its moral philosophy motivates the approach to promote democracy in all spheres of life.

To analyze the politics and economics of media institutions, contemporary political economics study three social processes: commodification, spatialization, and structuration. Commodification is a process of exchange. Goods and services are transformed into profitable values which can be exchanged in the marketplace (Mosco, 2014). Food’s ability to satisfy hunger gives it value in the market, so when it is sold the food is commodified. Understanding how these goods are being commodified gives an entry point to understanding the behavior of communication institutions. Spatialization looks at how institutions overcome constraints of time and space in social life (Mosco,


Visual example of horizontal and vertical integration

2014). The evolution of communication technologies means the concept of time and labor, and how companies uses these commodities, are constantly being reworked. Since these constraints are constantly in flux, it is crucial to understand these changes. Corporations extend their control of space and time by integrating with other industries. Horizontal integration occurs when a company purchases another company in the same media operation, giving them more control over the market. Horizontal control monopolizes the profits. A company vertically integrates when it extends its control over the process of production. Vertical integration awards the newspaper company with the profits from every waypoint of production. The last basic tenet of contemporary political economics is structuration. Through structuration of governmental, social, and economic institutions create persistent inequalities in communications systems as a means to keep power over the laboring classes. Political economy looks at the how the structuration of class and institutions incorporate ideologies of agency, social process, and social practice into society.

As the world economy continually becomes more intricate and globalized, the field is adapting to the constant growth of the media markets and transnational corporate integration. The current trends of study show a globalization of political economy research. Rapidly over the last two decades, political economy has established a concentration on international research (Mosco, 2014). The process of global expansion has made the work of political economists more necessary. The integration of the global political economy and its media systems creates a web of strategic partnerships which influence a myriad of social relations across the globe. The ability to structurally assess transnational business conglomerates grows ever more imperative as business grows larger and gains influence to cover up exploitive and undemocratic behavior. Inequities are created in a global economy because there is no positive moral philosophy to capitalism, transnational integration monopolizes power to the hegemonic regimes, and the complex structures of these corporations shroud these inequities. The political economy paradigm is the antithesis to modern capitalism. The paradigm acts on solving modern inequities with a moral imperative and a dedication to understanding the social totality of situations.

Political economy possesses the ability to structurally assess the technologically and organizationally intricate companies such as Uber. A political economic approach to Uber would first look at the structure of Uber and asks ‘what agencies are necessary for Uber to exist?’ The key agencies involved in any and every Uber ride is the rider, the Uber app, the car, and the driver. Uber is commodifying the service of ‘catching a ride’, also commodifying the rider, as they are constituted by their bank account. Uber also sells the idea of a smooth, cashless transaction, which is less awkward and cumbersome than public transit.


The display and screen of the Uber App. One press gets the user a ride.

To address the idea of spatialization a theorist would look at the algorithms and technologies inside the Uber or how geocaching works. Continuing examining space and time, there must be an understanding of Uber’s time surge pricing and how it plans these surges around metropolitan time-geography. The last step is understanding Uber’s structuration. How does Uber’s structure discriminate against those without credit cards? How does the structuration of Uber hurt the quality of public transit? How can Uber say that it isn’t a transportation company that employs drivers and therefore should not be subjected to the regulations of that industry or employers in general? The analysis looks to see how Uber manifests itself in the world and through this understanding augment or better the everyday existence of Uber.

Online dating sites can also be examined through a political economy lens. The question is what is being commodified inside the business of online dating. Of course, users commodify the idea of ‘finding love’ by paying for accounts, but the personal

Evan 3

A online dating profile, with bountiful information for advertisers.

information of the user is truly being commodified. Looking at the corporate integration of online dating sites, it is apparent that over half of the most popular online dating sites are owned by the same company. These corporations make a large portion of their profit from selling their user’s personal information to advertising companies. The structuration of the online dating profile are gender binary, excluding gender fluidity or other identifications. Intersectionality can not be achieved inside the current structure because the categorized sections of dating profiles make it easier for advertisers to distribute and use.



Laughey, D. (2007). In Key Themes in Media Theory. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Mosco, V. (2014). The Political Economic Theory and Research: Conceptual Foundations and Current Trends. The Handbook of Theory and Mass Communications, 1, 37-54.

Image Attributions: “ok cupid scam account” by Carl Lender, 2016, CC by 2.0; “An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC” by Andrew Caballero, 2015, CC by 2.0; “Vertical versus Horizontal approach” by Universal Mobile, 2009, CC by 2.0

Article by Evan Gaines


Postfeminism acts as an antidote to feminism and believes in “the active disavowal of feminism as a necessary politics” (Banet-Weiser, 2018, 153). Feminism is a movement that endorses the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Feminism and the fight for gender equality have been around since first-wave feminism began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the suffragist movement. Postfeminism argues that since women have already achieved equality in society, there is no longer a need for feminist thought; it refers to an ‘after’ feminism — a state where equality has fully been accomplished and gender discrimination is a feature of the past. Sarah Projansky (2001) contends that “the concept of postfeminism perpetuates feminism in the very process of insisting that it is now over” (p. 66). Feminist media scholars, like Projansky, have worked and continue to work in order to disprove postfeminism and discredit its validity.


Women’s Liberation March in Washington, D.C. (1970)

The history of postfeminism is not linear. The 1960s and 1970s saw an emergence of mainstream liberal white feminism, which is now referred to as second-wave feminism. This second-wave movement made significant strides in bringing gender issues into the spotlight. Some women’s issues that became more regularly discussed in American society were “related to reproductive rights, equal pay, the family and legal realms, and the workplace” (Banet-Weiser, 2018, p. 152). Overall, feminists during this time were labeled as stereotypical misandrists. In the 1980s and 1990s, media representation of these feminists changed, and women came to be “represented as intrepid, choice-making agents” (Banet-Weiser, 2018, p. 153) nearing the turn of the 21st century. The mid-1990s birthed third-wave feminism, who focused on the acceptance of women’s individuality and diversity – including a greater openness and recognition of women of color and men. Around 2012, the fourth wave of feminism commenced, which will be discussed later in this paper.


From International Women’s Day in London (2017)

Postfeminism can come in many forms, but every form still believes that feminism is unnecessary. In her book, Sarah Projansky defines five categories of postfeminist discourses, with the first being linear postfeminism. Linear postfeminism is the progression from pre-feminism to feminism to the end of postfeminism; it is a historical outlining of feminist theory. Projansky (2001) explains that “The construction of linear historical relations between feminism and postfeminism ensures the impossibility of feminism and postfeminism coexisting. Since postfeminism always supplants feminism, feminism logically no longer exists” (p. 67). Because a postfeminist society could only occur ‘after’ feminism has been achieved and obtained, then it is not possible for feminism and postfeminism to exist at the same time.

Contemporary society is currently in the fourth-wave of feminism, which is understanding and counteracting intersectional oppression. This is the belief that women of different races, sexual orientations, and ethnicities experience sexism in their own unique ways. If society is still in a state of feminism, as it is in present-day according to the fourth wave, then feminism has not yet been achieved; society is not in a state of postfeminism. Another subset of postfeminism is called backlash postfeminism, which is the ideology that previous feminist thought has been dominated by self-victimization and seeks to correct it. Both linear and backlash postfeminism shine a negative light on feminism; instead of advocating for an ‘after’ feminism, they fight against feminism.

Equality and choice postfeminism is the third category and differs from the first two by positively representing feminism. It “consists of narratives about feminism’s ‘success’ in achieving gender ‘equity’ and having given women ‘choice,’ particularly with regard to labor and family” (Projansky, 2001, p. 67). Despite this positive representation, however, it suggests that women have a more expansive variety in choice and have no need to fight for equality, stating overall that there is no need for feminism (Projansky, 2001, p. 67).

The fourth category is known as (hetero)sex-positive postfeminism. This category refers to itself as a more modern and progressive alternative to antisex feminism, while also integrating parts of feminism that affirms the independence of women. (Hetero)sex-positive postfeminism promotes individuality and independence within feminism (Projansky, 2001, p. 67). However, it promotes this while still reaffirming women as sexual objects under a patriarchal male gaze. Projansky’s fifth postfeminist category takes the focus off women and puts it on men. According to this category, since women have obtained equality thanks to feminism, “men can be feminists too” (Projansky, 2001, p. 68). Postfeminism is immensely complex topic of study, and these five categories help to clarify and complicate its vast broadness.

Well-known postfeminist scholars include Susan Douglas and Angela McRobbie. McRobbie (2009) developed a process called ‘feminism taken into account,’ which she clarifies in her book as the following:

The kind of feminism which is taken into account in this context is liberal, equal   opportunities feminism, where elsewhere what is invoked more negatively is the radical  feminism concerned with social criticism rather than with progress or improvement in the position of women in an otherwise more or less unaltered social order. (p. 14)

The context McRobbie (2009) is referring to is the “high profile or newsworthy achievements” (p. 14) of women in a variety of employment and media institutions. Also in her book, McRobbie identifies the existence of postfeminism in pop culture by addressing the film Bridget Jones’s Diary (Sharon McGuire, 2001). McRobbie (2009) introduces Bridget Jones as the following:

In her early 30s, living and working in London, [she] is a free agent, single and childless and able to enjoy herself in pubs, bars and restaurants. She is the product of modernity in that she has benefited from those institutions (education) which have loosened the ties of  tradition and community for women, making it possible for them to be dis-embedded and  to re-locate to the city to earn an independent living without shame or danger. (p. 20)

Despite the freedom that Bridget has, she frets throughout the movie about finding a man and getting married and having children. Many of her actions in the film actually work towards gaining a man’s affection and approval. For example, she keeps a diary


Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary

and tracks her calorie intake to watch her weight. Bridget Jones takes place in a postfeminist setting, where Bridget has achieved equality; she has the means to provide for herself and exists as her own entity. However, her quest to ‘better herself’ in order to “become the sort of woman who she thinks will be the kind of woman men want to marry” (McRobbie, 2009, p. 22) means that Bridget is actually still subject to a patriarchal society. Bridget’s belief that she has to change herself to please men proves that society still needs feminism.

Douglas, on the other hand, denounces the term postfeminism because she argues that, instead, the term sexism reinforces the patriarchy and is at the root of inequality between the sexes. Douglas (2014) has coined the term enlightened sexism, which she describes as “feminist in its outward appearance (of course you can be or do anything you want), but sexist in its intent (hold on, girls, only up to a certain point, and not in any way that discomfits men or pushes feminist goals one more centimetre forward)” (p. 37). While postfeminism states that society is past feminism, enlightened sexism attempts to negate feminism. Enlightened sexism recognizes the women’s movement and its accomplishments but uses those accomplishments as justification to “[still] [define] [women] by their appearance and their biological destiny” (Douglas, 2014, p. 37). Through her work on enlightened sexism, Douglas strives to clarify that feminism is still a necessity in this contemporary moment.

A common aspect of postfeminism in popular media culture is the use of the word girls to identify young women. Well-known postfeminist films such as The Princess Diaries and Mean Girls are examples of centralizing girlhood, “fusing empowerment rhetoric with traditionalist identity paradigms” (Tasker and Negra, 2007, p. 18). Girl becomes a broad term, and Tasker and Negra (2007) point out that its use could be to “simply treat women of a variety of ages as girls,” (p. 18) thus demeaning women and taking away their equal stance to men. By referring to women and young women as girls, not only their age but also their meaning and significance becomes diminished and belittled in comparison to men’s; women lose power by being addressed and seen as girls. This lack of equality justifies the continued need for feminism and the nonexistence of postfeminism in this contemporary moment.


Banet-Weiser, S. (2018). Postfeminism and Popular Feminism. Feminist Media Histories, 4(2),   152-156.

Douglas, S. J. (2014). Still living with sexism (after all these years). Soundings, (58), 34-43.

McRobbie, A. (2009). Post-feminism and popular culture: Bridget Jones and the new gender regime. In The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture, and Social Change (pp. 11-23). London, England: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Projansky, S. (2001). The Postfeminist Context. In Watching Rape: Film and Television in Postfeminist Culture (pp. 66-89). New York, NY: New York University Press.

Tasker, Y. & Negra, D. (2007). Feminist Politics and Postfeminist Culture. In Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture (pp. 1-25). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Image Attribution: Image 1: “Renee Zellweger smoking 2” by Nicholas Andrew is in the Public Domain; Image 2: “Fourth Wave” by Garry Knight is licensed under CC BY 2.0; Image 3: “Women’s lib[eration] march from Farrugut Sq[uare] to Layfette [i.e., Lafayette] P[ar]k” by Warren K. Leffler is in the Public Domain.

Written by Hannah Sauer, 2018

Primary Advertising Strategies

Advertisements come in many different shapes and sizes including, classified ads, business-to-business ads, and conspicuous ads which point to specific “advertisements that shape product images and brand-name identities” (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 353).  Vaughn (1979: 27) described advertising as an impersonal, one-way exchange experience.  To make up for this, advertisements make greater use of rational and emotional devices in order to have an effect on the audience.  Every person has a different way of interpreting and processing information.  In addition to diversely comprehending most information, all people feel, think, behave, and react differently than one another.  Analyzing effectiveness of advertisements is strategically important because usually ads have a large amount of information about a product or a service packed into a thirty second video or a poster of some kind.  These strategies are valuable when persuading costumers because they pull on emotional ties and beliefs to get more people to buy their product or service.

There are nine main advertising strategies; Logos, Slogans, Product Placement, Famous Person Testimonial, Plain Folks Pitch, Shop Appeal Approach, Bandwagon Effect, Hidden Fear Appeal, and Irritation Ads.  Using these techniques, ad agencies can create an atmosphere around their product to develop a relationship with the audience.  Most ads give little information about how products are made or the amount in which it costs.  Advertisements rather devote their time in order to “create a mood or tell stories about products without revealing much else” (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 366).

Logos and Slogans are innately related because they both capture the essence of a company or product with little information.  As the industrial revolution and the process of reproducing media began to pick up speed, logos and slogans began to come into play with advertising.  Logos in particular are “graphic symbol[s] that allow the consumer[s] to locate a product, service, place, or company” (Chung & Kirby, 2009: 35).  Comparably, a slogan is a phrase that attempts to sell a product by capturing its essence into words (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 367).

Erika 1

This is an example of Product Placement.  The company Coca Cola paid American Idol so that their product would be shown on millions of televisions twice a week all across the country.

Product placement is a different technique used to capture a consumer’s attention to focus on a particular product in any given television show, movie, or music video.  Any ad agency can purchase spaces so that their goods can appear in these platforms (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 367).  (Figure 1 here) Figure 1 is an example of product placement because the Coke cups are directly facing the camera in order to get the audience’s attention and make them want to buy their product.

Some advertisements have well-known people, most likely celebrities, endorse the product that they are selling in order to influence customers to buy their product.  This is called famous person testimonial.  People who see ads with celebrities in them usually want the product, to be able to relate to the person with the fame (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 366).

Erika 2

This ad uses plain folks pitch by keeping the design simple and it includes people of all sexes and ages.  Using the words “everybody’s drink” stresses the idea that everyone will love the product.

The strategy known as plain-folks pitch associates products and/or services with simplicity.  For example, this technique is best used when talking about how certain products can fit into the lives of ordinary people (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 367). (Figure 2 here)

Another persuasive technique that is used frequently in advertisements is the shop appeal approach.  This method gives the consumer a feeling that using a certain product will maintain or even elevate their status (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 367).

The next two are the bandwagon effect and the hidden fear appeal.  The hidden fear appeal plays on consumers’ insecurities by illustrating that the product being advertised will improve ones’ social acceptability.  The bandwagon effect works in similar ways in that this particular technique indicates that everyone is using a certain product or service.  It relates back to the hidden fear appeal because the term everyone develops feelings of not wanting to be left out (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 367).  (Figure 3 here) The advertisement in Figure 3 is an example of the hidden fear appeal.

Erika 3

This Advertisement in particular develops fear in the parents of children by saying “Why let your children suffer?” at the top of the picture.

The last of the primary advertising strategies is what is known as irritation ads.  This strategy uses annoying and/or obnoxious words and noises to cause the consumer to not only want the product or service, but to recognize it and its ads right away (Campbell, Maritn, & Fabos, 2017: 367).


Campbell, R., Maritn, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Advertising and Commercial Culture. In Media and Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (11th ed., pp. 351-380). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Chung, S., & Kirby, M. S. (2009). Media Literacy Art Education: Logos, culture jamming and Activism. Art Education, 34-39. Retrieved December 3, 2017, from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=818904a0-a011-4fa2-        a640-a371e8ad991f%40sessionmgr120

Vaughn, R. (2000). How Advertising Works: A Planning Model… putting it all together. Advertising & Society Review, 1(1), 27-33. doi:10.1353/asr.2000.0015

Image Attribution: Image #1 ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/hyku/3340748547; Image #2 ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/27398485@N08/3764412937; Image #3 this image is in the Public Domain

Written by Erika Reynolds, 2017


Printing Press

A printing press is a device which aids in printing by transferring ink from one surface to another medium. The first printing press with metallic moveable type was developed amidst the Renaissance by a German inventor named Johannes Gutenberg. Though other methods of printing existed prior to Gutenberg’s press, this invention enabled mass production of books, as it did not require a person copying the words by hand or using other tedious methods.

