This review was submitted to my professor in PhD Communication, Communication 301 subject. Written last semester (March 2009). Forgive me if it sounds too geeky. Hehe.
- Theories. McQuail differentiates media theories into five types: (1) Social-Scientific, which provides explanations about nature based on systematic, objective, tested and validated observation of mass media and its effects; (2) Cultural, which sometimes challenges observations based solely through quantifiable methods; (3) Normative, which analyzes how media should operate within the working conditions of certain social values; (4) Operational, how practical applications are used by media practitioners; and (5) Common-sense, or how we all experience media use. McQuail mentions several models under these realms but concludes that, because of their diversity, they are difficult to reconcile.
- Structures. This part is a three-chapter discussion on media accountability for its use within a social structure, policies with regards to business and political systems, and driving forces on global media governance. This is the part where McQuail becomes highly technical as he incorporates not only the economic and sociocultural aspects of media into the equation, he also includes technology-driven mediation. The concept of “World System” is introduced here.
- Organizations. This area focuses on media organizations, how the demands and pressures surrounding these – requirements in the massive production of news and culture, compounded by the personal and professional predilection – are promoting the production of media culture.
- Content. Covers issues and methods of analysis for content. McQuail then breaks content down to several genres. He does not stop citing theories nor does he end with simple descriptions of media in this aspect. He elaborates that there is no “true meaning” as it is always between the producers (sender), their recipients and the message being sent. The focal point of this part is always in reference to news.
- Audience. The audiences are responsible for the existence of mass communication: the listeners, viewers, readers, those who interact with new media. This section deals with audience theories and doesn't stop at answering the whys of media use, it also gets into the measurement of audience – the determinants and correlations in their social and cultural life.
- Effects. Media Effects seem to be the very core of this book. It has been emphasized in the beginning and further emphasized by the conclusion. Theories arise from the researchers' desire to explain the causation in media effects and many disagreements have also been named. This is also where public opinion is highlighted, with much weight concentrated upon the negativities resulting from media use, such as sex and violence.
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