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Sable's Review Questions
A Critical Approach
1 Define culture, mass communication, and mass media, and explain their interrelationships.
Culture may be defined as the symbols of expression that individuals, groups, and societies use to make sense of daily life and to articulate their values. Mass Communication the process of designing and delivering cultural messages and stories to large and diverse audiences through media channels as old as the book and as the Internet. Mass Media are the cultural industries – the channels of communication – that produce and distribute songs, novels, newspapers, movies, Internet services, and other cultural products to large numbers of people.
2 What are the key technological breakthroughs that accompanied the transition to the point and electronic eras? Why were these changes significant?
The rise of film at the turn of the twentieth century and the development of radio in the 1920s were early signposts, but the electronic phase of the information age really began in the 1950s and 1960s. The dramatic impact of television on daily life marked the arrival of a new visual and electronic era.
3 Explain the linear model of mass communication and its limitation.
According to the linear model, mass communication is a component system, made up of senders (the authors, producers, and organizations) who transmit messages (the programs, texts, images, sounds, and ads). Although the linear model explains certain aspects of the communication process, media messages do not usually flow smoothly from a sender at point A to a receiver at point Z.
4 In looking at the history of popular culture, explain why newer forms of media seem to threaten status quo values.
The mass media plays a key role in changing individual awareness, cultural attitudes, and even public policy.
5 Describe the skyscraper model of culture. What are its strengths and limitations?
The top floors of the building house high culture, such as ballet, the symphony, art museums, and classic literature. The bottom floors – and even the basement – house popular or low culture, including such icons as soap operas, rock music, radio shock jocks, and video games.
6 Describe the map model of culture. What are its strengths and limitations?
A map model depicts culture in a more complex way, spreading in more directions. Culture phenomena – such as the stories we read in books or watch at the movies – offer places to go that are conventional, recognizable, stable, and comforting. Our culture’s storehouse of stories may tend toward the innovative, unfamiliar, unstable, and challenging.
7 What are the chief differences between modern and postmodern values?
The modern period is from the full-blown arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century celebrating the individual, believing in rational order, working efficiently, and rejecting tradition.
The postmodern period is from the 1950s to the present opposing hierarchy, diversifying and recycling culture, questioning scientific reasoning, and embracing paradox.
8 What are the five steps in the critical process? Which of these is the most difficult and why?
Description: paying close attention, taking notes, and researching the subject under study. Analysis: discovering and focusing on significant patterns that emerges from the description stage. Interpretation: asking and answering the “What does that mean?” and “So what?” questions about one’s findings. Evaluation: arriving at a judgment about whether something is good, bad, mixed, or mediocre, which involves subordinating our personal taste to the critical assessment resulting from the first three stages. Engagement: taking some action that connects our critical perspective with our role as citizens to question our media institutions, adding our own voice to the process of shaping the cultural environment.
9 What is the difference between cynicism and criticism?
Cynicism an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrusts of the integrity or professed motives of others. Criticism is the act of criticizing, especially adversely.
10 Why is the critical process important?
Developing an informed critical perspective and becoming media literate allows us to participate in a debate about media culture as a force for both democracy and consumerism.
And the rise of modern journalism
1 What are the limitations of a press that serves only partisan interests? Why did the earliest papers appeal mainly to more privileged readers?
Political papers, known as the partisan press, generally pushed the plan of the particular political group that subsidized the paper. Readership was primarily confined to educated or wealthy men who controlled local politics and commerce.
2 How did newspapers emerge as a mass medium during the penny press era? How did content changes make this happen?
When cheaper papers combined with increased literacy, penny papers soon began competing with conventional six-cent papers.
3 What are the two main features of yellow journalism? How have Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst contributed to newspaper history?
Labeled the era of yellow journalism, this late 1800s development emphasized profitable papers that carried exciting human-interest stories, crime news, large headlines, and more readable copy. Pulitzer and Hearst focused on lurid, sensational stories and appealed (and pandered) to immigrant readers by using large headlines and bold layout designs.
4 Why did objective journalism develop? What are its characteristics? What are its strengths and limitations?
Throughout the mid-1800s, the more a newspaper appeared not to take sides, the more its readership base could be extended (although editorial pages were often rabidly supportive of particular political candidates).