Gutenberg’s printing press was likely formatted from a papermaking press. It worked by having two types of metal, a hard metal and a soft, striking each other. The hard metal had the shape of a letter, but mirrored so that when it pressed against the soft metal, it created an impression of the letter. Following this, a liquified alloy was poured into the soft metal mold. Once the alloy dried, the letters were formed. The moveable type then mechanically transferred ink to paper using a “wine press screw mechanism” (Alley-Young 2015).

Johannes Gutenberg had the knowledge to create the press as a result of his personal history. Growing up in Mainz, the majority of his father’s family were skilled metalworkers, and Gutenberg followed suit. He began to develop his innovative printing press sometime between 1428 and 1448, when it was officially completed.

tediBy 1452, Gutenberg had borrowed enough money to create the first mass-produced book: the Gutenberg Bible. His two-volume Bible allowed average people to read the word of God, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. There were approximately 180 copies printed at the time and 48 are believed to be intact today. Each Bible was made carefully, beautifully, and expensively. The cost of one book was equivalent to the three times the yearly salary of a clerk at the time.

Gutenberg’s intention was to keep his printing press a secret, but this did not happen. Within approximately 50 years, a press was present in 2,500 European cities. Gutenberg’s device led to the development of books as the first mass medium and a subsequent cultural revolution. This is because the printing press combined three essential elements: it eliminated the necessity of scribes, it sped up the process of duplicating texts, and it made books more affordable as a result of their ability to be produced in higher quantities (Campbell, Martin, and Fabos 2014).

The press had a lasting impact on the world, as it was the beginning of connectivity beyond an immediate location. People now had access to a vast array of information that only continued to expand as books became increasingly inexpensive and common. Following books, there were newspapers, which further contributed to the connectivity. As the printing press continued to evolve, the amount and variety of information available to the common person grew greatly, leading to the modern-day obtainability.

Johannes Gutenberg and his business partners single-handedly created the Print Revolution, and promoted the ideal of individualism. The printing press has impacted many aspects of daily life and contemporary knowledge through his contribution to the world of communications.


Alley-Young, G. P. (2015). Printing Press. Salem Press Encyclopedia. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press.

Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2014). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (6-7). Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Gould, K. (2013). Johannes Gutenberg. Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press.

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Tedi Rollins, 2017

Process School of Communication

In communication and media studies, models of communication guide processes of human interaction. In order to study communications, it is necessary to examine the use of models (Carey, 1982). The process school is a model of communication that is mainly concerned with the efficiency and accuracy of the transmission of messages. A message is defined as whatever the sender intends to put into the message. The process school is mainly concerned with how senders and receivers encode and decode messages but also how transmitters use the channels of media and communication. The process school views communication as the process by which one person affects the behavior or state of mind of another. Followers of the process school believe that intention is a crucial factor (Fiske, 1982). Therefore, if the intention of the sender is not 100% clear to the receiver, the process school views this as a communication failure. If the communication interaction concluded with a failure, the process school also examines in which part that failure would have occurred. The process school draws upon the fields of the social sciences, psychology, and sociology (Fiske, 1982). A direct example of the process school includes the Shannon and Weaver model of communication. The process school directly inspired this model of communication. As seen in the photo below, the Shannon and Weaver model is a simple linear process. The main concern of the Shannon and Weaver model of communication is to develop efficient communication between the sender and receiver (Fiske, 1982).

Karlie 1

The Shannon and Weaver model was developed during the second world war to decipher a plan to decide which channels of communication would be most effective.

Contrary to the process school, there is the semiotic school which, is mainly concernedKarlie 2 with how messages interact with the people that receive them. The semiotic school focuses on semiotics which is the science of signs and meanings as opposed to the process school which focuses on the efficiency of messages. The main study in the semiotics school is of text and culture (Fiske, 1982).  The photo to the right describes the semiotics of social media and can aptly demonstrate the differences between a process school model and a semiotic school model. Another example of a model of communication that differs from the process school is the ritual view of communication. The ritual view of communication focuses on culture and the maintenance of society. Little focus is put on the transmission of messages but on how well messages can construct and maintain a culture. The ritual view is largely inspired from religion and highlights the activities such as the prayer, the chant, and the ceremony (Carey, 1982).

John Fiske, a world-renowned media scholar, outlined the ideas behind the process school. John Fiske serves as an author and a media critic. He mainly focuses on cultural studies, popular culture, media semiotics, and television studies. Fiske has written many books including Introduction to Communication Studies as well as Media Matters. John Fiske was a controversial scholar for his time period and suggested ideals surrounding cultural meaning. Fiske stated that popular culture could serve as a resource for ordinary people, instead of past ideals stating that media and popular culture nullifies individuality. John Fiske recognized the unique and varied backgrounds that audience members originated from and hoped to spread those ideals to other media scholars (Jenkins, 2010).


Carey, J. (2009). Communication as Culture Essays on Media and Society. New York and London: Routledge Classics.

Fiske, J. (1982). Introduction to Communication Studies. London and New York: Routledge Classics.

Jenkins, H. (2010). John Fiske: Now and the Future. Confessions of an ACA-Fan. Retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2010/06/john_fiske_now_and_the_future.html.

Image Attribution: image #1: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International; image #2:  Public Domain.

Written by Karlie Dolan, 2017


Product Placement

Product Placement is defined as the advertising practice of strategically placing products in movies, TV shows, comic books, and video games so that the products appear as part of a story’s set environment (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017). It is used by marketing departments in companies to pair a certain product with a form of media to create a relationship between the form of media and product in the mind of consumers. Examples happen extremely often, with varying levels of success for the companies enacting the product placement. The attraction of product placement to marketing departments is because the showcasing of the brand or product directly connects to the viewers, rather than scenarios like a commercial on television or radio where the viewer can change the channel or fast forward through the commercial. There are four types of product placement: classic placement, corporate placement, evocative placement, and stealth placement (Kramolis, Drabovka, 2012). Classic placement is the original product placement technique which is somewhat subtle, corporate placement uses the brand rather than a specific product, evocative placement is discreet and the brand or product appears but is not explicitly mentioned, and stealth placement is highly discreet but also usually perfectly integrated into the scene giving the placement a feel of authenticity (Kramolis, Drabovka, 2012).

Product Placement / Due Date

For educational use only.

This is a screengrab from the movie Due Date with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, where the two actors get into a car crash and in the slow-motion depiction of the car flipping over you see very deliberately a bag of Bugels and a box of Dunkin Donuts stay on the screen for a second or two as the car tumbles and wrecks. The brand Dunkin Donuts is referenced multiple times in the movie and Dunkin Donuts also paid to have product placement in many other films that same year. Some TV shows with the highest usage of product placement in 2011 were American Idol, with 577 occurrences of product placement in 39 episodes that year, The Biggest Loser, with 533 uses of product placement over 34 episodes, and Celebrity Apprentice, with 391 product place advertisements in just 12 episodes (Weinberger & O’Dell, 2012).

Product Placement and Fair Use

For educational use only.

This video is done by a Yotuber named Lindsay Ellis, who spent time working at an agency identifying and encouraging regular viewers to also notice product placement within tv shows. She uses great examples and breaks down the intricacies of product placement from the inside, giving regular people a perspective they would have otherwise lacked. This video would be greatly beneficial in educating students on how to spot product placement so as to be a more aware consumer.

While product placement seems like an effective strategy for marketing departments and harmless to viewers, there are criticism of the effects product placement can have. Some groups like the Commercial Alert organization which fights for disclosure of all product placement arrangements and notification of these product placements before their time on screen (commercialalert.org, 2018). This group advocates for people to know when they are being advertised to and to avoid advertisements geared towards children. Another general criticism is that it can stagnate creativity in the writing of shows or films because a certain product placement advertisement must be included. Because of the influence of subliminal marketing within product placement, viewers and some creators of product placement advertisements are worried about the ethics behind this form of advertising.





Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & culture: Mass communication in a digital age. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, Macmillan Learning.

Commercial Alert – Protecting communities from commercialism. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://commercialalert.org/

Ellis, L. (2018, November 30). Retrieved December 06, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNuGdv536mM

Kramolis, J., & Drabkova, M. (2012). Types, Forms and Major Product Categories of Product Placement in the Czech Republic. Journal of Eastern Europe Research in Business & Economics, 1-11. doi:10.5171/2012.441984

Ralpherson, G. (2015, December 25). Retrieved December 06, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXPFPzd8b6Q

Weinberger, J., & O’Dell, J. (2012, January 07). Here Are The 10 Primetime TV Shows With The Most Product Placement. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/these-10-primetime-tv-shows-most-product-placement-2012-1



Written by Conner Cotting, 2018

Production (Film)

Production has come along way since the early 1900’s. In the 1930’s movie production had become a booming business, the studios that promoted and exhibited these films controlled them.  Making people that owned these studios extremely rich. This was completely shutdown in 1948, after a series of court appeals, the Supreme Court ruled against the film industry in what is commonly known as the Paramount decision, forcing these big studios that control all aspects of the industry to divest themselves of their theatres (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 221).  Basically making it illegal to control more than two aspects of the industry.

Film production is everything involved in making a movie from securing the script and actors to raising money and actually filming (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 235). When watching a movie no matter the size large-scale blockbuster, to local movie tavern shorts there was a lot of work put in that is probably taken for granted by the viewer. There are various steps that go into production but they can be easily categorized. There are three parts to production, preproduction stage, production stage, and postproduction stage.  All three work hand in hand to make the best quality movie, and are vital to making a successful film.

Although “production” is involved with the entire process breaking it down into three parts is essential. Starting with preproduction, “it designates the phase when a project is in development and before the cameras roll” (Corrigan, White, 21). At this point of “production” all decisions are made about the cast, the script, the amount of money needed, and whether any changes need to be made before they start physically filming the movie. In other words this the outline and blueprint to the movie to come.


The production phase is exactly what it sounds like. Most think that this is where the recording is done. You are correct but there is more to this phase than the weeks and or months it takes to record the movie based on budget and other factors. One of the most important people in this part of the process is the director.  “The reality of production varies greatly with the scale of the film and its budget; but the director, who has often been involved in all of the creative phases of preproduction must now work with the actors any other production personnel”(Corrigan, White, 26). Mostly the director works with the person behind the camera to form more or less the creative vision for whatever is being filmed.

Last but not least there is postproduction, which is said to be the most important part of film production. “Some of the most important aspects of a finished film, including editing, sound, and visual effects, are achieved after the principal photography is completed and the production phase is over” (Corrigan, White, 28). That being said in this part of the process upon completion you can see an almost completely different film then what the raw film originally showed especially with technological advances in today’s production industry.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., Fabos, B. (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (11th ed.). New York, NY: Bedford Books St Martins.

Corrigan, T., White, P. (2017). Film Experience: an Introduction. (3rd ed.) Bedford Books St Martins.

Image Attribution: By United States Air Force Lookout Mountain Laboratory; Public Domain

Written by Joseph Shelton, 2017

Production Studies

Production studies is a term that developed during the rediscovery of the mass communication. In the 1970s, some social and political scholars focused on the mass communicator and their organization and industries. In the decades since this era of rediscovery, substantial research effort has been devoted to understanding how professional mass communicators, their organizations, and industries produce media content and, thereby, produce a sociopolitical impact of some sort. (Whitney & Ettema, 2003)

Production studies is important for different groups of individuals, especially journalists. Its importance is derived from the fact that it is composed from a lot of techniques that need to be analyzed to fit the intended audiences (Davies, 2018). This means that each technique applied by a journalist will impact a reader or an audience in a positive or negative way. For example, the introduction part of a story on a newspaper will Jingjia 1determine whether a reader will read the whole newspaper or not. Production studies enable individuals to understand new rules and regulations in the industry (Davies, 2018). The continuous changes in technology have highly impacted production studies. For example, newspapers are not read as much as they were read before. Through production studies, all these changes and how they impact the audiences are understood. Production studies analyze the rules for each type of media (Davies, 2018). For example, there are rules for television as well as newspapers. It is also important that journalists understand the type of audiences that they deal with and how they are impacted by the different forms of media. For example, children prefer the use of television as opposed to the use of newspapers.

Production studies can be analyzed under three different levels. It can be analyzed under individual level (Whitney & Ettema, 2003). In production, each individual is tasked with a specific responsibility that must be accomplished before production is complete. For example, if a journalist practices biasness in an article, the editor will have to cut off such an article. The attitudes of individuals play an important role in ensuring effective Jingja 2production. Production studies can be analyzed at the organizational level (Whitney & Ettema, 2003). An organization must develop effective communication strategies that are aimed at doing away with factors such as biasness. For example, an editor must have the ability to choose the best articles that would be published on a newspaper. An organization must ensure that the production team performs highly so that the audience is impressed. Production studies can also be analyzed at the institution level (Whitney & Ettema, 2003). In this case, an institution can refer to a society or the economy. The work of production companies must be in line with the goals of the economy. It means that a production company cannot function effectively if its goals are against those that are set by the economy.

The audience is the most important aspect in production studies. Failure to consider the audience renders these studies irrelevant and of no use to the production comapnies. Interpretation of information is one factor that links audiences to production (Mayer, 2016). In the production of a newspaper article, there are different targeted audiences such as children, women, housewives, and the working population among others. A production company has the duty of ensuring all these audiences are taken care of. For example, there must be an article on how workers’ rights have been denied in a country and ways of solving the problem. Therefore, the audiences and the production companies are important in this industry. Communication between the audiences and production companies can go a long way in improving the content that is displayed to the public (Mayer, 2016). The audience can show their dissatisfaction at a newspaper article and require a production company to revisit a given story. The production company can ask the audiences to suggest interesting topics that it should write about in the next issue. Production companies must sort all these audiences by ensuring that they receive all kinds of information irrespective of their location or knowledge.


Davies, M., M. (2018). Production studies. Critical Studies in Television 1(1).

Mayer, V. (2016). The places where audience studies and production studies meet. Television and New Media 17(8); 706-718.

Whitney, C., & Ettema, J., S. (2003). Media production: individuals, organizations, institutions. New Jersey: Blackwell Publishing.

Image Attribution: The first image used in this post is in the Public Domain. The second image made by author

Written by Jingjia Zhang, 2018



Propaganda is any type of mass communication strategically placed in order to gain public support for an issue, program, or policy. It includes, but is not limited to, media such as advertising or publicity. (Campbell et al, 2017). Propaganda has traditionally been used by governments in order to rally people behind political agendas that in some cases might be unpopular or controversial, such as a nation’s war effort.  It can also be used by opposing sides during wartime to undermine the opposition and garner support for the home nation. For example, Figure 1 is a publicity poster created in 1941 by the UnitedStates Navy during World

Jake 1

Figure 1

War II which shows Japan, represented as the terrible snake, being bombed by the stealthy eagle representing the United States.

The purpose of propaganda is to influence individual actions or behavior. Weiss (2009) explains this purpose as an agenda-setting theory in which media, via propaganda, tells people not necessarily what to think, but rather what to think about. An argument can be made that media serves the interests of those in power by determining what news coverage to select and how to promote it, making the media a propaganda appendage of the government in power. An example of this is political propaganda during the Vietnam War that was initiated by the government and disseminated by the media in an attempt to sway public opinion in favor of the war. (Danesi, 2013).

Initially propaganda gained attention on a mass scale during World War I.  Lasswell (1980) considered the impact that propaganda had on the war front, particularly including United States President Woodrow Wilson’s strategies in spreading unity at home and discord abroad. For example, propaganda was used as a massive recruiting tool, rallying civilians to enlist for combat. Additionally, propaganda was used a political tool to sway public opinion in favor of war in order to avoid political unrest. According to Lasswell, propaganda was so influential in World War I that modern wars must now be fought on three separate fronts: military, economic, and propaganda.  Lasswell even goes so far as to conclude that propaganda “is one of the most important instrumentalities in the modern world.” (Lasswell, 1980: 227).  In 1927, Propaganda Technique in WWI was published, suggesting that propaganda directly effects people’s politics, family relations, and their general outlooks or behavior. (Danesi, 2013). This behavioral influence by propaganda could be likened to the way a hypodermic needle affects the human body.

A contrary position is that that propaganda does not influence a person’s behavior or opinions. This position is adhered to proponents of the “limited effects theory,” which initially gained popularity in the 1930s.  Baran and Davis (1995) explained that contrary to popular beliefs, most people are not directly influenced by propaganda.  Rather, adults are sheltered by any kind of direct manipulation by social institutions such as friends, families, or coworkers.  By the time people reach adulthood they already have strongly held beliefs and convictions that propaganda is not likely to change. Ideologies such as political beliefs or moral standards are firmly rooted within a person, and only a very small percentage of people will be directly influenced by propaganda. The limited effects theory represented a major shift in thinking about propaganda from the early 1900s immediately following World War I.

