WEEK 5 Models of Communication

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Models of Communication
•Hypodermic Needle
•Diffusion of Innovation
•Gate keeping
•Agenda Setting
•Uses and Gratifications
•Spiral of Silence
Hypodermic Needle/ Magic Bullet Theory
•Harold Lasswell (1927) is one of the earliest modern mass communication theorists and researchers.
•Lasswell developed an innovative theory of the effect of mass communication during World War I. He based his theory of mass
communication on 'hypodermic needle' model.
•The hypodermic needle model is a model of communications also referred to as the magic bullet perspective.
Hypodermic Needle continued…
•The Hypodermic Needle Model, known as the Magic Bullet Theory by critics, is the idea that media penetrate people's minds and instantly
create effects.
•Most commonly referred to as Magic Bullet Theory, this theory developed from a combination of Freudanism and Behaviorism.
•The most basic idea behind this theory is the idea that media stimuli operate like magic bullets that penetrate people's minds and instantly
create associations between strong emotions and specific concepts.
Hypodermic Needle continued…
•He observed mass media as an effective way of persuading audience for political leaders such as Hitler, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Musolini.
•According to 'hypodermic needle' model or 'magic bullet' theory, human beings are given uniform instincts and live in a mass society where a
single set of social norms and values can not control people from various origins.
•Under these circumstances, people receive and interpret media messages in a similar way. Therefore, mass communication can influence
people's thoughts and behaviors immediately and effectively.
Hypodermic Needle continued…
•So the theory implies the idea that the mass media are so powerful that they can 'inject' their messages into the audience, or that, like a magic
bullet, they can be precisely targeted at an audience, who irresistibly fall down when hit by the bullet
Hypodermic Needle continued…
•In brief, it is the idea that the makers of media messages can get us to do whatever they want us to do.
•Propaganda Theory (aka Magic Bullet) was the first systematic study of mass communication.
•It focused attention on why media might have powerful effects,
•Tried to identify personal, social, and cultural factors that could enhance the media's power to have effects, and focused attention on the use of
campaigns to cultivate symbols.
•However, Propaganda theory underestimated the abilities of average people to evaluate messages, ignored personal, social, and cultural
factors that limit media effects, and overestimates the speed and range of media effects.
War of the Worlds
•The classic example of the application of the Magic Bullet Theory was illustrated on October 30, 1938 when Orson Welles and the newly
formed Mercury Theater group broadcasted their radio edition of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds."
•On the eve of Halloween, radio programming was interrupted with a "news bulletin" for the first time. What the audience heard was that
Martians had begun an invasion of Earth in a place called Grover's Mill, New Jersey
War of the Worlds
•A wave of mass hysteria disrupted households, interrupted religious services, caused traffic jams and clogged communication systems. People
fled their city homes to seek shelter in more rural areas, raided grocery stores and began to ration food. The nation was in a state of chaos, and
this broadcast was the cause of it.
• It became known as the "Panic Broadcast" and changed broadcast history, social psychology, civil defense and set a standard for provocative
entertainment. Approximately 12 million people in the United States heard the broadcast and about one million of those actually believed that a
serious alien invasion was underway.
War of the Worlds
•Media theorists have classified the "War of the Worlds" broadcast as the classical example of the Magic Bullet Theory. This is exactly how the
theory worked, by injecting the message directly into the "bloodstream" of the public, attempting to create a uniform thinking.
•The effects of the broadcast suggested that the media could manipulate a passive and gullible (saf, enayi, kolay kanan) public, leading
theorists to believe this was one of the primary ways media authors shaped audience perception.
Hypodermic Needle continued…
•Several factors contributed to this ‘strong effects’ theory of communication, including;
•The fast rise and popularization of radio and television
•The emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda
•The Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children, and
•The Payne Fund studies were developed by the Motion Picture Research Council, which was working on the development of a national
policy concerning motion pictures, especially concerning children. Motion Pictures and Youth is the first in a series of thirteen writings
that share the findings of the research done concerning the influence of movies on children. This particular study was set up to discover the
effect in five areas: information, attitudes, emotions, health, and conduct.
•Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party.
Hypodermic Needle continued…
To summarize:
–Hypodermic needle theory suggests that all members of an audience ‘read’ a text the same way and get the same things out of it. The
metaphor of a hypodermic needle is a reference to how media are assumed to be injecting all audience members with the same message.
–Mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with appropriate messages
designed to trigger a desired response.
–Both images used to express this theory (a bullet and a needle) suggest a powerful and direct flow of information from the sender to the
Limited Effects Theories
•There were not many researches that supported the powerful effects of mass communication.