5 Why did interpretive forms of journalism develop in the modern era? What are the limits of objectivity?
By the 1920s, the more factual or “informational” model of news with the reporter as a “detached observer” had become the standard for most mainstream journalism. Modern journalism had undermined an early role of the partisan press – that of offering analysis and opinion. But with the world becoming more complex in the modern age, some papers began to re-explore the analytical function of news.
6 How would you define literary journalism? Why did it emerge in such an intense way in the 1960s? How is literary journalism an attack on objective news?
By the late 1960s, many people were criticizing America’s major social institutions. A number of reporters responded to the criticism by rethinking the framework of conventional journalism.
7 What is the difference between consensus and conflict oriented newspapers?
Consensus-oriented journalism carries articles on local school, social events, town government, property crimes, and zoning issues. Conflict-oriented journalism is in which front-page news is often defined primarily as events, issues, or experiences that deviate from social norms.
8 What role have ethic, minority, and oppositional newspapers played in the United States?
Historically, small-town weeklies and daily newspapers have served predominantly white, mainstream readers.
9 Why have African American newspapers struggled to maintain their circulation levels over the past two decades?
First, television and specialized black radio stations tapped into the limited pool of money that businesses allocated for advertising. Second, some advertisers, to avoid controversy, withdrew their support when the black press started giving favorable coverage to the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Third, the loss of industrial urban jobs in the 1970s and 1980s not only diminished readership but also hurt small neighborhood businesses, which could no longer afford to advertise in both mainstream and the black press. Finally, after the enactment of civil rights and affirmative action laws, black papers were raided by mainstream papers seeking to integrate their newsrooms with good black journalists.
10 Explain the distinction between the business and news operations of a newspaper.
In addition to managing a paper’s finances, business operations generally include departments of advertising, circulation, and promotion. On the news and editorial side, the chain of command at most larger papers starts at the top, with the publisher and owner, and then moves to the editor in chief and managing editor, the persons in charge of the daily news-gathering and writing processes.
11 Define wire service and syndication.
A few major dailies, such as the New York Times, run their own wire services, selling their reprinted stories to other papers. Syndicates such as United Features and Tribune Media Services, are commercial outlets that contract with newspapers to provide work from the nation best political writers, editorial cartoonists, comic-strip artists, and self-help columnists.
12 What are the major reasons for the decline in newspaper circulation figures?
Although the population increased, the percentage of adults who read the paper at least once a day dropped from 78 percent in 1970 to 51 percent by 2007 (58 percent on Sunday). The rise of radio and network television caused a decline in newspapers.
13 What is the impact of a JOA (joint operating agreement) on the business and editorial divisions of competing newspapers?
Under a JOA, two competing papers keep separate news divisions while merging business and production operations for a period of years.
14 Why did newspaper chains become an economic trend in the twentieth century?
Newspaper chains are companies that own several papers throughout the country to save money by cost cutting services.
15 What major challenges does new technology pose to the newspaper industry?
Modern computer technology began radically revolutionizing newsrooms in the 1970s. VDTs (video display terminals), for instance, displaced typewriters, enabling reporters to change or share stories easily; editors could also measure headlines or design pages on their personal computer screens.
16 What is a newspaper’s role in a democracy?
Of all mass media, newspapers have played the longest and strongest role in sustaining democracy. As a venue for the expression of ideas and the distribution on information, newspapers keep readers abreast of issues and events in their community, their nation, and their world.
17 What makes newspaper journalism different from the journalism of other mass media?
As print journalism shifts to digital culture, the greatest challenge is the upheaval of print journalism’s business model. As print journalism loses readers and advertisers to a wide range of digital culture, what will become of newspapers, which do most of the nation’s primary journalistic work?
Magazines in the age of specialization
1 Why did magazines develop later than newspapers in the American colonies?
Magazine primarily duplicated what was already available in local papers.
2 Why did most of the earliest magazines have so much trouble staying financially solvent?
Delivery cost remained high, and some postal carries even refused to carry magazines because they added so much weight to a load.