Jake 2

Figure 2

In modern times, propaganda is still actively used by governments to promote their political agendas, sometimes even to the exclusion of competing viewpoints. Consider Figure 2, which was a propaganda poster found in a primary school in North Korea. It depicts young North Korean children who are armed and in the military actively firing upon and destroying the United States. Ma (2016) specifically focuses on the authoritarian governments in North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union. These regimes actively spread propaganda by closely censoring any type of media that might be considered unfavorable to the regime.  However, these governments are now facing serious challenges to their control of anti-authoritarian propaganda due to modern advances in technology.  The Internet in particular has proven a serious threat to governmental censorship of propaganda because “anybody with some Internet savvy can probably go over the ‘Great Firewall’ to access whatever they want.” (Ma 2016: 48).  Therefore, technology makes propaganda even more accessible than it was during World War I. It is highly likely that with the rapid increase of technology in a digital age, the issue of how to define propaganda and assess its impacts on individuals and society will need to be revisited frequently.


Baran, S. J. & Davis, D.K. (1995) Mass communication theory: foundations, ferment, and future.  Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Campbell, R., Martin, C.R. & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & culture: mass communication in a digital age 11th edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Danesi, M. (2013). Media effects. In Encyclopedia of Media and Communication. (pp. 429- 434). Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Lasswell, H.D. (1980). On political sociology. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

Ma, V. (2016). Propaganda and censorship. Harvard International Review, 37(2), 46-50. doi: 114852071.

Weiss, D. (2009). Agenda-setting theory. In Encyclopedia of Communication Theory. (pp.32- 33). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Image Attributions: The first image used in this post is in the Public Domain. The second image used in the post is by (Stephan) and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Written by Jake Brown, 2018.

Public Sphere

sophie 1In 1964, German philosopher Jürgen Habermas defined the public sphere as “a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed” (Habermas, 1974, p. 51). Apart from this, he states that public sphere is the bridge that connects society and state (Soules, 2007). Because of the public sphere, individuals can congregate, decide what they need from the state, and then directly express the concerns to the state. The concept of the public sphere evolved in Europe during the 18th Century. During this time the bourgeois, which consisted of white males, was the creator of public opinion (Habermas, 1974, p. 51).

Since 1964, there have been a numerous amount of critiques on Habermas’ explanation of the public sphere. In his explanation, Habermas writes that the public sphere can be accessed by any and all individuals that wish to be a part of it (Fraser, 1990, p.63). The idea of equality amongst all people in the public sphere was and is not true. When writing about Habermas’ explanation of the public sphere and the bourgeois, theorist Nancy Fraser states “Women of all classes and ethnicities were excluded from official political participation precisely on the basis of ascribed gender status” (Fraser, 1990, p.63). Apart from the division of gender, people of different races were not given the opportunity to voice their concerns in the public sphere as well (Fraser, 1990, p.63).

Fraser also writes about the idea of “counterpublics” (Budarick, 2016, p.12). Counterpublics are created by a group of people who are deemed as a “minority” in their society (Budarick, 2016, p.12). They can be described as “relatively independent publics within which whey [minority groups] are able to speak their own language and, through deliberation, construct their own terms and articulate their own desires and needs” (Budarick, 2016, p.12).  Counterpublics are created as a reaction to minority groups being excluded from the dominant public sphere that is rooted in patriarchy and white supremacy (Fraser, 1990, p.67).

In the 20th century, a feminist counterpublic emerged. In this counterpublic there were feminist publishing companies, conventions, research centers, academic programs, and local meeting places (Fraser, 1990, p.67). Fraser states that due to the feminist counterpulic, women have invented “new terms for describing social reality, including ‘sexism,’ ‘the double shift,’ ‘sexual harassment,’ ‘marital,’ ‘date,’ and ‘acquaintance rape.’”  The creation of the feminist counterpublic gave women the opportunity to voice their needs to the state despite their “disadvantage in official public spheres” (Fraser, 1990, p.67)

sophie 2Another, more modern example of a counterpublic is the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter aspires to “build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes” (“About,” n.d.). The counterpublic was created in 2013 due to the acquittal of the murderer of a black, unarmed teenage boy (“Herstory,” n.d.). The movement is considered a counterpublic because the opinion of the public sphere is that there is not a problem in the way black citizens are treated by government forces. The counterpublic’s views, which oppose from those of the public sphere, are what make the Black Lives Matter movement so influential. Like the feminist counterpublic, the Black Lives Matter movement gives a minority group the opportunity to vocalize their needs to the state.


About. (n.d.). Retrieved from Black Lives Matter website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/

Budarick, J. (2016). The elasticity of the public sphere: Expansion, contradiction, and ‘other’ media. In M. Griffiths & K. Barbour (Eds.), Making Publics, Making Places (pp. 9-26). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.20851/j.ctt1t304qd.7

Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, 25/26, 56-80. https://doi.org/10.2307/466240

Habermas, J. (1974). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article (1964). New German Critique, 49-55. https://doi.org/10.2307/487737

Herstory. (n.d.). Retrieved from Black Lives Matter website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/herstory/

Soules, M., Dr. (2007). Jürgen Habermas And The Public Sphere. Retrieved from Media-Studies.ca website: http://www.media-studies.ca/articles/habermas.htm

Image Attribution: Image #1: this image t is in the Public Domain; Image #2: “Dimilitarize the Police, Black Lives Matter” by Johnny Silvercloud is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Written by Sophie Polovoy, 2017

Queer Media Studies

Queer media studies are the lens of queer principles and politics to researching media texts, processes, industries, and sociocultural constructions. It is methodologically and theoretically diverse. Specific psychological, political, and cultural codes have elevated heterosexuality to the status of a sexual “given”. Those codes include the fact that initially heterosexuality was used to describe behaviors we may consider today as “bisexual” (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). The term heterosexual lost its negative, pathological meaning far quicker than homosexual did and by the middle of the twentieth century, heterosexual sex outside of marriage was seen as normal (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). Therefore, those codes are created, recreated, and reinforced by mainstream hegemonic media. Exposing the codes and the assumptions they are built on helps queer media studies “undo” heterosexuality as the given sexual norm in media.

Queer media gives impact through giving representation: extends the power, gives cultural presence, and gives a voice to sexually marginalized groups. It provides perspective by focusing on plurality of sexual codes operating in media products without privileging heterosexuality as natural or authoritative. It gives empowerment through allowing a disenfranchised population to reclaim identity that hegemonic heterosexuality demonized and disregarded.

The taxonomy of queer media, or what is considered to be queer media, can be broken up into four parts: queer issues, queer creators, queer characters, and queer spectatorship.

Film that challenges dominant assumptions about gender and sexuality (Benshoff & Griffin 2006) would be considered to be tackling queer issues and thus would be considered queer media. An example of film regarding queer issues, although being a satirical take, would be The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Benshoff & Griffin 2009). In the film, Dr. Frank N. Furter, a “sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania,” constructs and brings to life a blonde muscle-man for his own sexual pleasure (Benshoff & Griffin 2009).

mattAnother way a film may considered queer is if it is either written, directed, or produced by queer people or perhaps when they star lesbian, gay, or otherwise queer actors (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). In many cases queer filmmakers can and do inflect a queer sensibility into their work, even when gay and lesbian characters are not present (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). Thus, a supposedly “straight” film made by a queer filmmaker might be considered a queer film (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). An example of this would be the movie Hairspray which was created by John Waters, a gay man (pictured to the right) (MediaSmarts).

Films that showcase queer characters that are not built from stereotypes and fully integrated as key characters would be considered queer media. In Hollywood’s early years, from the 1890s to the 1930s, homosexuality was often presented as an object of ridicule and laughter (MediaSmarts). From the 1930s to the 1950s, religious and women’s groups criticized Hollywood films for contributing to immorality (MediaSmarts). As a result, the industry introduced the Hayes Code, a system of self-censorship that affected the portrayal of homosexuality. This strict code was loosened in the 1960s and 1970s, which also saw the dawn of the women’s and gay rights movements (MediaSmarts). While gays and lesbians were becoming more visible in every day life, film was becoming increasingly homophobic (MediaSmarts). Since the 1990s, Hollywood has improved its portrayal of gay and lesbian characters. The popularity of films such as Philadelphia, and The Birdcage demonstrates that audiences can and do enjoy films with gay and lesbian characters (Media Smarts). Despite these advances, however, the industry is still cautious in its portrayals of gay themes, characters, and experiences (MediaSmarts).

Another way of defining queer film is one that centers on the issues of spectatorship (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). According to this model, a queer film is one that is viewed by lesbian, gay, or otherwise queer spectators (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). In many cases, lesbians, gay men, and other queers experience films differently than do straight viewers (Benshoff & Griffin 2006). A recent example of queer spectatorship would be the film Top Gun, a robust military action film with heterosexual characters, that has become a queer cult film because of its incessant beef-cake, suggestive word play, and intentional homosocial bonding (Benshoff & Griffin 2006).


Benshoff, H. M., & Griffin, S. (2006). Queer images: a history of gay and lesbian film in      America. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.

Benshoff, H. M., & Griffin, S. (2009). America on film: representing race, class, gender, and sexuality at the movies. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

MediaSmarts. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2017, from http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/media-issues/diversity-media/queer-representation/queer-representation-film-television

Image Attribution: “John Waters” by PEN America licensed under CC BY 2.0

Written by Matthew Underwood, 2017

Radio Act of 1927

The Radio Act of 1927, which began as the Dill White Bill, was passed on February 18, 1927 and signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge on February 23, 1927. It is Public Law Number 632 by the 69th Congress. The law constructed the Federal Radio Rachel 1Commission (FRC), which was charged with regulating radio. In doing this, the act superseded the Radio Act of 1912, which had previously given the Secretary of Commerce and Labor regulatory powers over radio communication. The Radio Act of 1927 stands repealed now due to the Communications Act of 1934, which replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Prior to the enactment of the Radio Act of 1927, the Department of Commerce regulated radio communication under the authority of the Radio Act of 1912. However, the Radio Act of 1912 did not allow the Department of Commerce to regulate the power or hours of radio transmission, withhold radio licenses, nor regulate or allocate radio frequencies. Though the Department of Commerce attempted to change that through litigation, a district court ruled in Hoover v. Intercity Radio Company that the Secretary of Commerce and Labor did not have the power to Rachel 2deny broadcasting licenses to anyone. For that reason, the radio waves went largely unregulated. Thus, radio frequencies were becoming increasingly crowded as unregulated stations attempted to be broadcasted on too few frequencies, which interfered with station reception. Therefore, the Radio Act of 1927 was passed to reinstitute order to the world of radio that had become so chaotic under the previous law.

The Radio Act of 1927 had four major impacts. First, as previously stated, it created the Federal Radio Commission, comprised of five commissioners, appointed by the President, from five geographic zones in the nation. In so doing, the act removed regulatory authority from the Department of Commerce and the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, transferring it to the new regulatory agency. Second, the act gave the FRC the authority to grant and deny licenses and assign frequencies and power levels for each licensee. The Davis Amendment to the act mandated that the FRC ensure that the allocation of radio frequencies, licenses, times of operation, station wattage, and wavelength be equally distributed across the designated geographic zones that the commissioners represented—irrespective of the fact that some geographic zones were more populous than others. Third, the act created the “public interest standard.” This standard is based on the belief that the public at large owns the radio spectrum, and that individuals are merely granted the authority, through licensing, to use a portion of the radio spectrum via radio frequencies. Thus, those who are granted a license must agree to serve the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” of the community in which they are licensed. Fourth, the act ensured that radio was a form of expression and was therefore protected by First Amendment rights. Due to its protected status, the Commission could not censor programming, but the content of radio programming could not contain “obscene, indecent, or profane language.” In practice, however, the Commission could take into consideration programming when renewing licenses, and their ability to take away a broadcaster’s license enabled them to control content to some degree. The Commission was also given the power to revoke licenses and fine stations or individuals for violations of the Radio Act of 1927.

The act only vaguely mentioned radio networks, giving the Commission only the “authority to make special regulations applicable to stations engaged in chain broadcasting” but no further regulatory abilities there. Additionally, the act did not authorize the FRC to make any rules regarding advertising except that advertisers must identify themselves.

For a full text version of the act, click here.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media and Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Davis, W. J. (1927).  The Radio Act of 1927. Virginia Law Review, 13(8), 611-618. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1065450.pdfrefreqid=excelsior:1dedf25f2703a811e8fd833d424226cc

Peck, L. A. (2008). Radio Act of 1927. In Encyclopedia of American Journalism. (Vol. 1 pp.159). London and New York: Routledge.

Sterling, C. H. & Skretvedt R. Radio. In Encyclopedia Brittanica online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/radio

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the public domain

Written by Rachel Martinez, 2018.

The Repressive Hypothesis

A frequent topic of evasion is sex, simply because it is considered too taboo to talk about in everyday conversation.  The rare time sex is freely mentioned is in the media, where it is frequently assigned a negative connotation.  However,  it is never thoroughly explained in the media and mostly just thrown into the mix as a method of sale.  In recent years discourse surrounding the idea of sex has started to become more common.  Nevertheless, when sex is brought up in conversation, it is mainly to accomplish two goals: to convince people to fear sex in general, and that pleasure is not the point of sex.  Consequently, people who find themselves comfortable with the subject of, or find pleasure in, sex are usually the ones denormalized and repressed in society.

To fully understand why society is so sexually repressed Michel Foucault, author of The History of Sexuality Volume Ⅰ: An Introduction, explains the meaning of his repressive hypothesis.  This term is used to describe the change in how people and communities talk about sex throughout history.  Foucault’s theory of the repressive hypothesis was developed to help society recognize that this repressing discourse about sex is a way to maintain a capitalist society, keeping docile bodies always available to work and make money.  By definition,  his hypothesis shows that the use of biopower, self-surveillance, and repressive identification promotes the reign of an intensified capitalistic economic system that has been forced upon society.

Historically, sex was not a sensitive topic and that there “was a period when bodies ‘made a display of themselves’” (Foucault, 1978, pg. 3).  In the seventeenth century there was little shame attached to sexual acts and discourse surrounding sex.  Moving into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, ideals and standards changed in relation to sex and sexuality.  Discourse surrounding sex became more regulated, and kept within the home and between two married adults focused on the exclusive intention of reproduction (Foucault, 1978,  pg.4).

Aside from mostly married couples, no one else was having or talking about sex publicly.  Sex was and still is censored in contemporary culture, keeping children and others ignorant, therefore normalizing the repressed expressions of sex.  Foucault claims that, repression operated as a sentence to disappear, but also as an injunction to silence, an affirmation of nonexistence, and, by implication, an admission that there was nothing to say about such things, nothing to see, and nothing to know (Foucault, 1978,  pg.4).

He describes conversations having to do with sex, as almost non-existent because everyone was silenced into submission.  People who did not fall trap into the repression of sexuality, also known as ‘the other victorians,’ were forced into silence by being admitted to “places of tolerance” (Foucault, 1978, pg.4). These people were not afraid to step outside of the constraints and habitual hypocrisy within today’s society.  The way society works is based on power that is exercised through disciplinary institutions such as hospitals, schools, and prisons. Thus, the act of sexual repression gives opportunity to authority to dominate over docile bodies is termed by Foucault as biopower.  He defines biopower to be literally, power over the body, and in this case, multiple bodies within a society.  In order for this technique of power to be optimized, these bodies need to be both fully available and docile so that it is easier to take control.

Jen Pylypa, who is focused on the concept of medical anthropology, uses Foucault’s work and develops it even further by giving specific examples of how biopower exists in the world today.  Pylypa focuses on personal subjugation of the body and how people conform to and force themselves to participate in daily practices of constant self regulation and the need to conform to the norms of a capitalist society.  She states, “[i]ndividuals thus voluntarily control themselves by self-imposing conformity to cultural norms through self-surveillance and self-disciplinary practices” (Pylypa, 1998, pgs. 21-22).  People being controlled within a society are usually self-servailing themselves in order to fit into a particular norm, in order to save face.  She builds on Foucault’s ideas saying that because of the current capitalist society, people will always manage themselves to fit the norm and make sure not to deviate from social authority.

This can be seen in many different parts of the technological world that contemporary society has become.  Especially with the ideals of what to do, and what not to do within


This photo describes the hegemonic construction of gendered approaches to intimacy and emotion and the ways in which people filter themselves through social media platforms.

the realm of online dating sites.  People who use these types of of sites tend to embellish themselves to make it as though they can fit within the ‘norm’ of society.  In a capitalist society, it is important that people fall trap into the deep hole that is paying for internet services.  The businesses intimates that it is a place where self-servailers can put their whole life out there, when really people only put out what is ‘supposed’ to be scene.

