B. A. Mass Communication First Year Notes

Table of Content

Biologically – “an activity by an organism that changes or has the potential to change the behavior of other organisms. ” “The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior,” Therefore, communication is not just sending and receiving messages but also involves countless ways of keeping in touch and being connected – by not just words and music, pictures and print, postures and plumages, to every move that catches someone’s eye and every sound that resonates upon another’s ears.

Paul Watzlavick, an Austrian-American psychologist, once said, “One cannot not communicate”. He means that every behavior is a kind of communication and because behavior does not have a counterpart (there is no anti-behavior), it is not possible not to communicate. Examples of this include facial gestures (smiling, frowning), body language (arms crossed, giving someone the “finger”, legs shaking resembling nervousness, sitting upright giving someone their full attention), and the impression you give to others with your appearance (dress, body image, body odor).

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Also, the tone of your voice can be expressed non-verbally. For instance, if you are saying one thing, but your tone of voice is saying another, then that reflects how you are truly feeling without speaking a word about it (yelling and crying while saying your okay). Nature and Scope of Communication Communication is part of the very fabric of society. It takes place at all levels between peoples and between institutions from government to people,, from people back to government and through many channels both interpersonal and mediated.

For living beings – humans and animals, the need for communication is as basic as the hunger for food and drink and even more so. The need for communication is both individual and social need. It is both a natural individual demand and a requirement of social existence to use communication resources in order to engage in the sharing of experiences through words or symbol mediated interaction. The severest punishment for a child is to be isolated to be left alone not to be spoken to. Grown ups too and especially the aged need company, need to communicate.

Society punishes criminals by locking them up in solitary cells, thus starving them of the basic need, and indeed the fundamental right to communicate. Communication involves active interaction with our environments – physical, biological and social. Deprived of this interaction we would not be aware of whether we are safe or in danger, whether hated or loved or satisfied or hungry. However, most of us take this interaction for granted unless we experience some deprivation of it. When that happens we adapt ourselves to the environment so that we don’t lose touch, in both the literal and figurative senses.

For to lose touch is to suffer isolation. Types of Communication Communication is classified into four types based on the size of the social group or the number of people involved in the experience of communication. 1. Intrapersonal Communication: Interpersonal communication is individual reflection, contemplation and meditation. For eg. Transcendental meditation or transpersonal communication where one communicates with God, religious and monastic life, in ashrams and places of prayer. 2. Interpersonal communication is the direct face to face communication between two individuals.

It is personal, direct and intimate, allowing for maximum interaction and exchange in word and gesture. All interpersonal exchange is therefore a communion and a sharing at the most intimate and open level. It is total communication for it takes within its compass words, body movements, physical characteristics, body odors, and even clothes.

Interpersonal communication has three stages:

  1. Phatic Stage: Phatic stage where individuals exchange ritualized greetings like – Hi, How are you? “How is everyone at home’ etc. People use phatic communication to break ice and start a conversation.
  2. Personal Stage: This stage introduces more personal elements into our conversations. In this stage individuals are willing to share personal information. Professional discussions are also an example of personal stage. They talk about personal interests but do not go beyond it.
  3. Intimate stage: This stage is reserved for friends and family depending on the degree of intimacy and closeness of the relationship.

Group communication involves more than two people. The larger the group the less personal and less intimate is the possibility of exchange. Group communication is thus a more complex process than interpersonal communication. The level of mutual participation and understanding among the members suffers as a result. In interpersonal communication if the understanding and participation is not complete there is an increased possibility of checking up and correcting misunderstanding much quickly and easily. However, in group communication, this is possible but with difficulty, because feedback is not instantaneous as in the interpersonal communication. Moreover in group communication it is difficult to measure and respond to feedback.

Interpersonal communication is more pervasive and influential because the people involved can share much more than just words. In group communication particularly where group is large, deception and pretence cannot be detected immediately. That is why we associate acting with group communication – theatre, religious services, dance performances, carnivals, the Kumbh mela, Raslila, and other folk events are examples of group communications. Group communication is effective in terms of reaching a wider audience but not so in terms of understanding and feedback.

Group communication has been extended by the tools of mass communication: books, the press, the cinema, radio, tv and internet. Messages are disseminated to a much wider audience as opposed to the interpersonal and group communication. But like group communication, the larger the social group becomes, the more difficult it gets to trace how effective our communication is and getting feedback is all the more tedious and cumbersome. Mass Communications It is the process of delivering information, ideas and attitudes to a sizable and diversified audience through use of media developed for that purpose.

The art of mass communication is much more difficult than that of face to face communication. The communicator who is addressing thousands of differtent personalities at the same time cannot adjust an appeal to meet their individual reactions. An approach that convinces one part of the audience may alienate another part. That successful communicator is one who finds the right method of expression to establish empathy with the largest possible number of individuals in the audience. Nature and Scope of Mass Communications:

  • Mass Medium – A mass medium makes it possible for the message to reach far beyond the immediate proximity of the sender. A few hundred feet may be all the distance the human voice can project to a crowd without the aid of public address system. A mass medium can take that same message around the world.
  • Limited Sensory Channels – The presence of a mass medium also limits the number of sensory channels upon which we can draw. When we sat in the auditorium and listened to the politician, all of our senses could take part in the communication process. For examp;e after the speech we might have shaken hands with the politician. With mass we might only be able to hear and see the politician.
  • Impersonal Communication – In inter-personal communication the first meeting may be impersonal but as the relationship grows, the communication becomes more and more personal. But in mass communication, it is impersonal.  A gatekeeper is the person who, by selecting, changing and rejecting messages can influence the flow of information to a receiver or group of receivers. A gatekeeper can be a news editor who edits the reporter’s copy, a film producer, who cuts a scene from the original script and so on.