3 How did magazines become national in scope?
With increases in literacy and public education, and with developments in faster printing technology in the mid-1880s, a market was created for more magazines. Improvements in rail transportation also made it possible to ship magazines and other products easily from city to city.
4 What role did magazines play in social reform at the turn of the twentieth century?
The economics behind the rise of popular magazines was simple: A commercial publisher could dramatically expand circulation by dropping the price of an issue below the actual production cost for a single copy. The publisher recouped the loss through ad revenue, guaranteeing large readership to advertisers who were willing to pay more to reach more readers.
5 When and why did general-interest magazines become so popular?
General-interest magazines offer occasional investigative articles but covered a wide variety of topics aimed at a broad national audience.
6 Why did some of the major general-interest magazines fail in the twentieth century?
The demise of popular periodicals at the peak of their circulations seems inexplicable, but their fall illustrates a key economic shift in media history as well as a crucial moment in the conversion to an electronically oriented culture.
7 What triggered the move toward magazine specialization?
The general trend away from mass market publications and toward specialty magazines coincided with radio’s move to specialized formats in the 1950s.
8 What are the differences between regional and demographic editions?
Regional editions: national magazines whose content is tailored to their interest of different geographic areas. Demographic editions: target particular groups of consumers.
9 What are the most useful ways to categorize the magazine industry? Why?
The magazine industry ultimately prospered by fragmenting into a wide range of choices and categories.
10 What are the four main departments at a typical consumer magazine?
A) Production and Technology
B) Editorial Content
C) Advertising and Sales
D) Circulation and Distribution
11 What are the major magazines chains, and what is their impact on the mass media industry in general?
Time Warner, Rodale Press, Meredith Corporation, the Hearst Corporation, PRIMEDIA. Large companies or chains increasingly dominate the magazine business.
12 How do magazines serve a democratic society?
Contemporary commercial magazines provide essential information about politics, society, and cultures, thus helping us think about ourselves as participants in a democracy.
Popular Radio and the origins of broadcasting
1 Why was the development of the telegraph important in media history? What were some of the disadvantages of telegraph technology?
The telegraph operators transmitted news and messages simply by interrupting the electrical current along a wire cable. The telegraph dispatch complicated language codes, but it was unable to transmit the human voice.
2 How is the concept of the wireless different from that of radio?
Wireless telegraph is a form of voiceless point-to-point communication.
3 What was Guglielmo Marconi’s role in the development of the wireless?
In 1894, Guglielmo Marconi, a twenty-year-old, self-educated Italian engineer, read Hertz’s work and set about trying to make wireless technology practical.
4 What were Lee De Forest’s contributions to radio?
De Forest’s improvements in detection, conduction, and amplification greatly increased listeners’ ability to hear dots and dashes and later, speech and music on a receiver set.
5 Why was the RCA monopoly formed?
Under RCA’s patents pool arrangement, wireless patents from the navy, AT&T, GE, the former American Marconi, and other companies were combined to ensure U.S. control over the manufacture of transmitters and receivers.
6 How did broadcasting, unlike print media, come to be federally regulated?
Corporate heads and government leaders conspired to make sure radio communication would serve American interests.
7 What was AT&T’s role in the early days of radio?
AT&T manufactured most transmitters.
8 How did the radio networks develop? What were the contributions of David Sarnoff and William Paley to network radio?
Network a cost-saving operation that links, through special phone lines (and, later, satellite relays), a group of broadcast stations that share programming produced at a central location. Sarnoff created a new subsidiary in September 1926 called the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Many independent stations also began affiliating with the NBC networks to receive programming. Paley and Bernays modified a concept called option time, in which CBS paid affiliate station $50 per hour for an option on any portion of their time.
9 Why did the government-sanctioned RCA monopoly end?
After the collapse of the stock market in 1929, the public became increasingly distrustful of big business. In 1932, the government revoked RCA’s monopoly status.
10 What is the significance of the Federal Communications Act of 1934?
In 1934, with passage of the Federal Communication Act, the FRC became the FCC. Its jurisdiction covered not only radio but also the telephone and the telegraph (and later television, cable, and the Internet).
11 How did radio adapt to the arrival of television?
A key development in radio’s adaptation occurred with the invention of the transistor by Bell Laboratories in 1947. Transistors, like De Forest’s vacuum tubes, were small electrical devices that could receive and amplify radio signals.