Self-surveillance  is particularly seen in places like gyms and fitness centers as well.  These place advertise that it is important to have a sexy body.  They also represent the idea that being fit and healthy is vital to having a complete and happy life, when in fact they are just trying to expose the people who do not fit the norm.  Gyms and fitness centers end up having control over bodies because they are making people think that they are not fitting into society and having them pay economically to fulfill this achievable goal.  By making


This photo shows an example of what the ‘perfect’ gym body is supposed to look like and what fitness centers will promise if you pay their fee.

people feel like they are inferior, the corporations have gained the power and used it to pry more money out of individuals and keep them distracted from the repressive world that they live in.

Biopower allows for the control over the people.  It is vital to a capitalist society that they can satisfy the work imperative and create economic gain for themselves and businesses within the society.  Susan Bordo, talks about this when dealing with dynamics of feminist ideals.  Women today have become more focused on keeping up with the latest trend to stay with the ever-changing definition of satisfaction.  She asserts that, “the discipline and normalization of the female body… has to be acknowledged as an amazingly durable and flexible strategy of social control” (Bordo, 1989, pg. 14).  The obsession that women have with their appearances through diet, makeup, and clothing are ways that Foucault’s definition of docile bodies is seen in the real world.

Makeup tutorials and shows such as “What Not To Wear,” a show where a person literally tells someone that they are not good enough, are other examples of how Foucault’s hypothesis is represented in real life.  These productions are only showed on platforms for people’s own selfish economic gain.  Viewers are sucked into trying to be a part of a group and not focused on the fact that they are being forced into a society where only few options are accepted. This causes much confusion because we are made to think that there are many options when only few are actually thought of to be appropriate.


Stacy London is a fashion consultant/co-host of a reality TV show called What Not to Wear, which features her using her power as a reality star to convince people that they need to buy into the capitalist world.

Products and advertising techniques that purposefully point out women’s flaws, show the exploitation of an ignorant people, caught up in the binds of social cement.  After a while, people become accustomed to being ‘appropriate’, which causes them to no longer think that they are being repressed, when in fact they have always been.  The more docile the bodies, the less these multi-million dollar companies have to work to achieve economic fortunes.

Although Foucault’s repressive hypothesis is grounded on the main idea that oppressed sexuality is a way to gain power over docile bodies, it is also a way to determine how we as humans are cultured into society and represented by each other.  When discourse surrounding sex or sexuality is intentionally withheld, people remain clueless that conversations about sex and individual representation is being repressed and subjugated by capitalistic authority.

Unfortunately, Foucault claims that there is no way out of this repressive system.  As long as there are jobs that benefit people economically, then there will be no point in things that constitute some sort of pleasure.  A repressive lifestyle produces biopower, power over the bodies, because people are working and gaining money and using the money to fit into the norms of society.  Capitalist authority allows people to focus on work instead of pleasure, and money instead of self.  If most groups censor information like sexuality, consequently it will not be brought up in discourse, creating a accessible pathway for capitalism and biopower to manifest control over multiple bodies at once.


Foucault, M. (1990). The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction (Vol. 1). New York: Vintage Books.

Jaggar, A. M., & Bordo, S. (1992). Gender/body/knowledge: Feminist reconstructions of being and knowing. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Pylypa, J. (n.d.). Power and Bodily Practice: Applying the Work of Foucault … Retrieved May 6, 20118, from https://www.bing.com/cr?IG=EF76AF5D01D24B15AAB9EEF9543481BC&CID=03AC989E54456AA03AAB937755EA6BCD&rd=1&h=SNvqxYWFoW716CoOiPVWKa-3AJOeSgRULnx4kJxQPtQ&v=1&r=https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/arizanthro/article/viewFile/18504/18155&p=DevEx.LB.1,5069.1

Image Attribution: Image I Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0); Image 2 Attribution- CC0 Public Domain; Image 3 Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Written by Erika Reynolds, 2018



Ritual View of Communication


William Shakespeare is an excellent example of ritual view of communication. He dramatized events that took place, using news from that time to portray a different view of the information that brings people together.

Ritual view of communication, while typically thought of as “archaic,” is a way of communicating and analyzing various aspects of communication through a sacred, religious way. It essentially derives from a view of religion that incorporates sermons and highlights the role of prayer in the construction of certain media (Carey, 2009: 15). Ritual views refer to the original forms of communication in a sense that it brought togetherness amongst people. When we imagine the ancient ways of conversing, we imagine our ancestors exchanging news via word of mouth rather than the mass forms of media production prevalent in today’s era. This is the original way of communicating that ritual view is focusing on.

To further this ancient view, Emile Durkheim believes that ritual views trace the heritage of communication. It is said that ritualistic views are a “projection of the ideals created by the community” (Durkheim, 2012: 95), meaning the way we once communicated was via projection of our ideas in a social formation. This can be translated in a tangible sense via symbolism, through dance, plays, architecture – anything that embodies a sense of communication. This type of communicating is not to be mistaken for new information, it is simply confirmation of what the world already knows, and by extension, what the individual is already familiar with. Ritual views are not made to alter someone’s attitudes or their knowledge of the matter, it is just to imply a social order.

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James W. Carey

James W. Carey, an important member of the communications world, was the first to introduce this point of view as an actual theory. He took the ancient terms of communication brought about by our ancestors, as well as by Durkheim, and pieced it into a conceivable idea. His definition, widely used by experts today, defines ritual view of communication as “communication linked to terms such as ‘sharing’, ‘participation’, ’association’, ’fellowship’, and ‘the possession of a common faith’” (Carey, 2009: 15). Carey explains the idea of communication in a ritual sense as a religious, sacred ceremony meant to bring people together rather than an extension of information (Carey, 2009: 15). Media under a ritualistic view will be dramatized; it is more so an experience rather than an exchanging of actual events. It is displayed as a sort of art form and is meant to promote togetherness amongst a community in a dramatic focus of the world.

While ritual view is formed off of ancient basis, it is still comparable to modern forms of communication. As far as social media goes, Twitter is a popular source of information exchange. In a ritualistic sense, Twitter is a dramatized version of the news and the world that we live in. It draws people together with dramatic versions of information, hence, a ritual view of communication (Bishop, 2016). This way of viewing brings the world together through retweets and comments in a virtual sense.

Despite the antiquated nature of the ritual view of communication, it’s still very easy to see the ways in which modern communication can be traced back to this more traditional manner of exchanging information. With social media, entertainment news television, and even classical forms of entertainment, such as stage plays, dramatized versions of communication continue to provide social guidelines, rather than new knowledge, in a sacred manner.


Bishop, A. (2016, September 14). Transmission and Ritual Communication. Retrieved December 01, 2017, from https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/digitalcombishop/?p=244

Carey, J. W. (2009). Communication as culture: essays on media and society. Rev. ed.: Routledge (15-16).

Durkheim & Swain, J. W. (2012). The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (95). Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino Publishing

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the Public Domain.

Written by April Jones, 2017

Selective Perception Theory

Selective perception theory, also known as selective exposure, is the theory that an audience’s interpretation of media is dependent on their personal beliefs. The public willingly chooses to consume media that aligns with their principals. If they consume media that does not reflect their ideas, the audience will view and construe the medium’s content in a frame that supports their original ideals. In this way, every piece of content portrayed in a medium will be placed in an agreeable stance with the viewer’s belief or be ignored.

tamia 1This theory was originally established by Paul Lazarsfeld under the Bureau of Applied Social Research in the Columbia School. Lazarsfeld was an American sociologist who wrote The People’s Choice in 1948, a book on how voters determine their presidential candidate. Co-authored with Bernard Berelson, Lazarsfeld claimed that the media has little influence over the public’s opinion in voting (Danesi 2013). When a person views media content, only the ideas that fit preconceptions are entertained, while counter-claims are disregarded. Lazarsfeld’s and Elihu Katz’s research in 1955 focused on if and to what extent can a medium’s content about a candidate change the beliefs of a voter. In the end, it was discovered that viewers supported the political party information that fit their previously-held ideals. These results showed that a person’s interpretation of media content is based around the values of their social class or group (Danesi 2013).

Hadley Cantril also had a similar concept. In his minimal-effects model, Cantril established selective exposure and selective retention with controlled experiments and surveys. Selective retention is the concept of people retaining messages that confirm their previously-held attitudes. In this way, minimal-effect researchers also believed that mass media reinforces preconceptions, instead of altering or forming new ones (Campbell 2017).

In the 21st century, this phenomenon of selective perception impacting media interpretation is still present. In 2018, Lauren Feldman and other professors studied selectivity in the case of choosing how to consume media: the news versus regular entertainment. In order to judge a person’s engagement in politics-oriented news, Feldman and colleagues developed two layers of selectivity, one being partisan selectivity. Partisan selectivity is the concept of people preferring messages that support their preconceptions and beliefs, which is referred to as pro-attitudinal content, over ideas that conflict their personal ethics, known as counter-attitudinal messages (Feldman 2018).

When choosing news over entertainment, citizens who choose news consume content that is already similar to their own conclusions. This is partly due to the fact that it requires less effort to consume ideals that match preconceptions than to cognitively interpret and sift through counter-attitudinal messages (Feldman 2018). Moreover, when choosing news, the public will view issues that relate to their own personal concerns. A simple example of such would be a marine biologist choosing to watch a news report about influxes in the crab population off the North-eastern coast. Therefore, selective exposure is seen when audiences choose to consume media content that is homogenous to their own principles.

Feldman also highlights the impact social classes and groups have on media content. During the consumption of messages in a news-based medium, one must also consider the strength of their original ideologies (Feldman 2018). In other words, a strongly-committed person in an audience will seek out and select themes that are like their supported partisan ideals. One can consider the 2016 United States Presidential Election. Throughout the campaign, an intensely devoted Republican could possibly choose to only watch news networks that advocate and support Republican nominee Donald Trump. Meanwhile, a devout Democrat may choose to watch pro-Hillary Clinton programs and ignore content that promotes Nominee Trump.

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In both cases, a person may select a certain network to consume because it has like-minded values while disregarding the content that is counter-attitudinal.

Citizens react in this way due to the fact that humans naturally become members of interpretive communities (Danesi 2013). As social creatures, humans settle into groups, such as churches, neighborhoods, unions, classes, and more. Members of these groups tend to have homogenous notions, especially if they are raised in this group. A member’s ideals are then shaped by the tenets of that community. With this setting, a main influence on selective exposure is an opinion leader. An opinion leader is expected to consumer content across media and then make deliberate decisions, these opinions are then given to the members in the community. For example, in selective exposure, if an opinion leader were to promote CNN over Fox, then members of the community will be more likely to selectively consume CNN.

Along with the example of the 2016 Presidential election, selective perception theory is present in many ways in the 21st century. While many recognize an importance in retaining both sides of an argument, selective perception theory will always influence the interpretation of a medium’s content.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Danesi, M. (2013). Media Effects. Encyclopedia of Media and Communication, 429-434. doi: 10.3138/9781442695528.

Feldman, L., Wojcieszak, M., Stroud, N.J., & Bimber, B. (2018). Explaining Media Choice: The Role of Issue-Specific Engagement in Predicting Interest-Based and Partisan Selectivity. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 62(1), 109-130. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2017.1375502

Image Attribution: “Catalá: Paul Felix Lazarsfeld” by Miremahe CC 4.0;  “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during United States presidential election 2016” by Krassotkin and Gage Skidmore CC 3.0

Written by Tamia Williams, 2018

Semiotic School of Communication

The Semiotic School of Communication is a term coined by John Fiske in his book Introduction to Communication Studies. According to Fiske, their are two ways of studying communication, one being the process school and the other being the semiotic school. The process school, in short, is centered on the transmission of messages and understanding the effects of it. Fiske then describes the semiotic school and it’s importance in the study of communication and media. Fiske argues that the semiotic school focuses on communication being a production and exchanging of meanings. It researches how messages and texts interact with people, and how it studies text and culture. The semiotic school draws on linguistics, arts, and humanities while identifying itself with works of communication. The semiotic school believes social interaction happens when an individual is part of society compared to the process school where social interaction is defined when people relate themselves to others and/or affects the behaviors/state of mind of another. For the semiotic school, messages occur when the construction of signs produces meaning.


christian 1One example is the stop sign. When approaching a stop sign, the driver comes to a full stop and proceeds to drive again when they have the right-of-way. People produce meaning out of this numerous times to the point where they unconsciously stop without even having to think twice.

christian 2Another example is the V sign. Numerous cultures give meaning to this simple hand gesture. Here in America, it is commonly seeing as a peace sign, a photography pose, or the number “2”. But in other countries, the meaning people give the V sign can be the total opposite compared to America’s intended interpretation. Countries such as Australia and South Africa give meaning to this v sign as an insult and disrespect if put up in public settings. In Ethiopia, holding up the V sign means you are supporting a certain political party called “Kinijit.

christian 3This is a painting called “The Treachery of Images” painted by artist René Magritte. In the art piece, it shows a picture of a pipe followed by the words “This is not a pipe” in French. The audience has to decide of what meaning to make out of this painting. Should the audience go along with the text and believe that it is not a pipe? Or should the audience deny the text and instead give meaning to the painting by describing it as an accurate, realistic depiction of a pipe?

christian 4This diagram is intended to show where the male and female bathrooms are located. With just three shapes, people gave meaning to these signs to symbolize which gender was allowed to go to which restroom. No matter which part of the world you travel to, it is certain that most countries use the same figures regardless of the language and culture practiced in the region. If a certain gender enters the wrong bathroom, society would shame that person for not understanding the meaning and text of the bathroom figures.


Pokhrel, D. (2015, March 13). Fiske’s Typology: The Semiotic and process schools of communication theory. Retrieved December 07, 2017, from https://litedaiblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/fiskes-typology-the-semiotic-and-process-schools-of-communication-theory-2/

Yuan, X. (2015, February 24). Media Theory & Meaning Systems (CCTP-748). Retrieved December 07, 2017, from https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/cctp-748-spring2015/2015/02/24/semiotic-school-of-communication-and-how-it-takes-me-to-re-think-google-gallery/

Image Attribution: The images used in this post is in the Public Domain.

Written by Christian Yosef, 2017.















Sitcom (TV)

Sitcoms are a television medium that typically air during primetime at night. Sitcom stands for situation-based comedy. They feature a recurring cast from season to season.

The plot typically revolves around complications among the cast. There is minimal character development. The characters of the cast are static in their personalities. Instead of character development, the sitcom focuses on the crazy and funny plots that arise from these character’s static personalities in their everyday lives. These plots arise from a disruption from the status quo and an episode of a sitcom will illustrate how the characters deal with resolving this disruption. The conflict is typically resolved by the end of an episode, and the status quo is maintained.

The setting of sitcoms takes place in everyday settings such as work, school, or at home. Office based sitcoms focus on antics of the characters in the workplace and how the characters’ work and social lives intermingle (Griffin 2008). A sitcom in which the family setting is portrayed at home would be Roseanne (Grabowski 2014).  Roseanne embodies stereotypes of family focused sitcoms such as pursuit of the American dream and economic stagnation (Grabowski 2014).

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Cast of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother

The length of sitcom episodes is almost always twenty-three minutes long, with commercial breaks woven in. There is no specific target audience for sitcoms. The potential audience is supposed to be as broad as the producers can possibly manage. Sitcoms have laughter overlaid on top of the video at comical points throughout the show. This laughter is prerecorded through a live audience’s laughter and a laugh track. The camera set up utilizes the three-wall system, and the viewer observes the characters of the show through the “fourth wall.” Sitcoms rarely, if ever, break this fourth wall.

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Cast of the sitcom Modern Family

Sitcoms are always signed on by a broadcasting network. Some of the most known networks that host sitcoms are NBC, ABC, Fox, CW, CBS (Broadcast Networks) FX, AMC, USA, and Comedy Central. Some of the most popular shows that have been signed by some of these networks are Modern Family by ABC, How I Met Your Mother by CBS, and Roseanne by NBC.

Other networks besides the ones which sitcoms originally aired on will obtain licenses to air reruns of sitcoms. The audience that these reruns are directed at are mainly viewers who have already seen the sitcom or new viewers who want a taste of the sitcom. A whole series of a sitcom will rarely be shown through reruns on alternate networks.


Grabowski, M. (2014). Resignation and Positive Thinking in the Working-Class Family Sitcom. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 22(2), 124-137.

Griffin, J. (2008). The Americanization of The Office: A Comparison of the Offbeat NBC Sitcom and Its British Predecessor. Journal of Popular Film & Television, 35(4), 154-163.