•Rather, key research finding suggest that
–mass communication is not effective in changing audiences’ attitudes,
–audience selectively expose themselves to media messages which decrease effectiveness of communication, and
–people are not influenced by politicians’ messages in election campaigns.
Two-step flow of Information Theory
•Two-step Flow - the term was used by Katz and Lazarsfeld to describe their observation that media messages flow from first the media to
opinion leaders and then to the rest of the audience.
•The important point is that their research demonstrated that media effects are mediated by the pattern of our social contacts.
•They concluded that the media have limited effects.
Two-step flow of Information continued…
• The ‘two-step flow theory’ suggests that mass communication reaches and affects people in a two-step process. First, the media influence
opinion leaders, second, the opinion leaders influence others.
•That is, in the first step, the media influence opinion leaders, and then in the second step these opinion leaders influence others with whom
they have direct contact in groups.
•This theory suggests that groups to which individuals belong can have significant impact on their voting behavior.
•Gatekeepers: Those with the power to determine who or what gets to pass through a certain point. Gatekeepers include the editors who
determine which stories are used in newspapers and on television and radio news programs. In a broad sense, gatekeepers determine which
programs and films we see, what songs we hear, etc.
•In other words, the individuals in media organizations who decide what will be shown or written about are referred to as gatekeepers.
•For newspapers and for radio and TV news shows, these gatekeepers determine what the important news is on a given day and the relative
prominence the various stories will receive.
Gatekeeping continued…
•Research on the gatekeeping function in media goes back to the 1950s, when journalism scholars started investigating the role of newspaper
wire editors. It has since expanded to consider the whole process of the selection of events to be dealt with in the news media.
•The research and theory of gatekeeping had originated in the work of Kurt Lewin, 1947. He observed that information always flows along
certain channels which contain ‘gate areas’ where decisions are made. This idea was taken up in 1950 by David Manning White. In 1969 the
theory was revisited by A. Z. Bass who differentiated among different gatekeeping roles.
Gatekeeping continued…
A number of factors affect the decision making of gatekeepers, such as:
–The organizations they work for, the media in which they work
–Their own socioeconomic status.
–Selecting topics for inclusion in a day’s news show or the daily newspaper is, after all, a subjective matter. What is important to a liberal
democrat may not be important to a conservative democrat, and what is important for a man may not be important for a woman.
Gatekeeping continued…
•Gatekeeping theory demonstrates to us that the news we get is someone’s view of what is important news or news that will attract and keep the
attention of readers or audiences – not necessarily what is important news.
•We can also think of news programs’ camera shots as gatekeeping, for though they show us images of ‘reality’ what we see reflects
someone’s decision about which images to shoot and then use on the air. Thus where there are media, there is always a kind of manipulation
going on
Gatekeeping continued…
•We can also think of news programs’ camera shots as gatekeeping, for though they show us images of ‘reality’ what we see reflects
someone’s decision about which images to shoot and then use on the air. Thus where there are media, there is always a kind of manipulation
going on.
•We can see a link between gatekeeping and agenda setting. The information that gatekeepers let through their gates becomes the material that
sets our agendas.
The Agenda Setting Theory
•The Agenda-Setting Theory says that the media (mainly news media) aren’t always successful at telling us what to think, but they are quite
successful at telling us what to think about.
•Theorists: Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw
•Date: 1972/1973
Agenda Setting continued…
•The mass communication set the agenda for our decision making and thus influence our social and political lives.
•Agenda-setting is a process by which the mass media communicate the relative importance of various issues to the public.
•The more importance the media give to an issue or event, the more importance the public will attach to it.
Agenda Setting continued…
•It is generally held that the media, and more precisely the texts that carry, do not necessarily tell us how or what to think.
•Instead many media theorists suggest, the media provide a frame of reference and tell us what topics to think about.
•That is, mass communication determine not what we think, but what we talk about.
•In determining the subjects we think about, the media or/and mass communication set our agendas and ultimately shape our decision making
on political and social issues.
Agenda Setting continued…
•Advertisers argue that people cannot buy products they have never seen or heard of, in the same light, agenda theorists suggest that people can
become concerned only about topics that have been brought to their attention.
•In our newspapers and news programs and other programs certain matters are given more prominence than others, and this phenomenon
provides us with a scale of importance that also has social and political implication.
Agenda Setting continued…
•As Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw (1976) two prominent agenda-setting theorists have written:
“Audiences not only learn about public issues and
other matters from the media, they also learn how
much importance
to attach to an issue or topic form the emphasis the media put on it”.
•Agenda-setting theorists tend to focus upon news media rather than mass communication in general, but it could be argued that dramatic
programs, in dealing with certain subjects and calling them to people’s attention, also have an impact on the agenda-setting process.

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