“…what if the sign did not relate either to the object or to meaning, but to the promotion of the sign as sign? And what if information did not relate either to the event or the facts, but to the promotion of information itself as event? And more precisely today: what if television no longer related to anything except itself as message?”

Jean Baudrillard, Screened Out

What is Mass Media

The mass media are all those media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication. The organizations that control these technologies, such as television stations or publishing companies, are also known as the mass media.  This is important because about 95% of all mass media including theme parks, movie studios, television and radio broadcast networks and programming, video news, sports entertainment, telecommunications, wireless phones, video games software, electronic media and music companies are owned by the following companies: Time Warner, VIACOM, Vivendi Universal, Walt Disney and News Corp.

What that Means?

Freedom of speech, and freedom of press are essential to our democratic process  because they allow citizens  to be adequately informed and subsequently vote according to their own interest. It’s stupid to think that with most of news outlets owned by 5 companies that we can here  clear non-biased media. People interact with media to create their own meanings out of the images and messages they receive if they get skewered info unknowingly the results will be definitely off. What’s important to note is how people can be manipulated 

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

In 1997, J. R. Finnegan Jr. and K. Viswanath identified 3 main effects or functions of mass media.

  1. The Knowledge Gap: The mass media influences knowledge gaps due to factors including “the extent to which the content is appealing, the degree to which information channels are accessible and desirable, and the amount of social conflict and diversity there is in a community”.
  2. Agenda Setting: People are influence in how they think about issues due to the selective nature of what media choose for public consumption.
  3. Cultivation of Perceptions: The extent to which media exposure shapes audience perceptions over time is known as cultivation.

Why You grab your bag every time  you see me?

Mass media has played a large role in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans. The media focus on African-American in the contexts of crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behaviour has resulted in a distorted and harmful public perception of African-Americans. African-Americans have been subjected to oppression and discrimination for the past few hundred years.

According to Stephen Balkaran in his article Mass Media and Racism,

“The media has played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to African-Americans’ continuing status as second-class citizens”. This has resulted in an uncertainty among white Americans as to what the genuine nature of African-Americans really is. Despite the resulting racial divide, the fact that these people are undeniably American has “raised doubts about the white man’s value system”. This means that there is a somewhat “troubling suspicion” among some Americans that their white America is tainted by the black influence.

Interesting Memes

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