12 What was Edwin Armstrong’s role in the advancement of radio technology? Why did RCA hamper Armstrong’s work?
Edwin Armstrong, who first discovered and developed FM radio in the 1920s and early 1930s, is often considered the most prolific and influential inventor in radio history. RCA wanted to ensure that channels went to television before they went to FM.
13 How did music on radio change in the 1950s?
When television snatched radio’s program ideas and national sponsors, radio’s dependence on recorded music became a necessity and helped the medium survive in the 1950s.
14 What is format radio, and why was it important to the survival of radio?
As early as 1949, station owner Todd Storz in Omaha, Nebraska, experimented with formula-driven radio, or format radio. Under this system, management rather than deejays controlled programming each hour. Format radio generated more revenue.
15 Why are there so many radio formats today?
Stations today use a variety of formats based on managed program logs and day parts. More than forty different radio formats, plus variations, serve diverse groups of listeners.
16 Why did Top 40 radio diminish as a format in the 1980s and 1990s?
By the 1980s, as first-generation rock and rollers aged and became more affluent, album-oriented rock had become less political and played mostly white post-Beatles music featuring such groups as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and Queen.
17 What is the state of nonprofit radio today?
Today, more than 2,800 nonprofit stations operate, most of them on the FM band.
18 What arguments do pirate radio operators use to justify the existence of their stations?
The major complaint of pirate radio station operators was that the FCC had long ago ceased licensing low-power community radio stations.
19 What are the reasons existing full-power radio broadcasters sought to delay and limit the emergence of low-power FM stations?
NPR fought to delay and limit the number of LPFM stations, arguing that such station would cause interference with existing full-power FM stations.
20 What are the current ownership rules governing American radio?
With the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC eliminated most ownership restriction on radio.
21 How do Internet radio, satellite radio, podcasts, and HD radio present an alternative to standard broadcast radio?
Alternative radio technologies helped bring more diverse sounds to listeners.
22 What has been the main effect of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 on radio station ownership?
In 1996 alone some twenty-one hundred stations switched owners, as $15 billion changed hands. From 1996 to 2004 the number of radio station owners declined by 34 percent.
23 Throughout the history of radio, why did the government encourage monopoly or oligopoly ownership of radio broadcasting?
Government leaders conspired to make sure radio communication would serve American interests.
Television and the power of visual culture
1 What were the major technical standards established for television n the 1940s?
In 1949, the FCC adopted a 525-line image, scanned electronically at thirty frames per second (fps), which became and will remain the U.S. analog standard for all TV sets until the new digital standard phases out old sets in 2009.
2 Why did the FCC freeze the allocation of TV licenses between 1948 and 1952?
By 1948, the FCC had issued nearly a hundred television licenses. Due to growing concern about the allocation of a finite number of channels and with growing frequency-interference problems as existing channels “overlapped,” the FCC declared a freeze on new licenses from 1948 to 1952
3 How did the sponsorship of network programs change during the 1950s?
Early television programs were often conceived, produced, and supported by a single sponsor. Throughout the early 1950s, the broadcast networks became increasingly unhappy with the control sponsors exerted over program content, and they took steps to change things.
4 Why did it take forty years for the networks to put a quiz show – Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – back on the air in prime time?
In 1999, ABC gambled that the nation was ready once again for a quiz show in prime time after the quiz-show scandals in the 1950s
5 How did news develop at the networks in the late 1940s and 1950s?
Daily evening newscasts began on NBC in February 1948 with the Camel Newsreel Theater. Originally a ten-minute Fox Movie tone newsreel that was also shown in theaters, this filmed news service was converted to a live broadcast one year later.
6 What are the differences among sketch, situation, and domestic comedies on television?
These comedy variations come from a rich history in popular culture that includes vaudeville stage comedy from the late 1800s. Sketch – short television comedy skits that are usually a segment of TV variety shows; sometimes known as vaudeo, the marriage of vaudeville and video. Situation – features a recurring cast and set as well as several narrative scenes; each episode establishes a situation, complicates it, develops increasing confusion among its characters, and then resolves the complication. Domestic – a TV hybrid of the sitcom in which characters and settings are usually more important than complicated situations; it generally features a domestic problem or work issue that characters have to solve.