Image Attribution: Image 1:“Modern Family Cast.jpg” by Jenn Deering Davis CC BY 2.0; Image 2: “How I Met Your Mother.jpg” by SAndrex333 CC BY-SA 4.0

Written by Corey Pippen, 2018


Sketch Comedy (TV)

Sketch comedies also known as short comedy skits originated from variety shows which consisted of singing, dancing, and many other forms of entertainment (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). Sketch comedies are often played in front of a live studio audience and although they are scripted there are elements of improv in their segments as well (Simons, 2016). Simons (2016) describes the flow of a sketch comedy work as a short piece of content filled with humor, the audience is entertained and then the sketch is over. The ability to enjoy the work, then move on with life it what easily attracts viewers.


Sketch comedies have been shown on various networks and channels. Comedy Central serves as a channel that has provided audiences with fan favorites like Key and Peele (2012-2015), and Inside Amy Schumer (2013-2016) (Campbell et al., 2017). To this day NBC network has aired Saturday Night Live (SNL) since 1975 (Weingarten et al., 2015). Celebrity guest appearances are frequent and provide iconic and memorable moments on SNL sketches. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim has also provided sketch comedies. From 2012 to 2014 Adult swim aired Loiter Squad, a show featuring rappers and skateboarders like Tyler The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. Adult Swim also provides an example of animated sketch comedies like Robot Chicken (2005-2018), where different groups of characters of various animations who have segments of their own sketches are put together to make an episode. Nickelodeon aired The Amanda Show (1998-2002), a sketch comedy show aimed for children that casted young actors who later took roles in other works like Amanda Bynes and Josh Peck (Weingarten et al., 2015).


Individuals who have been involved in sketch comedies have furthered their career in different areas as well. While Tyler The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt have advanced in their musical career and Amanda Bynes and Josh Peck continued to act (Weingarten et al., 2015), others like Harold Ramis from SCTV and Bob Odenkirk from Mr. Show with Bob and David have proceeded to direct and write films as well (Mazillo, 2017). Their experience with sketch comedies allowed these directors to portray artistic freedom in films that have produced free flowing and entertaining content audiences can admire and remember (Mazillo, 2017).

Before we had sketch comedies on television, they were performed on stages. Now sketch comedies are viewed on various platforms including the internet. YouTube shared segments of sketch comedies to audiences all over the world, increasing their popularity. However, audiences continued to watch on the internet, increasing the use of third screen, or computer viewing (Campbell et al., 2017).


If this trend continues, there is a chance that audiences will choose to use fourth screens like smartphones instead of watching sketch comedy shows on television (Campbell et al., 2017). Subscription streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix, who even produce their own sketch comedies might make this change easier. However, because individuals by nature have multiple interests, it might be possible that television and the internet will continue to make content and audiences will find their niches in each source (Campbell et al., 2017).





Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication

in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Mazillo. A., (2017, August 18). The influence on sketch comedy experience on film directing.

Retrieved from https://www.filminquiry.com/influence-sketch-comedy-directing/


Simons. S., (2016, April 12). The Strange Persistence of Sketch Comedy. Retrieved from



Weingarten. C., et al., (2015, March 27). 40 Greatest Sketch Comedy TV Shows of All Time.


Rolling Stone. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-lists/40-greatest-sketch-comedy-tv-shows-of-all-time-142581/the-league-of-gentlemen-1999-2002-186768/


Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the Public Domain



Written by Milena Rodriguez, 2018.

Social Gaming

Social Gaming is the term used within media studies to describe a style of gaming that involves social interaction among players. Social games are more commonly referred to as Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), or games that use the internet to connect tens of thousands of players into one playing platform at any given time simultaneously. This unique trait belonging to only social games, or MMOGs, simply means MMOGs have created virtual worlds that exist outside of one player (Lastowka & Hunter 2004). Furthermore, this allows the particular game or platform to create a virtual world that can be adapted, or changed by other users in real time even when one gamer signs out. This multiplayer open world affect gives players the chance to compete with who they want, or anyone at random whenever. Giving the player a higher motivation to play (Kaye & Bryce 2012) These games can be played on any device including, laptop, tablets, desktop, and gaming consoles. Although, originally released on console system.

First released by Sega on September 10, 1999, in the United States and Canada, (Robinson 1999), the Dreamcast was the first gaming console to incorporate a built-in modem allowing connection to a multiplayer platform through the internet or independent gaming in the same console, just narrowly beating Sony in the release of their console highlighting the same technology.

andrewThe first steps to the modern MMOG were the Multiplayer-User Dungeon games (MUDs) being played on the Dreamcast. That later became Multi-User Dimension, then finally Multi-User Domain. These precursors to the Massively Multiplayer Online Games started to combine elements of players playing together and working together to achieve a task, at one time. Although, the games were consisted of codes instead of live feed video. (Muramastsu &Ackerman 1998)

As the MUDs went through their transitions, the games started adding graphics and began to see one of the major identifiers of the modern MMOG, the creation and usage of avatars. Avatars are simulated character identities that gamers use to interact with other gamers. Avatars can be customized and edited to make a unique identity for each gamer within the MMOG. Within modern MMOGs, the difference not only lies within what the avatar looks like, but how the gamer interacts with his or her avatar. How the gamer interacts with the avatar dictates exactly what kind of MMOG the player is participating in. Within the MMOG platform there are two main types of MMOGs and they differ in how the gamer utilizes or controls the avatar.

andrew 2The most popular style of MMOG are the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Within this type of MMOG the avatar is controlled through a 3rd person point of view. The gamer directs his or her avatar through a virtual world that is already set up, and it is up to the gamer to decide the direction and paths to take within that already set up world. Some role-playing games are created like SIMS, where the gamer is an avatar in a world simulated pretty close to the real world, with jobs, businesses, buying houses and living a free virtual life. While others, such as World of Warcraft, are set in a completely made up world with potions and spells, and emphasizes on survival. Another addition to role-playing style gaming is interacting with multiple different avatars as ‘God’. Not playing as a specific avatar, but building and managing multiple singular non-player avatar. An example would be Clash of Clans, a game that gives the gamer full control of building the layout of buildings, and building armies to compete against other ‘Clans’.

andrew 3The second most popular style of MMO gaming are the Massively-Multiplayer Online First-Person Shooter Games (MMOFPSGs). In which the player interacts with the avatar in the 1st person point of view. These games comprise of both altered-reality simulated virtual worlds, and the reality simulated such as the Call of Duty series. The Call of Duty series of games puts the gamer in both historical battle settings, all the way to futuristic dystopian battle settings. The series also allows the player to play independently on a predestined track outside of the MMOG platform, or go online and play with hundreds of others within the platform.

Although price varies from game to game, along with payment styles, from buy once to monthly prescriptions. Both styles lay virtual economies to use real world currency to turn into goods and virtual currency to buy upgrades that puts their avatar or civilization above others. (Yoo & Kauffman 2003). The relatively new system of currency exchanging and buying through the games to enhance the players virtual lives through the avatars is what is making the industry grow economically at a rapid pace. The most popular in-game economy is that of non-player character merchants (NCPM) or platform owned mechanical merchants that collects money or tradable goods from players in real time. The evolution of the NCPMs enables players to online gamble in real time with other avatars and players, or gamble directly with the companies through the NCPMs, furthering the growing economy of Social Gaming (White 2008).


Kaye, L. K., & Bryce, J. (2012). Putting The “Fun Factor” Into Gaming: The Influence of Social Contexts on Experiences of Playing Videogames. International Journal of Internet Science, 7(1), 23-36.

Kim, K., Yoo, B., & Kauffman, R. J. (2013). Valuation of Participation in Social Gaming. International Journal of Electronical Commerce, 18(2), 11-50. Doi: 10.2753/JEC1086-4415180201

Lastowka, F. Gregory & Dan Hunter, a. (2004). The Laws of the Virtual Worlds. California Law Review, (1), 1. doi:10.2307/3481444

Muramatsu, J., & Ackerman, M.S. (1998). Computing, Social Activity, and Entertainment: A Field Study of a Game MUD. Computer Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing, 7(1/2), 87-122

Robinson, John. (September 10, 1999) Dreamcast launch not all fun and games. CNN retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9909/10/dc.problems/index.html

White, E. E. (2008.). Massively Multiplayer Online Fraud: Why the Introduction of Real World Law in a Virtual Context Is Good for Everyone. Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property,6(2), 1-25. Retrieved from h p://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/njtip/vol6/iss2/7.

Image Attribution: “Dreamcast JP NTSC” By Luftholen is licensed by (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Clash of Clans 3” By Themeplus is licensed by (CC BY-SA 2.0); “BlackOps 2010-11-15 20-33-12-82” By Chris Moore is licensed by (CC BY 2.0)

Written by Andrew Houghton, 2017

Social Media Advertising

Social media is a term for different online websites that may offer space for a wide variety of social actions allows users to create a personal profile and connect with others to share posts, images, and videos (Mercadal 2013). When companies utilize social media websites to advertise products they are implementing the use of social media advertising. With consumers publicly displaying information about their of likes, dislikes, locations, and other personal information (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017) it allows organizations to narrow their approach for higher effectiveness, to increase brand awareness, develop user communities, build relationships with community members, and improve customer service (Mercadal 2013). With increasingly efficient programming technologies that can be scaled for niche audiences or for an audience numbering in the hundreds of thousands (Mercadal 2013) companies are able to directly advertise to their target consumers through social media. These advertisements can take many forms such as display ads, sponsored stories, and reach generators such as personal company pages or accounts (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016). Popular executional styles social media advertising involve interactivity, message appeals, and virtual direct experience (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016).

evan 1Like all advertising, social media advertising is to present and sell products as well as sales promotions, direct marketing, advertising, publicity, and create brand awareness (Mercadal 2013). Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram gather a huge amount of information from their users everyday, allowing advertisers to reach specific user by displaying ads for products related to those users’ unique preferences and behaviors (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017). Online marketing analytics systems allow organizations to view and assess, in real time, the impact of their social media messages. It also allows organizations to personalize and narrow messages for specific demographic segments in ways that mass media cannot (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016). Social media is cost effect because it is completely free for companies to create profiles to gather followers and fans which they can share information or media pertaining for no cost at all. The ultimate success for a company advertising over social media is to go “viral”, meaning their content is continuously shared and disseminated over the internet (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017).

Display ads are defined as graphical advertising on the websites that appear next to content on web pages while users scroll through their feed (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016). These display ads are often banners what come in standardized ad sizes, and can include text, logos, pictures, or more recently, multimedia (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016). Evidence has shown that entertainment values affect or strongly affect consumers’ attitude toward online ads (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016). Companies will often pay bloggers or celebrities post on social media about their “favorite” products to influence their followers to purchase or at the least be exposed to certain products (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017). On websites like Facebook, sponsors and product companies will pay for generated posts which references the participating brand sponsor in some way, these posts are called sponsored stories (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos,B. 2017).

Each of these advertising strategies mentioned beforehand are examples of paid media, but an important goal of social media advertising is creating earned media. Earned media is created when a user “likes” or shares a post about a product or company, broadcasting the information into their friends and followers feed (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017). As the Nielsen Media rating service says about online earned media, “Study after study has shown that consumers trust their friends and peers more than anyone else when it comes to purchase decisions” (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017). The spread positive word of mouth allows for the consumers to become personal endorsements for products (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016).

There is an economic importance in social media advertising in that social media, has reported significant gains; its usage among adults in the United States increased by about 800 percent over the past decade (Mercadal 2013). As of 2017, 69 percent of American adults were using social media. Internet ad spending has reached $121 billion in 2014, and is expected to experience the fastest growth in 2015 compared to other media platforms, which draws value from traditional forms advertising (Zhang, J., & Mao, E. 2016). Although there is great marketing value in social media marketing, advertising on social media could become more intrusive or annoying to consumers because it interrupts their browsing activities and/or social conversations with friends (Mercadal 2013). The cultural perception of social media advertising may be negative but its economic importance and influence on how marketing is conducted on the internet must be noted.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Advertising and Commercial Culture. H. Chester (Ed.), Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (351-383). Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.

Mercadal, T. (2013). Social media marketing. Salem Press Encyclopedia.

Zhang, J., & Mao, E. (2016). From online motivations to ad clicks and to behavioral intentions: An empirical study of consumer response to social media advertising. Psychology & Marketing, 33(3), 155-164.

Image Attribution: “A Brief History Of Social Advertising” by Social Press is licensed under ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Written by Evan Gaines, 2017






Portrait of Guy Debord

Guy Debord was a French theorist that became an important part of postmodernity and shaped the theory of the spectacle and its role in society during the 1960s. He is particularly interesting with the fact that he often put his theory into practice with his creation of the situationist group that often protested against societal norms and capitalist control, which were significant aspects in his theory. Overall, Debord’s theory on the spectacle is vital to the postmodern theories and is used to explain the toxic relationship between media, economy, and society.

Guy Debord’s spectacle is part of the Postmodern theory. He belongs to the Postmodern theorists because of his ideas style destroying substance and media or the spectacle changing or extinguishing reality. Postmodernism, as defined by Dan Laughey in Key Themes of Media Theory, is the movement from modern ways to new postmodern ways. These new ways are separated into two forms: the creation and spreading of new media, and the rise of consumer culture with the disappearance of forms of production. Debord focuses on the rise of consumer culture that spreads the new media and controls the production. The spectacle creates an emphasis on style over substance and the lack of societal interaction through the seclusion of consumers in the terms of postmodern theories. He gives an explanation of society through the effects and control of the capitalist economies and of commodities.

Guy Debord, in his book The Society of the Spectacle, interprets the world as a commodity and is ruled by capitalism. Those who are leaders in capitalist economies create media or spectacle to control and segregate consumers with the help of technology such as television or radio. Debord paints the image of a “lonely crowd” in terms of this capitalist isolation to explain how consumers become isolated by capitalism, but they are also under the same capitalist control. The unified control is through the people’s concentration on the spectacle while also being separate from all other concentrations through deceiving the audience’s gaze. The audience believe that the media that they are seeing is real when it is not, merging them in their beliefs and reliance on the media and commodities but still isolating them from actual reality. And, this reliance on fake media creates fake needs, or pseudo-needs, within the population.

Debord creates the idea of pseudo-needs. These are needs consumers experience because the of the control that the capitalist industries have. The spectacle is what they use to create them. He positions that the audience takes up the role of the spectacle. In doing this, the audience as the spectacle works to move the spectacle from idea to reality, so that it becomes reality when introduced into the audience’s everyday life. However, the consumers are left with a false representation of life with the fact that the spectacle is the consumer creating different roles for themselves because they do not comprehend that reality does not exist when influenced by the images and media that create the spectacle.


Situationists’ Posters and Slogans

An example of how Debord put his spectacle theory into practice is by creating a group in 1957 called the “Situationists,” who all had the main goal of making people aware of the blindness and seclusion that the capitalist economies have created through media. They believed that people have become destitute because of the fact that what everyone is forced to consume does not give the meaning it actually has, therefore giving consumers no meaning as they become the spectacle they consume. This lack of thought creates a segregated society that the situationists fought to end. They created situations that forced people to interact and think about what was going on.

Another example would be an uprising in Paris in 1968, that was influenced by the situationists’ movement, that forced the French people to think about how the country was being run and how people were barely surviving with the existence of the spectacle. Those who started the uprising were influenced by the situationists’ situations that made


Students protesting during the Paris Uprising of 1968

people think about the hegemonic norms that they were following. The Paris Uprising was a forced examination of the French government and society, with an emphasis on the hegemonic norms like the situationists, specifically by students at the Nanterre University. It pairs with the idea of going against hegemonic, or dominant, norms that the situationists practiced, which led to students, workers and everyday people around the city to become part of a strike. In classrooms, students would stand and scream political sayings, and workers would yell them in the streets. This becomes part of the Situationists’ practice of disrupting normal society practices that are often controlled by media.

So, with the overall idea of people who have become spectacles being isolated from society, this leads to thoughts and ideas becoming unimportant and the interaction with society nonexistent.


Debord, G., & Nicholson-Smith, D. (2012). The Society of the Spectacle. New York: Zone Books.

Laughey, D. (2010). Key Themes in Media Theory. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Morgan, T., & Purje, A. (2017, May 14). An Illustrated Guide to Guy Debord’s ‘The Society of the Spectacle’. Retrieved May 7, 2018, from https://hyperallergic.com/313435/an-illustrated-guide-to-guy-debords-the-society-of-the-spectacle/

Poggioli, S. (2008, May 13). Marking the French Social Revolution of ’68. Retrieved May 7, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90330162

Situationists – An Introduction. (2006, October 12). Retrieved May 7, 2018, from https://libcom.org/thought/situationists-an-introduction

Image Attribution: Image #1 “Guy Debord, painted portrait DDC_7567. jpg” by Thierry ehrmann licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0); Image #2 “Situationist posters (Paris 1968)” by E Wayne licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); Image #3 is in the Public Domain

Written by Gillian White, 2018

Technological Determinism

Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that claims that technology shapes society. According to this theory, technology inevitably enhances on a traceable path that can be followed and correlated with the enhancement of society. Determinism refers to a relationship between two things that involves a “predetermined result” (Papageorgiou, T.) Technology is defined as the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Therefore, the term technological determinism refers to a relationship between technology and society where society is predetermined to be shaped by the ways in which it uses scientific knowledge for practical purposes. This theory is credited to Thorstein Veblin who believed in a strong causal tie between technology and every society. He proposed that technology independently determines the values and culture of a society (Papageorgiou, T.)