There are three functions of the gatekeeper

  • to limit the information we receive by editing this information before it is disseminated to us;
  • to expand the information we receive by giving us additional facts or view;
  • to reorganize or reinterpret the information.

The feedback in mass communication is not as immediate or complete as it is in face to face communication. And since mass communication involves a chain or network of individuals, the feedback intended for one person in the chains is likely to reach a different member of the chain.

Moreover, it is sometimes impossible for the source in mass communication to respond to make public all the feedback that is received. Process of Mass Communication: Many thinkers tried to analyze and understand the process of communication in the forms of various models. The most significant contribution to the understanding of the process of communications is by:

Aristotle. Aristotle, writing 300 years before the birth of Christ, provided an explanation of oral communication that is still worthy of attention. He called the study of communication “rhetoric” and spoke of three elements within the process. He provided us with this insight: Rhetoric falls into three divisions, determined by the three classes of listeners to speeches. For of the three elements in speech-making — speaker, subject, and person addressed — it is the last one, the hearer that determines the speech’s end and object.

Here, Aristotle speaks of a communication process composed of a speaker, a message and a listener. Note, he points out that the person at the end of the communication process holds the key to whether or not communication takes place. Our failure to recognize what Aristotle grasped thousands of years ago is a primary cause, if not the primary one, for communication failure. We fail to recognize the importance of the audience at the end of the communication chain.

HAROLD LASWELL (1948) According to Laswell the simplest way to define the process of communication is by answering the following questions- With what EFFECT To WHOM Through which CHANNEL said WHAT WHO Harold Lasswell, a political scientist, developed a much quoted formulation of the main elements of communication: “Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect. “2 This summation of the communications process has been widely quoted since the 1940s. The point in Lasswell’s comment is that there must be an “effect” if communication takes place. If we have communicated, we’ve “motivated” or produced an effect. It’s also interesting to note that Lasswell’s version of the communication process mentions four parts — who, what, channel, whom. Three of the four parallel parts mentioned by Aristotle — speaker (who), subject (what), person addressed (whom). Only channel has been added. Most modern-day theorists discuss the four parts of the communication process, but use different terms to designate them.

SHANNON AND WEAVER MATHEMATICAL MODEL (1949) Shannon and Weaver, engineers for the Bell Telephone Company, designed the most influential of all early communication models. Their goal was to formulate a theory to guide the efforts of engineers in finding the most efficient way of transmitting electrical signals from one location to another (Shannon and Weaver, 1949). Shannon and Weaver were not particularly interested in the sociological or psychological aspects of communication. Instead, they wanted to devise a communications system with as close to 100 percent efficiency as possible.

You’ll note that the Shannon and Weaver diagram has essentially the same parts as the one formulated by Aristotle and also by Laswell. It’s true the parts have different names, and a fourth component — in this case the transmitter — is included. However, this model has an interesting additional element. Shannon and Weaver were concerned with noise in the communications process. Noise, Weaver said, “may be distortions of sound (in telephony, for example) or static (in radio), or distortions in shape or shading of picture (television), or errors in transmission (telegraph or facsimile), etc.

The “noise” concept introduced by Shannon and Weaver can be used to illustrate “semantic noise” that interferes with communication. Semantic noise is the problem connected with differences in meaning that people assign to words, to voice inflections in speech, to gestures and expressions and to other similar “noise” in writing. Semantic noise is a more serious problem or barrier to developing effective communications than most realize. It is hard to detect that semantic noise has interfered with communication. Too often the person sending a message chooses to use words and phrases that have a certain meaning to him or her.

However, they may have an altogether different meaning to individuals receiving the message. In the interest of good communication, we need to work to hold semantic noise to the lowest level possible. We should be aware that there is a semantic noise in face-to-face verbal communication just as there is static noise, for example, in radio communication.

OSGOOD AND SHRAMM’S COMMUNICATION MODEL, 1954 Wilbur Schramm, a well-known communications theorist, developed a straightforward communications model in his book The Process and Effects of Mass Communications.

In Schramm’s model he notes, as did Aristotle, that communication always requires three elements — the source, the message and the destination. Ideally, the source encodes a message and transmits it to its destination via some channel, where the message is received and decoded. Encoding refers to the activities that a source goes through to translate thoughts and ideas into a form that may be perceived by the senses. When you have something to say, your brain and your tongue work together to form words and spoken sentences.

Therefore, in communication, the speaker encodes thoughts into words and similarly with a device like telephone, the waves are encoded into electrical energy and sent across. Decoding process is the exact opposite of the encoding process. It consists of activities that translate or interpret physical messages into a form that has eventual meaning for a receiver. As you read these lines you’re a decoding a message. If you are playing music while decoding these lines, you are decoding two messages simultaneously – one aural and one visual.

Therefore, in communication, the receiver decodes words and understands them and similarly in telephone communications the electrical energy is decoded back into sound waves. Feedback refers to those responses of the receiver that shape and alter the subsequent messages of the source. Feedback represents a reversal of the flow of communication. The original source becomes the receiver; the original receiver becomes the new source. Feedback is useful to the source because it allows the source to attempt to change some element in the communication process.

Feedback can be positive or negative. Positive feedback usually encourages further communication and negative feedback can attempt to change the communication and even terminate it. Schramm model suggests that the process of communication is not linear as discussed in the Laswell’s and Shannon and Weaver’s models. Instead, the process of communication is circular and continuous with the presence of feedback and the sender and receiver keep exchanging roles as vice-versa in the process.

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B. A. Mass Communication First Year Notes. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from


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