7 Why did the anthology drama fade as a network programming stable?
First, although anthologies were popular, advertisers disliked them. Second, they were largely supported by a more affluent audience. Third, commercial networks stopped producing them because they were expensive to produce (double the price of most other TV genres in the 1950s).
8 What are the types of episodic TV series? Why did they survive as a TV staple?
Chapter shows employ self-contained stories that feature a problem, a series of conflicts, and a resolution. Serial programs are open-ended episodic shows, in these series, most story lines continue from episode to episode. Story concepts in episodic series are broad enough to accommodate new adventures each week, creating an atmosphere in which there are ongoing characters with which viewers can regularly identify.
9 What were the technological changes that contributed to the decline of network control over television?
The arrival of communication satellite services for cable television and the home video market.
10 What rules and regulations did the government impose to restrict the networks’ power?
First, the passage of the prime time access rule in April 1970 took the 7:30 to 8pm slot away from the networks and gave it exclusively to local stations in the nation’s fifty largest TV market. Second, in 1970 the FCC created the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules – called fin-syn – which “constituted the most damaging attack against the network TV monopoly in FCC history.” Third, was instituted by the Department of Justice in 1975. It limited the networks own production of non-news shows to a few hours a week.
11 How have new networks managed to grow over the last decade?
Despite their declining reach, the traditional networks have remained attractive investments in the business world. The networks continue to attract larger audiences than their cable or online competitors.
12 Why has it become more difficult for producers to independently create programs for television?
Because of their high cost, many prime-time programs are developed by independent production companies that are owned or backed by a major film studio such as Sony or Disney. These film studios serve as a bank, offering enough capital to carry producers through one or more seasons.
13 What are the differences between off-network and first-run syndication?
Off-network is the process whereby older programs that no longer run during prime time are made available for reruns to local stations, cable operators, online services, and foreign markets. First-run is the process whereby new programs are specifically produced for sale in syndication markets rather than for network television.
14 Why do syndicated American television shows have advantages in the global marketplace?
The major syndicators of TV programming including the film studios, which are also involved in the production of TV shows and it is often cheaper to buy syndicated programs than to produce local programs.
15 What is the difference between a rating and a share in audience measurement?
Rating is statistical estimate expressed as a percentage of households tuned to a program in the local or national market. Share is a statistical estimate of the percentage of homes tuned to a program compared with those actually using their sets at the time of a sample.
16 How has television served as a national cultural center or reference point over the years?
Television carried the antielitist promise that its technology could bypass traditional print literacy and reach all segments of society.
17 What problems does traditional network television face in the mid-2000s?
I-pods, cell phones, and internet services now offering our favorite TV shows via computer screen, we may no longer need a traditional TV set.
The internet and news technologies – media at the crossroads
1 What are the three stages in the development of a mass medium?
Novelty or development stage, entrepreneurial stage, and mass medium stage
2 How did the internet originate? What does its development have in common with earlier mass media?
It was a Military-government project with national security as one of its goals. Many pioneers of the net did not predict how rapidly its mass appeal would spread beyond nation and military had predicted.
3 How does the World Wide Web work? Why is it significant in the development of the internet?
The web was initially a text data-linking system that allowed computer accessed information to associate with or link to, other information no matter where it was on the internet. Most of the internet was for e-mail, file transfers, and remote access of computer database.
4 What are the four main features of the structure of the internet? How do they help users access and navigate the internet?
Internet service providers, web browsers, directories and search engines, e-mail and instant messages services, and web 2.0. Most of the internet is now structured around businesses’ attempts to reach the millions of people around the world who regularly use the internet.
5 How does media convergence distinguish a different phase in mass media history?
What generally distinguishes the internet from older media is not only the revolutionary ways in which data are stored and retrieved but also the convergence of media forms.
6 What three key technological developments have made possible today’s intersection of mass media along the information highway?
Digital communication, microprocessors, and fiber-optic cable
7 What are the key issues involving ownership of the internet? How do these issues differ from earlier ownership issues in other mass media?