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Karl Marx

Karl Marx is viewed as a believer in technological determinism. He believed that means of production are the basis of society. In The Poverty of Philosophy, he states that “the hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord: the steam mill, society with the industrial capitalist” (1847, 49.) In this case, the means of production are the hand-mill and steam mill. He attributes the characteristics of these eras to the means of production that were used during them. Another supporter of the technological determinism theory is Marshall McLuhan. In his work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, he discusses how the “medium is the message.” This phrase means that whatever the message of society is at any given period of time, it came about as a result of the new medium exists at that time. McLuhan says that “the personal and social consequences of any medium…result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology” (1980, 1.)

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Marshall McLuhan

However, many oppose this theory, believing that technology does not have this much of an effect on a society. Technology is able to accompany other influences in society, but it is not the one determinant factor in society. This theory centers the argument to a cause and effect relationship when many other factors play into a result than just one. In The Tragedy of Technology, Stephen Hill argues that technology is not the sole proponent of social change but that change “is a product of the particular alignment between the technological possibilities and the society and culture that exists” (1988.)

Madner (2009) discusses certain critiques and questions to take into consideration when discussing technological determinism, particularly during the print era. For example, he brings to attention the possibility that there may be different visions of print and history that do not correlate with its “determinist assumptions.” This idea can be applied to all kinds of technology, not just print. A piece of technology can produce effects in a society that do not correspond with what it was assumed to do.  An example of this is cell phones. Their determined purpose was to be able to call someone over a distance. It was not determined that they would develop all of the abilities that a computer has. They are able to call someone, but they now contain access to the Internet and many apps that can do a multitude of things.


Hill, S. (1988). The tragedy of technology: human liberation versus domination in the late twentieth century. London: Pluto.

Mader, R. (2009). Print Culture Studies and Technological Determinism. College Literature,36(2), 131-140. doi:10.1353/lit.0.0047

Marx, K. (2012). The poverty of philosophy. Place of publication not identified: Digireads.com Publishing.

McLuhan, M. (1980). Understanding media the extensions of man. Toronto: CNIB.

Papageorgiou, T., & Michaelides, P. G. (2013). Joseph Schumpeter and Thorstein Veblen on technological determinism, individualism and institutions. The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought,23(1), 1-30. doi:10.1080/09672567.2013.792378

Image Attribution: The images used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Sydney Armitage, 2017.

Telecommunications Act of 1996

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a federal law of the United States of America that governs the communications industries of telephone, internet, radio, television, and cable. (Econmides 1988)

History of the Act
Before the Telecommunications Act of 1996, there was a law known as the 1934 Communications Act, which governed telephone and television. (Econmides 1988) Starting in 1984 after the large national telephone company AT&T was broken up by the government into smaller regional companies, Congress attempted to create rules and regulations for all the new technology which existed. They could not reach agreement for 12 years, after which they passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. (Econmides 1988)

Purpose of the Act
Congress intended to reduce regulations on the telecommunications industry, so that companies could compete for customers. (Campbell, Martin & Fabos, 2017) The Act allowed any company to enter any, or all, of the different types of telecommunications businesses. (Federal Communication Commission 2014) By allowing companies to operate in more than one field of telecommunications, such as telephone providers also selling television and internet services, it gave way to greater competition. Generally, competition lowers prices for consumers because they would naturally choose the company that provides the best service to them at the lowest price. Also, the Act was meant to create a “universal service” which is a basic bundle of telecommunications services that should be available to all consumers at a reasonable cost. (Sterling 1996)

Effect of the Act
The Act has had mixed results. In some ways it has been a success and in others it has not lived up to expectations. (Campbell et al., 2017) Of course, there has been a huge expansion in systems and technology for cable, telephone, internet, and television since 1996. Much of the copper wires used to transmit data have been replaced by fiber optic wires that allow faster transmission of, and a higher volume of, data. (Campbell et al., 2017) However, prices for these services have not decreased much. It turns out that there is still not much competition in cable; about 90% of communities have just one cable provider. In those communities, the prices remain high. Although, in the communities where cable providers compete for customers, the prices have decreased. (Campbell et al., 2017)

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Seal of the FCC

Signing the Act into a Law
The Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on February 8, 1996. The signing of the bill, passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, was notable for several reasons. It was the first law ever signed at the Library of Congress. The pen that President Clinton used to sign it was the same one used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to sign the Interstate Highway Act of 1957. This was symbolic because together, the media are often called the “information superhighway.” After President Clinton signed the 1996 Act in ink, he also signed it digitally online. This was the first time that a bill was signed into law digitally. (Lamolinara 1996)

Implementation and Enforcement of the Act
While the Act outlines what Congress wanted to do, Congress did not know all the details of running businesses in the telecommunications field. The day-to-day implementation and enforcement of the Act is therefore handled by the Federal Communications Commission, (the FCC). It works with the industry to create regulations and govern the details of running these businesses. (Federal Communications Commission 2014)


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. (199-200). Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Econmides, N. (1988). The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its impact. Retrieved December 05, 2017 SSRN Electronic Journal, doi: 10.2139/ssrn.81289

Federal Communication Commission. (2014).  Telecommunications Act of 1996. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from https://fcc.gov/general/telecommunications-act-1996

Lamolinara, G. (1996). Library of Congress. Wired for the Future President Clinton Signs Telecom Act at LC. Retrieved, December 05, 2017, from https: http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9603/telecom.html

Sterling, H., Christopher. Understanding the Telecommunications Act of 1996,. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from Indiana University Federal Communications Law Journal.

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Ashley Waldman, 2017

Textual Analysis

Textual analysis is a method in cultural and media studies that critically examines and interprets the meanings of culture through texts (Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. 2017). Texts can be defined as any “unit of meaning for interpretation and understanding” (Ouellette & Gray, 2017), though cultural studies views texts broadly as anything than needs to be interpreted or read. These texts can include examples such as television programs, fashion, books, music. This methodology aims to understand the meanings of texts, how texts convey meaning, and “what its themes, messages, and explicit and implicit assumptions aim to accomplish” (Ouellette & Gray, 2017). The meaning of texts can often be subtle as many elements can be evaluated.

The interpretation of texts is important because they transmit meaning and communications. Often though, texts can be interpreted a variety of different ways. The meanings of texts are “contextual, relative [to the readers background and history], and situated in a particular place and time” (Ouellette & Gray, 2017). This means that good textual analysis must take both the specific time and place in account. In Stuart Hall’s Encoding/Decoding, he states that both the sender of a text and the receiver work together to create meaning. Hall’s research helps scholars to understand why and how multiple meanings are formed when using textual analysis (Chavez, 2009).

Horace Newcomb was the first major scholar to study television shows using this methodology. In his book TV: The Most Popular Art, he “studied why certain TV programs and formats became popular” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017) using textual analysis. He did this by examining patterns such as artistic tradition and social context. He explored “aesthetic, social, and psychological” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017) qualities in the work he studied.  As a result of his research, textual analysis began to focus less on strictly ‘important’ works. For cultural and media study scholars, the definition of a text expanded to include “architecture, fashion, pop icons” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017) and other things like music, movies, and entertainment. Analysis of the more ordinary aspects of life often provided insight about society in general. Their focus was on the “ways that ‘normal’ people organize experience and understand their daily lives” (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). Textual analysis, as a toolkit, allows researchers to see the ways in which cultures interact with the world around them.

Alexa 1Dick Hebdige was the first to use this methodology to analyze youth subculture. Hebdige studied under Stuart Hall at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham. Hebdige extended ideas on subculture from Hall in his book Subculture in which he studied the construction of youth fashion, particularly in Alexa 2white punk and reggae subcultures. To Hebdige, style was composed of clothing, make-up, music, and drugs. In both the punk and reggae subcultures he identified a common theme – the rejection of British national symbolism. Style, he determined, represented underlying principles of subcultures. Punk fashion, inspired by the reggae subculture, is composed of “leathers jackets…vivid socks…bum freezers and bovver boots” and “contained distorted reflections of all the major post-war subcultures” (Chavez 2009). Through the use of textual analysis, Hebdige was able to analyze a drastic shift in fashion for certain subcultures.


Campbell, R. Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a  Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Chávez, K. R. (2009). Cultural Studies. In S. Littlejohn & K. Foss, Encyclopedia of Communication Theory. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks California 91320 United States: SAGE Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412959384.n99

Ouellette, L., & Gray, J. (2017). Keywords for Media Studies. New York: New York University

Image Attributions: Image #1 “Skingirls” is by PSICO MOD and licensed under CC BY 2.0, : Image #2 “Subculture” is by Jodieinblack and licensed under CC BY 2.0

Written by Alexa Reed, 2018

Third Screens

In a media studies lens, computers are the third screen that consumers use to view content, with movie screens and television screens existing as the first and second, respectively (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2017). Computers can be used to access movies, television, books, magazines, newspapers, music, and a vast amount of other content. The technological advancements of computers and the Internet have revolutionized the way that we consume media.

kyleYouTube reigns as the most popular site for viewing content online such as television shows and movie snippets (and sometimes full-length episodes), as well as user-created content. Competitors like iTunes and Vimeo and streaming sites such as Hulu also offer users access to full-length episodes of professionally produced television shows (Campbell et al., 2017). Since these shows and movies are typically first offered on TV or in theaters, third screens are often used as catch-up services for consumers to view content that has previously aired. This unique ability of third screen viewing on the Internet can make television and theaters obsolete, especially for people who prefer the use of their computer as a viewing platform.

However, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are referred to as the third screen in the marketing industry since the marketing industry does not recognize movies as a standard marketing approach. Television and the Internet (computers) are the first and second screens, respectively (Tanakinjal, Deans, & Gray, 2010). In a media studies lens, mobile devices occur after computers as the fourth screen; hence why it can be confusing while researching the third screen.

Companies marketing through mobile mediums recognize the potential to grasp thekyle 2 attention and gain the business of a large amount of consumers (Tanakinjal et al., 2017). This can be partially traced to the popular methods of media consumption on computers and mobile devices. Advertisements and marketing are now heavily focused on the Internet and mobile apps in order to tap into the consumers who frequent their computer, smartphone, and tablet screens for media consumption.

Whether it be through a media studies or marketing industry lens, third screens represent the transformation of our media consumption habits. Many people receive a large portion, if not all, of their news and entertainment on their personal devices, opposed to in theaters or on television. Much has changed since the time that only first and second screens existed.


Campbell, R., Martin, C., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media & culture: Mass communication in a digital age. Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Tanakinjal, G. H., Deans, K. R., & Gray, B. J. (2010). Third screen communication and the adoption of mobile marketing: A Malaysia perspective. International Journal of Marketing Studies, 2(1), 36.

Image Attribution: The images used in this post are in the Public Domain.

Written by Kyle Hayden, 2017

Two-Step Flow of Communication

Cass 1The Two-Step flow of communication was originally derived by Lazersfield and a group of sociologist in 1944 (Katz, 1957). Eleven years later Katz adapted the model (Katz, 1957). The original hypothesis of the Two-Step Flow of communication, described a verbal flow of communication. In which mass media flows to opinion leaders and then audience (opinion followers). The opinion followers are more or less disconnected about media landscapes, and therefore take in the information from the opinion holders.  There is an interconnection of communication. Factors in this model include: the level of personal Influence, the flow of that personal influence, and the opinion leaders’ involvement with mass media (Katz,1957). The flow of personal influence describes where their certain interpersonal communication ranked higher than others (Katz,1957). Katz stresses that personal influence can be a stronger and more effective influencer than mass media.

Mass media usage differs within communities. A poll was conducted and information was diffused about the passing of Senator Taft (Larsen and Hill 1954).  The information was spread across the radio, television, and newspaper. The white communities were recorded as being the most informed about this issue. It was also concluded that in that same neighborhood, the least informed were non-white (Larsen and Hill,1954). The Cass 2degree of interpersonal communications was significantly higher amongst the white community members.  This shows that interpersonal relations played a key role in the transmission of a message. In this example, it is more powerful than mass media itself. This directly relates to Katz modernization to the Two-Step flow of communication. Opinion leaders are not just famous nor recognizable people. Upon further studies and research Katz concluded that there are these “opinion leaders” on every level of society (Katz,1957). This is adaptation of the original model suggests that the communicatory process can be transitive.

The Two-Step flow of communication process takes place across all scopes of media. An example of this would be mass media like television or newspapers that feature opinion leaders and strong influencers. Such as the President of the United States and Oprah Winfrey. Both capture large demographics and vastly differing ones. Audience members would be more likely to relate to homogenous opinion leaders. For example, a democratic party member would not be as influenced by Trump’s information as a Trump-supporting Republican would. Contrarily, Oprah Winfrey is a well-known Democrat and spokesperson for women and racial issues. There are a lot of women and minorities that would listen to her for knowledge about worldly topics over Trump. Their respective audiences gain much of their information from those people about important issues in the world today.

Cass together

The Two-Step flow of communication model is important due to the fact that it helps explain how masses of people obtain their information. This model also describes an easily influenced and gullible audience. The Two-Step Theory also focuses on the effects and behaviors of the opinion followers. In a democratic society, the ability to get messages out to audiences can lead to sufficient political gain and power.


Katz, E. (1957). The Two-Step Flow of Communication: An Up-To-Date Report on an Hypothesis. The Public Opinion Quarterly,21(1), 61-78. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2746790

Larsen, O., & Hill, R. (1954). Mass Media and Interpersonal Communication in the Diffusion of a News Event. American Sociological Review, 19(4), 426-433. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2087462

Image Attribution: Image 1: “Two-step flow of Communication” by Nisomlevi, CC BY-SA 3.0; Image 2: “Old television Set” by Rfc1934, CC BY-SA 3.0; Image 3: “Oprah Winfrey (2004)” byAlan Light, CC BY-SA 3.0; Image 4: “Donald Trump responds to a question during Q&A with Reef Cordish” by Sheela Craighead, CC BY-SA 3.1

Written by Cassidy Quattro, 2018

Uses and Gratifications

The Uses and Gratifications theory was posited as a more comprehensive way to discuss and analyze the roles of media effects in our lives. The Uses and Gratifications theory views the audience as an active participator when consuming media. This is a significant shift in audience perspective. Before the Uses and Gratifications theory, the audience was seen as a passive observer when consuming media, where every member of the audience interprets the media in the same manner. The Uses and Gratifications theory recognizes that audience members can have different tastes and preferences when consuming media. This shift in classifying how an audience can have different interpretations with a piece of work is central to the Uses and Gratifications theory.

Uses and Gratifications theory measures the impact of media through the difference between gratifications sought and gratifications obtained. Gratifications sought was the initial reasoning an individual consumes a piece of media or adopts a new medium. Gratifications obtained is the reasoning for continued use or enjoyment from that same media or new medium. The difference between gratification sought and gratification obtained is central to the Uses and Gratifications theory, because the difference between the two gratifications could potentially draw more people to the media or medium or repel new people from adopting the media or medium.

The Uses and Gratifications theory can be used as a lens when examining why people adopt social media platforms. Research conducted by communication scholars Alyson Young and Anabel Quan-Haase shows us that people satisfy different gratifications depending on what social media platform they use. Quan-Haase and Youngs’ research was conducted in two distinct parts. First, they examined how individuals use social media. They examined the type of social media used, how long people interacted with the platform, how frequently the individual stayed on the platform, and through what screen did the person consume the piece of media (through their laptops, iPads, cellular devices). Quan-Haase and Young also examined the motivations for continued use of social media, and the gratifications that were obtained.

This research revealed that people satisfy different social needs depending on the platform that they were using. People who use Facebook usually joined the platform due to a friend recommending them to sign up for a profile. This initial gratification sought is different than the gratification sought through adopting the instant messaging platform ICQ. Individuals adopted ICQ to influence and care for their friends in a positive and intimate manner (Quan-Haase and Young, 2014). The results from this study highlight how different social desires can be obtained through a diverse use of various social media platforms, highlighting how consumers utilize each platform for fulfilling different social gratifications.

The Uses and Gratifications theory examines how people interact with media. Instead of studying how media influences the people who consume it, the Uses and Gratifications theory instead studies, “… who uses what media, how often they use the media, and in what social, historical, and economic contexts” (Quan-Haase and Young, 2014). This shift in studying how individuals interact with media is central to the Uses and Gratifications theory. On top of studying how consumers interact with media the Uses and Gratifications theory examines an individuals’ personal set of values to help determine their media consumption habits. For example, someone who is single, lives alone, and only works part time has vastly different media habits than someone who is married with children and works a full 40-hour workweek.

