Mass Media Theory Essay

1086 Words5 Pages
The mass media have diverse functions in meeting the audiences ' needs of information. In the classical theory of functionalism, the media have several social functions. In 1948, Harold Lasswell revealed three main social functions of media: as a provider of information about events around the community; as explanation provider about the relationships amongst each part within the event; and as a transmission channel of the dominant culture including the common values that exist in the community. Wright, in 1960, added the fourth social function, namely as an entertainment provider. Lastly, the fifth function was written by McQuail which he called as mobilization, in which the media is participating on the campaign about various social objects…show more content…
Whereas the public as the audience is likely considered to be passive in terms of finding information. In classical theories, proponents of Liberal Pluralism as well as Marxism – despite their opposite opinion about the function of the media – are equally implying the media dominance over the public, in which public 's positions are described powerless. Walter Lippmann, as one of the liberal pluralists for example, states the importance of journalists ' position in the mass media industry in order to help the audience interprets events and political policies. The public is considered to be too busy taking care of their daily interests, so they need to be helped in absorbing the information (Lippmann, 1927, pp. 30-34; 44-45). Whereas from the opposite side, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and also their supporters such as Antonio Gramsci and Noam Chomsky, argue that the mainstream mass media industry is just a part of the agenda setting and acts as an extension of the hegemony of the ruling class to spread the dominant ideology amongst the audience (Allan, 2010: pp. 17-19; Chomsky, 1997; Femia, 1981: p.…show more content…
Naturally, journalists working in mainstream mass media actually are never interested in making ordinary citizens ' voices as news sources, nor as audiences that influence editorial decisions. However, with this participatory practice, media and journalists have a responsibility to provide "a channel, forum or platform for extramedia voices" (Christians et.al., 2009 as quoted in Reich, 2011, p. 99) regardless its central role in observing and informing what happens in society. In order to maintain its existence, the media must facilitate the audiences to be active in the discussion of public issues (Leonard, 1999 as quoted in Reich, 2011: p. 99). This has given a new role to journalists and media managers, that is comment moderators, making decisions about which audience 's comment is published and the which one is not (Hermida, 2011: p. 183). This role is similar to what used to be known as gatekeeping, but the material is derived from free discussions in the audiences '
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