The contemporary era is distinguished not only by the revolutionary ways in which data are transmitted but also by the increasing convergence of owners and players in mass media industries. Large media firms, such as Disney, Time Warner, and Microsoft, are buying up or investing in smaller companies and spreading their economic interests among books, magazines, music, movies, radio, television, cable, and internet channels.
8 Who are the major players vying for control of the internet?
Table 2.1 – Yahoo! Sites, Time Warner Network, and Google Sites
9 What are the major alternative voices on the internet?
Open-source software, Wiki Web sites, Blogs, and Social Networking Web site
10 What are the central concerns about the internet regarding freedom of expression, security, and access?
In recent years, three issues about the internet have commanded the most attention: the suitability of online material, the security of personal and private information, and the accessibility of the internet.
11 What is the digital divide, and what does it have to do with the information highway?
Digital divide refers to the growing contrast between “information haves,” or internet users who can afford to acquire multiple media services, and “information have-nots,” or people who may not be able to afford a computer or the monthly bills for internet service connections, much less the many options now available.
12 What are the key problems involving the expansion of the information highway? How can the information highway make democracy work better?
Despite the potential of new media forms, skeptics raise doubts about the participatory nature of discussions on the internet.
The culture of journalism values, ethics, and democracy
1 What are the drawbacks of the informational model of journalism?
First, in a world entangled in media outlets and computer highways, we may be producing too much information. Second, related problems suggest that the amount of information the media now provide has made little impact on improving public and political life.
2 What is news?
News in the twentieth century became the process of gathering information and making narrative reports – edited by individuals in for-profit news organizations – that offer selected frames of reference; within those frames, news helps the public make sense of prominent people, important events, and unusual happenings in everyday life.
3 What are some of the key values that underlie modern journalism?
Ethnocentrism, responsible capitalism, small-town pastoralism, and individualism
4 How do issues such as deception and privacy present ethical problems for journalists?
Today journalists continue to use disguises and assume false identities to gather information on social transgressions. To achieve the truth, journalists routinely straddle a line between “the public’s right to know” and a person’s right to privacy.
5 Why is getting a story first important to reporters?
Reporters often enjoy recounting how they evaded an authority figure to secure a story ahead of the competition.
6 What are the connections between so-called neutral journalism and economics?
Even though journalists transform events into stories, they generally believe that they are – or should be – neutral observers who present facts without passing judgment on them.
7 Why have reporters become so dependent on experts?
Another ritual of modern print journalism – relying on outside sources – has made reporters heavily dependent on experts.
8 Why do many conventional journalists (and citizens) believe firmly in the idea that there are two sides to every story?
Balance is a narrative device that helps generate story conflict. In recounting news stories as two-sided dramas, however, reporting often misrepresents the multifaceted complexity of social issues.
9 How is credibility established in TV news as compared to print journalism?
Tell and show the American audience what was happening in the world using film as a narrative tool.
10 With regard to TV news, what are sound bites and happy talk?
Sound bite is the part of a broadcast news report in which an expert, celebrity, victim, or person on the street responds in an interview to some aspects of an event or issue.
11 What is public journalism? In what ways is it believed to make journalism better?
Public journalism is driven by citizen forums, community conversations, and even talk shows.
12 What are the major criticisms of the public journalism movement, and why do the mainstream national media have concerns about public journalism?
First, some editors and reporters argue that such journalism merely panders to what readers – and therefore corporate publishers – want, and take editorial control away from the newsroom. Second, critics worry that public journalism compromises the professor’s credibility, which many believe derives from detachment. Third, critics contend that public journalism undermines the both-sides of a story convention by constantly seeking common ground and community consensus. Fourth, considered by many traditional reporters as merely a tool of marketers and business managers, public journalism has not addressed the changing economic structures of the news business.
13 What role do satirical news programs like The Daily Show play in the world of journalism?
Stewart’s cast of fake reporters is digitally superimposed in front of exotic foreign locales or short with the goofy graphic “Anytown, USA” appearing over their shoulders.
14 What is deliberative democracy, and what does it have to do with journalism?
Citizen groups, local government, and the news media together take a more active stand in shaping social, economic, and political agendas.
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