A practical application of the Uses and gratifications theory can be seen with the streaming service Twitch. Twitch is a platform that enables content creators to livestream themselves playing video games, while a live audience watches the content creator play any video game he or she chooses. In addition, the livestream users can participate in a chatroom, where other people rom around the world can talk with each other and communicate over a shared interest. Streamers can also enable their viewers to donate to their channel, acting as a revenue stream for the content creator. Some streamers have large enough fanbases that contribute enough money so that the streaming becomes the full-time job of the individual playing the video game.

Twitch is so successful because of how much choice a consumer has over their gratifications sought. Streamers can service a plethora of gratifications sought, enabling the viewer who wants to actively donate and participate in online discussion the forum to do so whilst enabling viewers who want to take a more passive role in their viewership. A spectrum of obtained gratification can be sought for all viewers.

cole1The success of Yelp is built upon the difference between gratifications sought and obtained. Yelp, the online review site for restaurants and other service-based businesses enables consumers to either recommend or criticize a business based off the expected gratifications sought and the actual gratifications obtained. If a customer finds that their gratification obtained was lesser than the gratification sought, the customer can leave a negative review if the business. If the customer finds that the gratification they obtained superseded their gratification sought, the customer can leave a positive rating of the experience they had with the business.

This enables potential customers of a restaurant to log onto a prospective establishments Yelp page and look at the data recorded on the gratifications sought compared to gratifications obtained. This enables customers to make more educated


decisions towards where they eat out at and helps inform the consumer over what their gratification level should be at any given establishment. This will enable the customer to have less negative dine-in experiences, thus maximizing gratifications sought when compared to gratifications obtained.


Quan-Haase, A. & Young, A. (2014). The Uses and Gratifications (U&G) Approach as a Lens for Studying Social Media Practice. In The Handbook of Media and Communication Theory. Edited by Robert S. Fortner  and P. Mark Fackler. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118591178.ch15

Image Attribution: Yelp icon: Morgan, 2013, Attribution 4.0 International (CC by 4.0)’Yelp Page: jwalsh, 2007, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)

Written by Cole Wilhite, 2018

Vertical Integration

Vertical Integration is a term that is used to describe a strategy that many businesses use to increase their profits. Vertical integration happens when a company multiplies its production operations and potential into different stages of manufacturing on the same path, such as when a company owns its distributor and/or providers. Vertical integration is extremely useful in helping companies increase profits and helping them to improve their efficiency by decreasing costs such as transportation expenses and production time because time is a very valuable resource in industry. For example, if we consider a random solar power company and this company manufactures their own photovoltaic products plus fabricates the cells that are used to produce said products, this is an excellent portrayal of what a vertically integrated business looks like. In this case, the company had ownership of many products along the supply chain and assumed the manufacturing duties of them, thus conducting vertical integration.

mitch 1Gregory (2017) writes about vertical integration within McDonald’s restaurant chain in his business management article written for the Panmore Institute.  He shares the thought process behind McDonald’s strategic objective and firmly links it to the multitude of products and businesses in their own supply chain. The restaurant’s cost leadership program guarantees them a hefty market share in the low-cost fast food industry. For example, McDonald’s owns facilities that produce standardized mixtures of ingredients. Also, cost minimization is a financial strategic objective based on the cost leadership.

In addition, per Gregory, product innovation is related to McDonald’s broad differentiation generic strategy. This strategy involves minimizing costs to offer products at extremely low prices. As a low-cost provider, McDonald’s offers products that are relatively cheaper compared to other fast food chains. The company also uses broad differentiation as a secondary or supporting generic strategy. This secondary generic strategy involves developing the business and its products to make them distinct from all competitors. For example, “through McCafé products, McDonald’s applies the broad differentiation generic strategy” (Gregory, 2017).  McDonald’s is one of the most famous companies using vertical integration to reduce its overall costs and increase profits. They own factories that produce mixtures of ingredients that they can then distribute to all their stores by McDonald’s trucks. By owning both the ingredient component and the distribution transportation units it is easier to get their product to their restaurants by lower costs. They no longer have to pay for shipping and for assembly.  They also raise their own cattle and process the meat and they own agricultural industries which grow the potatoes for their French fries and their own vegetables for the hamburgers.

Unlike most restaurants who must barter and pay high prices for their own ingredients, McDonald’s is the source of their own food manufacturing.  As further proof of vertical integration strategy, McDonalds also owns most of the land that their stores are placed on so they don’t have to deal with landlords or leasing costs. The use of vertical integration is why McDonald’s is one of the cheapest fast food joints in the world.

A strong example of a media company that utilizes the business strategy of vertical integration very well is Apple Inc. Ben Bajarin (2011) is the Director of Consumer Technology Analysis and Research at Creative Strategies, Inc., and he shares in his article about vertical integration at Apple Inc. in the digital website article for Time Magazine that almost no other company can compete with Apple industries because of the particular way they use vertical integration. He explains in his article that few companies have the right resources to compete directly with Apple as only a small amount of companies have the same structure Apple does.

Apple, Inc. is actually four diverse and thriving companies all wrapped up into one. It’s a hardware company, a software company, a services company, and a retail company. Most technology companies in the world can manage one or two of these disciplines, but only Apple has all four entities working in harmony (Barjarin, 2011).

Apple is one of the most vertically integrated companies due to its global marketing Mitch 2platform and international appeal. By owning and controlling most of its distribution stores, technology services and content providers, it controls the demand and market for the desired product.  As well it controls the major, manufacturing houses and critical components of the production that are needed to make the products. This gives Apple Inc. an instrumental advantage over all other companies in the same industry. “In contrast, most other PC, smartphone and tablet vendors make the hardware (Dell, Toshiba, Motorola, Samsung, etc.), put someone else’s software on it (Windows and Android), add third party services (Google, carrier services, etc.) and then sell it through someone else’s store (Barjarin, 2011).”

It should be noted that vertical integration is a major strategy used by many different companies in many different industries today. One of the most obvious ways it occurs in daily life is through multi-media corporations who may own film production, channels and syndication networks. Laura Daws (2009) writes “The Telecommunications Act of 1996 paved the way for media corporations to obtain multiple holdings in both large and small markets, largely deregulating the media marketplace.” The main goal of creating this scholarly lesson plan with a hands on activity is to share with media educators how students may more easily discover for themselves how vertical integration works, especially as it relates to media.  This lesson plan used in college courses explains that major media outlets can become embroiled in controversial social issues because when there are less voices in the media sphere, there is the larger impact on content distribution, sometimes negating important issues over others.  This is especially true when controlled by the gatekeeper owners of mass-media. Her lesson plan theme seems to indicate that there may be both positive and negative effects in the world of mass media, if viewed in the extreme possible outcomes.

Vertical integration is a crucial way to obtain an upper hand in business profitability and perform above and beyond competitors. It also does a good job of cutting out the middle-man making production all the more efficient and inexpensive. When companies don’t have to reach out to other corporations in order to obtain goods and services it makes the production process simpler allowing them to make the most of their resources, whether that be making burgers or the world’s most popular cell phone.


Barjarin, B. (2011). Why competing with apple is so difficult. Time Magazine.com Retrieved December 05, 2017, from http://techland.time.com/2011/07/01/why-competing-with-apple-is-so-difficult/

Daws, L. B. (2009). Media monopoly: Understanding vertical and horizontal integration. Communication Teacher, 23(4), 148-152. doi:10.1080/17404620903218783

Gregory, L. (2017). McDonald’s generic strategy & intensive growth strategies. Panmore Institute. Retrieved December 05, 2017, from http://panmore.com/mcdonalds-generic-strategy-intensive-growth-strategies

Image Attribution: Image #1 “McDonlads” by Dennis Yang CC by 2.0; Image #2 “Apple Logo” by DigitalRalph CC by 2.0; Image #3 “Apple is Vertically Integrated” created by the author Mitchell Evans and used with his permission

Written by Mitchell Evans, 2017

Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction can be defined as “excessive time playing games, particularly video games” (Struthers, 2014, para 1). This addiction is behavioral, rather than physical, because it primarily affects social responsibilities and interactions (Struthers, 2014). This addiction replaces physical human contact, physical exercise, and risk associated with reality.

Sarah 1Video games are played mostly in order to fulfill psychological needs, and in some instances, these psychological needs becoming fulfilled are what makes them addictive (Babbage, 2014). The most addictive types of games that have been found are Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s), such as World of Warcraft, and
action/shooter games, such as Call of Duty. These types of games allow players to experience an alternative reality, and is addictive due to the rewards that it provides its players.

Symptoms that are commonly attributed with Video game addiction, as reported by William Struthers are, “excessive game-binging, gaming late into the night, a decreased interest in school or occupational pursuits, and anger or frustration when denied access to gaming” (2014, para 6). Struthers also reports that weight gain, lack of personal hygiene, and changes in sleeping habits are also physical signs of video game addiction (2014). These symptoms, being linked to both the physical and psychological well-being of the people suffering, makes the addiction extremely serious.

Males are more likely to become addicted to video games than women are. According to
Campbell, Fabos, and Martin, “this makes sense, given that the most popular games—action shooter games—are heavily geared towards males” (2017, p. 87, para 4). These games specifically are also made to be addictive by the design.

Sarah 2Games that reward players for achievements are found to be more addictive, because they are psychologically rewarding to the players. Rewards are found to be even more rewarding if they are unpredictably given. Ultimately, this depends on the game player and their personality, but games are designed to keep their players playing. Games are also made addictive, and are keeping players engaged longer, by adding exclusive rewards to their games. Games such as Call of Duty offer incentives for playing their older games longer, and reward players for doing this by giving them exclusive offers in their newest released game. For example, the release of Black Ops 3 came with a
Loyalty program, which rewards players if they have reached levels 31 or higher in
Black Ops II, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision Support, 2018). The video game industry is giving incentives for players to play their games even longer, and stay engaged with their games, which as a result is absorbing the time and social lives of the players, thus leading to video game addiction.

There are many dangers to video game addiction that have been proven to affect the social and psychological lives of the people that video games are consuming. Campbell, Fabos, and Martin reported “the more children were addicted, the more prone they were to depression, social phobias, and increased anxiety, which lead to poorer grades in school” (2017, p.87, para 3). Overall, video games, while not a physical substance, can be highly addictive and detrimental to the heath of those that consume them.


Call of Duty: Black Ops III Loyalty Program. (2018) Activision Support. Retrieved from https://support.activision.com/articles/en_US/FAQ/Call-of-Duty-Black-Ops-III-Loyalty-Program

Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Babbage. (2014, February 18). What Makes Video Games Addictive? The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2014/02/electronic-entertainment

Quentin. (2016, August 22). Pixabay [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/xbox-xbox-one-microsoft-joystick-1602822/

Struthers, W. P. (2014). Gaming addiction. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.washcoll.idm.oclc.org/eds/detail/detailvid=3&sid=d1680bd7-51da40d5b529ee2c0935bf1b@sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU=#AN=9441419&db=ers

Image Attribution: The images used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Sarah Bentley, 2018.

Video Game Arcades

Nick 1Video games were first created and popularized in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that video arcades were finally brought to life. An arcade game is a coin operated entertainment machine, and a video arcade therefore, is a public place with a collection of arcade games. This was the next step in gaming technology that had previously been consumed by pinball. Arcades became popular with younger generations by giving them a public place to cheaply play games and hang out. Video arcades created a new social medium between gamers when, for the first ever, players were able to compete with and against each other while standing side by side.

The “Galaxy Game” is the earliest known coin-operated video arcade game which was first installed in 1971 (The History of Video Arcade Games). The original cost was $20,000 to build the machine then would play for 10 cents each game. Once video games popularized in the ’70s, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney went on to co-create a revolutionary company named Atari, Inc. in 1972. Atari went on the create a tennis sports game called PONG which became the first large success of video arcades. 1970-1985 marked the golden era of video games. Dabney and Bushnell are largely credited with the birth of arcade popularity, with their creation of PONG and the success of Atari, Nick 2these two proved that the arcade business could be profitable which lead to ongoing efforts of companies to follow. During this era, there was a rapid spread of video arcades and gaming rooms (June, 2013). The most popular companies rose out of the golden era were Atari, Namco, and Sega. The release of Pac-Man in 1980 by Namco is widely considered the most popular arcade game ever released. The arcade business peaked due to the popularity of Pac-man and similar spin offs that eventually created a bubble for the industry.

Unfortunately, the golden era did not last very long. The death of the video arcade golden age was sooner rather than later. It wasn’t newer technology that drove out arcades, but rather fear of the American public. Many Americans feared the arcade takeover lead to poorly run businesses and to future gambling addictions in children as first posted in Times magazine. At the end of the golden era, video arcades started becoming more commercialized with national chains such as Chuck E. Cheese’s and Dave and Busters became popular (June, 2013). Instead of using coin operated gaming machines, larger businesses began straying away from the coin operated games and moving towards cash loaded swipe cards that are needed to play in the arcade. Video arcades began fading out during the late 80s into the early 90s for a couple of reasons. Video Arcades failed to diversify on a number of levels, namely successfully separating from bars and restaurants which were both much more profitable businesses. Video arcades also suffered as more video games were being produced from video game consoles. Many also attribute the losses that arcades saw entering the mid 1980s in response to the lack of innovation within the niche.


Bmigaming.com. (n.d.). The History Of Video Arcade Games : Who Invented Video Games ?. Visual History Of Video Games, Video Arcade Games and Computer Game. [online] Available at: https://www.bmigaming.com/videogamehistory.htm [Accessed 30 Apr. 2018].

June, L. (2013). For Amusement Only: the life and death of the American arcade. [online] The Verge. Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2013/1/16/3740422/the-life-and-death-of-the-american-arcade-for-amusement-only [Accessed 30 Apr. 2018].

Image Attribution: Both images used are in the public domain

Written by Nick Popolizio, 2018.

Video Game Genres

Since 1972 with the introduction of Atari Pong to the present, video games have become the most popular and profitable modern form of entertainment worldwide. Like with television show genres, a multitude of unique and differentiated genres apply to a large variety of different demographics: gender, sex, age, regional location, etc. Video games in their entirety have, with the growth of technological availability, put themselves at the forefront in gross income for any subset of media.

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First-person shooter Call of Duty (2003)

What differs in video game genres is that it’s format is completely unique and relies more on audience dependence and orientation of player. Video games can be broken down into: adventure, action, casual, puzzle, role-playing, strategy, first person shooter, and social (Konzack 2015). For instance, first person shooters, that became popularized by games like Call of Duty (2003), rely on the player to namely put themselves as the avatar and continue through the game. Roleplaying games, like those that fall in the Sims franchise, put the player in a much more omniscient role over the avatar, giving them much more control and less personal interaction. The broadness of the differing genres and even the differences within each genre allow for an exponential growth of video games to appeal not only do different demographics of people, but to create their own unique audiences. Like in film, certain game franchises over time have built a cult-like following that has engrossed over $30.4 billion dollars in 2016 in the U.S. alone (Entertainment Software Association, 2017).

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Infographic of the popularity of video game genres in the U.S. (2014)

But not all video game genres are created equal. Due to the aforementioned cult-like sensation that erupts from certain games, certain genres within the broad scope of video games have dominated over others. According to the Entertainment Software Association, action and shooter games made up almost half of the video game sales across the country in 2014, with 28.2% and 21.7% respectively (Forbes, 2015). This comes as no surprise, given the immense variations that can come out within genres such as these. Piggybacking off one another, action and shooter games often go hand in hand, with game companies creating games for even the most niche markets and audiences. The most beneficial and profitable thing about video game genres that sets it apart from other genres in media is its ability for widespread diversification. Within the realm of action games, any number of audiences can be targeted and profited off. Games like Minecraft and Spore intentionally target a younger audience, getting them interested in video games at a young age. As they get older and mature, they are introduced to more mature games like the Grand Theft Auto and The Elder Scrolls franchises provide a similar layout with much more mature motifs and imagery.

The lasting effects of video game genres and their ability to transition through life stages with the audience benefits companies largely from the consistent profitization that can come from this parallel with transitional growth and is much in part why video games and their multitude of genres is so prevalent in society today.


Entertainment Software Association. (2017). Press Release: U.S. Video Game Industry Generates $30.4 Billion in Revenue for 2016. Retrieved from                                                http://www.theesa.com/article/u-s-video-game-industry-generates-30-4-billion-revenue-2016/.

Forbes. (2015). America’s Favorite Video Game Genres [Infographic]. Retrieved fromhttps://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/06/26/americas-favorite-video-   game-genres-infographic/#44fd120a5f99.

Konzack, Lars (2015). Video Game Genres. In Encyclopedia of Information Science andTechnology (Vol. 3). Copenhagen, Denmark: Encyclopedia of Information              Science and Technology, Third Edition.

Image Attribution: the images used are on the public domain

Written by Will Hewitt, 2017

Video Game Ratings

According to Roberts (2002), “Video game ratings are labeling systems that index media content (e.g., films, television programs, interactive games, recorded music, websites) primarily to control young people’s access to particular kinds of portrayals” (pg. 841). Ratings give the customers a sense of what the video game entails. The ratings help to tell the customer how old the person who is playing the video game should be. Video game ratings have been an important part of video game composing ever since the first violent video games were first released. According to Roberts (2002), “content ratings are developed in response to public and political pressures to “do something” about media content, pressures that arise when someone makes a case that particular kinds of media depictions threaten youths, if not society in general” (pg. 841). Roberts (2002) also explains: “The underlying assumption is that children and young adolescents are particularly vulnerable to message influences and therefore need to be shielded from certain types of content” (pg. 841).

Video game ratings have been around since 1994 when the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was established by the Interactive Digital Software Association (Campbell 2017). Video games are not required to be rated by the ESRB, but most retailers will only sell games that are rated (Campbell 2017). The ESRB’s main job is to review and dissect video games and accredit one of six ratings that are age-indexed (Roberts 2002). The games are given different ratings based on their content. Accordingmaggie to Roberts (2002), the six categories of ratings the ESRB created are:

  • EC: early childhood, ages three-plus; should contain no material that parents would find inappropriate
  • E: everyone, ages six-plus; may contain minimal violence or some crude language
  • T: teen, thirteen-plus; may contain violence, strong language, or suggestive themes
  • M: mature, seventeen-plus; may contain intense violence or mature sexual themes
  • A: adult, eighteen-plus; may include graphic depictions of sex or violence
  • RP: rate pending, no official rating has been decided yet

Ever since video games began being rated, there have been multiple controversies surrounding them. Everyone has different opinions on what is considered “too violent” or “too sexual”. Especially recently with newer technology, it is easier to make the content and graphics in video games more vivid and detailed. Another major issue in the controversy over ratings is the difference between descriptive and evaluative ratings criteria. According to Roberts (2002), “descriptive approaches attempt to classify content on the basis of concrete, objective criteria about which it is presumed very different individuals can agree. Evaluative approaches attempt to be more sensitive to situational variations by allowing more subjective judgments, but they risk disagreement over just what terms such as “artistic” and “erotic” mean to different people” (pg. 842). The problem then becomes very important as globalization makes the same content accessible to people in different locations that have contrasting viewpoints and value systems (Roberts 2002),


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2017). Media and Culture (11th ed.). New York: Bedford/St. Martins.

Roberts, D.F, & Schement, J. R. (2002). Encyclopedia of Communications and Information (Vol. 3). New York: MacMillan Reference USA.

Image Attribution: The image used in this post is in the Public Domain 

Written by Maggie Cancelmo, 2017.

Walter Benjamin

jordan 1Walter Benjamin was a prominent German cultural critic and philosopher of the Frankfurt School. Benjamin was born on July 15th, 1892 in Berlin, Germany to an upper-middle-class Jewish family. In his youth, Benjamin became interested in culture and anti-authoritarianism. He attended the Friedrich-Wilhelm Gymnasium, a prestigious secondary school, and later joined the German Youth Movement. After avoiding World War I by pretending to have a back injury, Benjamin went on to continue his studies around Germany. Benjamin’s studies took him to Bern, Switzerland where he studied philosophy. In Bern, Benjamin became interested in Zionism and fell under the influence of existential and Marxist philosophers Martin Buber and Ernst Bloch. In 1917, Benjamin married Dora Pollak, who gave birth to their only child later that year. Three years later, Benjamin completed his doctoral dissertation on the concept of art criticism in German Romanticism (Bland, 2013).

Following his studies in Bern, Benjamin moved back to Berlin to start his professional career. After submitting a manuscript for a teaching position at the University of Frankfurt, Benjamin realized that his radical opinions and arguments would not be received well and withdrew his application. Unemployment, coupled with the end of his jordan 2marriage led Benjamin to pursue a career as a freelance scholar. When the Nazis invaded Germany, Benjamin fled to Paris, France where he continued to write and publish his work. As the Nazis moved into France, Benjamin continued south, finding himself in Port Bau, Spain. Thinking the Nazis had discovered him, Benjamin committed suicide and died on September 26th, 1940.

It was not until after he died that Walter Benjamin’s contributions to literary theory, criticism, materialism, and aesthetics were fully appreciated. In his lifetime he published a number of literary works and essays, many of which are considered to be highly influential.

Some of Walter Benjamin’s works include:

  • “The Task of the Translator” (1923)
  • “The Origins of the German Tragic Drama” (1924)
  • “Experience and Poverty” (1933)
  • “The Author as Producer” (1933)
  • “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936)
  • “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940)

Benjamin’s wrote about a variety of topics including children’s books, toys, gambling, folk art, the art of the mentally ill, film, and the illustrated press (Jennings, 2004). In one of his most popular works, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Benjamin discusses the effects of mechanical reproduction on the originality of art. Further, he observes the cultural implications that come with accessibility and the creation of mass media. He argues that, while manual reproduction is sacred and ritualistic, mechanical reproduction can exist in spaces that the original cannot (Benjamin, 1968).


Benjamin, Walter. (1968). “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Illuminations. Ed. Arendt, Hannah. New York: Schocken. 217-251.

Bland, Jr., Addison. (2013). “Walter Benjamin.” In Great Lives from History: The Twentieth Century (Online Edition). Salem Press.

Jennings, Michael. (2004). “Walter Benjamin and the European avant-garde.” In The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin. Ed. Ferris, David. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Image Attribution: “Memorial to Walter Benjamin” image by Wikinaut licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0; “Walter Benjamin” image is licensed as under the public domain.

Written by Jordan Weir, 2018

War of the Worlds

Trish 1War of the Worlds is an 1898 science fiction novel written by British author, Herbert George Wells otherwise known as, H. G. Wells (Hume, 1983). This book contains a fictional plotline of a war between mankind and the extraterrestrial race of Martians. H. G. Wells was born and raised in the city of Bromley, Kent, England in 1866 (Hume, 1983). His novel, War of the Worlds was written in the early years of his writing career where he also wrote many others considered to be scientific-novels such as, The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, Under the Knife and The Invisible Man (Hume, 1983).

Many years later, a man named Orson Welles broadcasted a radio play adaptation of War of the Worlds. First, Orson Welles is an American producer that specialized in theater and the medium of radio (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017: 153). He produced many popular series in which he also acted in as the main characters.

Trish 2On October 31, 1938, Orson Welles produced and broadcasted War of the Worlds on the national radio. During this time, radios were the most popular medium as they were easily accessible and were more affordable for the average American family as compared to a television set. Orson Welles aired this adaptation of the late H. G. Wells’ scientific novel in the style of radio news (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017: 153). An important note of the opening disclaimer was given prior to the airing of the radio play. However, many people that night missed this essential piece of information. In effect, this led to the mass chaos of people panicking in the whole eastern coast of the United States (Campbell, Martin, Fabos, 2017: 153). Some people reported to the major authorities about an extraterrestrial invasion that was currently taking place, while others hurried to nearby shelters in order to protect themselves of what they thought was to come.

Josh Shepperd (2013) explores the invasion of media studies based on the event that took place with Orson Welles’ radio play adaptation. Throughout his research he states, “WOTW turns out to be the subject of the first major commissioned analysis of audience reception that helped to legitimate the reliability of public policy research” (para. 1). This goes back to the issues that educational broadcasters faced in the 1930s, which they were being restrained by the Communications Act of 1934. This act was limiting them in a way as it forbade them from broadcasting any form of news as their products were being deemed un-educational.

In the textbook Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition, the authors give explicit and thorough information on the history of what happened during the War of the Worlds radio play and the chaos it caused along with it. There is more emphasis on Orson Welles as he faced tremendous backlash and a tarnished reputation due to what had happened.

However, due to the amount of publicity he received, he was able to use this to launch his career as a film director. On the other hand, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had begun putting much stricter restraints for warnings, both before, during and after programs air on the radio.


Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B (2017). Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age 11th Edition (153, 290, 488-489). Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Hume, K. (1983). Hidden Dynamics of the War of the Worlds. Philological Quarterly, 62279-292.

Shepperd, J. (2013). From Mercury to Mars: War of the Worlds and the Invasion of Media Studies from Antenna. Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog.

Image Attribution: The images used in this post is in the Public Domain

Written by Patricia Rana, 2017.

Wire Services

Wire services originally began as commercial organizations. They were used as an effective way communicate and convey news and other information about worldwide events, by telegraph lines and the transmissions of radio waves, which then turned into the digital age. Some of the most popular wire services are the Associated Press and Reuters.

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Around the year of “1848 there was a combination of six different newspaper companies who founded the first wire service which used telegraph lines to relay messages from the port of Boston, known as the first transatlantic port” (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018).

By the year of 1856 the company took over and created the New York Associated Press. A couple years later around 1862 The Western Associated Press was formed. Some examples of the importance of wire services that occurred early in their use was around the 1860’s was the coverage of Washington D.C. and the Civil War. Reporters from northern areas were sent to the south to get more coverage of the war. After the reporters got back from Washington D.C.  they used their information and reports to give others back home a personal outlook on the issue which was sent by telegraphs and by wire services.

kaleigh 1As the “advancement of telegraphs and undersea cables [happened] the news wires expanded to South America in 1874” (Thomas Reuters, 2007). Following the electronic age, in 1923 the use of Reuters went on the radio and spread news rapidly. By “1892 the Western Associated Press split from the New York Associated Press and the Associated Press was formed in Chicago Illinois” (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018). As a result of the Associated Press, news was able to travel rapidly, using newspapers and provided individuals with first-hand information surrounding personal stories and stories from other newspapers.

In the 1900’s the newspaper known as the “Chicago Inter Ocean was incorporating the Associated Press, but did not have a membership, the Associated Press moved from Chicago Illinois to New York City” (Pew Research Center,2015). Around 1967 the Associated Press created a deal with a financial information and the company known as the Dow Jones Company. The new company that was formed was called the Associated Press Dow Jones Economic Report.

Wire services have been used throughout history and continue to be used till this day. For example, the Associated Press was used as an effective way to promote business, communication and was used to gain for people to gain knowledge about the events going on in the world such as both World Wars, as well as the Civil War. Till this day “52-62%” (Pew Research Center, 2015) of newspapers correspond the Associated Press. On the other hand, Reuters were used to expand communication through radios and were used for British personal interest.

Pew Research Center (2015) Today’s Washington Press Corps More Digital, Specialized Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2015/12/03/the-role-of-wire-services/

Richard, C. (2016). Media and Culture Mass Communication in A Digital Age
The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2018). The Associated Press Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Associated-Press

Thomas, R. (2007). Reuters: A brief theory Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2007/may/04/reuters.pressandpublishing

Image Attribution: All images are in the public domain

Written by Kayleigh Webb, 2018

Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin is an important critical theorist and philosopher. He argued that technological developments permitted works of art to be reproduced in a way that altered the masses experience of art, films, and theatrical productions. Art has always been reproducible, but mechanical reproduction has allowed for a complete reworking of the understanding of reproduction itself. Benjamin published his theory on the mechanical reproduction of art in 1936, and formed the basis of understanding art in a technologically based world. Benjamin explored how technological reproductions altered the perception of photographs and art, and concluded that the ability to reproduce an image created a lack of originality and understanding. He believed that the mass reproduction of art, created a total loss of experience for the viewer, since a digital reproduction could only be seen as a visual representation, with no historical context. Benjamin argued that technology is changing art in a way that alters societies’ perception of what is considered to be reality within the art and social world.


From a historical context, in order to recreate a work of art, another artist had to make a reproduction. Benjamin believed that this was different because it wasn’t a mechanical reproduction, but rather another artist’s original work. This allowed for the creation of a separate work from the original, because of the artist’s own individual stylistic choices. Benjamin found that art has always been reproducible through history, but technology has allowed reproduction to create controversy on artistic authenticity. Opening up art as reproduction allows for instantaneous access to art, and promotes art as a visual experience, but the historical context of a work becomes lost through time. Benjamin found that the unique existence of a work of art is determined by history, and the viewer can only truly experience a work of art through the understanding of its historical context. He believed that authenticity couldn’t be reproduced, but when original art is reproduced, the original loses a part of its own authenticity and aura, since it is no longer unique. He found uniqueness and permanence to be closely linked to one another, but through mechanical reproduction both are lost. Benjamin expressed that the aura of a work of art is its total uniqueness within time and space, and this becomes distant when it is altered through reproduction, since the reproduction outlives the original work.

Benjamin believed that art reproduction was directed towards political goals rather than towards creating an understanding of art itself. The artist’s mark is effectively erased through art reproduction, resulting in a total detachment of personal connection. Everything within the art world is goal oriented towards consumer culture, where art has been positioned as a commodity rather than an experience. Benjamin differentiated between the idea of reproduction and forgery, and concluded that forgeries could still be considered original in some context, since they were created by an actual artist, rather than experienced indefinitely as a digital copy. He found that the more art is reproduced, the more the actual meaning of the work begins to disappear. When art is reproduced the public is left with a visual representation that becomes nothing more than a reproducible commodity. Benjamin argued that an art piece could only be truly present within space in time, if it is an original that hasn’t been experienced as a reproduction.

Benjamin believed that technology created a world where an art replica and original are indistinguishable from one another, because the experience has become based solely on a visual representation. He also examined the relationship of understanding how the mass audience appreciates art, and found that through the advancements of technology, art has become something that is only appreciated for its aesthetic view. Technology allows for the development of new forms of art such as film and photography, which led to art being focused merely on popular culture.

Benjamin found that photography and film completely transformed art and ended traditional aesthetics. He believed that the experience of art becomes rooted only in the present, since replicas and original works of art can’t be understood as a separate entity anymore. He found that technology allowed for the constant modification of a work of art, which began to focus on quantity over quality for the benefit of consumer culture. When art reproduction is constantly altered there becomes no real state of permanence for a work of art, but rather a continuous instability of never being able to appreciate an original for its uniqueness.


Van Gogh: The Starry Night (1889)

Both Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889) and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503-1506) are two examples of historical art pieces that have been transformed into commodities through the advancement of technology and the media. Both of these paintings can be identified by the masses of society, but only as a visual representation, since most of the viewers are lacking in the knowledge of the historical background on the subjects. The masses have developed a feeling of being cultured because of the ability to identify a particular art piece. To most members of society these works of art have become nothing more than another image. Art reproduction reinforces the idea of living in a simulation by taking away the historic background of artists and their work. When these pieces are viewed in person they no longer have significance in time or space, because they aren’t appreciated as an original. The commercialization of art has allowed there to be no differentiation between an original work of art and a copy.


The Starry Night (1889) reproduction on a mug

Both of these works have become icons of mass consumption. Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889) and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503-1506) have been manipulated into a new form of art that can constantly be reworked and reimagined through photographic reproduction and the media. Reproducing these works of art takes away artistic ownership, and reproduced images are allowed to outlive the original through time. Technology has allowed the media to commercialize art as a commodity rather than focus on the importance of experiencing the artwork.

Benjamin argued that the loss of the aura isn’t necessarily bad or good, but rather it opens up the ability to question how reproducing art is politicized as a commodity He believed that photography was merely a way of documentation, which destroyed the aura of an original work, as well as the tangible experience between viewer and art. He found that the masses bought consumer products containing art replications in order to feel cultured within society, but their understanding of art was only visual. Benjamin found that members of society were reinforcing simulation by experiencing art in a passive way that had no basis in its historical nature.

A traditional work of art is considered unique and valued because of its exclusivity, but once a work is duplicated its aura is lost. Benjamin argued that photographs have no aura, and take away the identity of an artist, where an artist’s unique touch ceases to exist, resulting in a loss of cultural context. The immense quantity of reproduced art has created mass engagement of the public, but the public has a limited understanding of the context of a work. The reproduction of art has become a diversion, but art requires direct attention and concentration. Today more than ever, art has a basis as merely a visual representation, where the audience no longer relates to the historical side of a work of art. Benjamin concluded that the experience of art needs to be participatory and interactive, but through reproduction there becomes no interaction, and the simulation of societies’ false reality becomes reinforced.


Benjamin, Walter. 1968. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. New York: Schocken Books Inc.

Laughey, Dan. 2007. Key Themes in Media Theory. New York, NY: Two Penn Plaza.

Mills, Brett, and David M. Barlow. 2012. Reading Media Theory. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge.

Image Attribution: “Walter Benjamin” by Dianakc (CC: PD-US); “Van Gogh: The Starry Night (1889)” by Sowbarnika.S (CC: 4.0); “The Starry Night (1889) reproduction on a mug” by Andre Engels (CC: 2.0); “Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa (1503-1506)” source: Musée du Lourve (CC: PD-US); “Art and Technology” by Travailwiki (CC: 4.0)

Written by Rachel Frebert, 2018