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Module 3 Presentation Readings Assignments

Go on to Part 4 - The Roles of Mass Communications
Go back to Part 2 - Communications Settings

5 Common Characteristics of Mass Communication Organizations

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1) Usually produced by formal and complex organizations ("professional communicators")

2) Organizations have multiple gatekeepers

3) Need a great deal of money to operate

4) Exist to make a profit

5) Have a great deal of competition

As "The Bloggers Strike" article in Part 2 shows, the Internet ignores 4 of these 5 characteristics.

It shares with traditional media only the characteristic of intense competition.

A new type of "Mass Communicator" has emerged

It bypasses the established media industries, which explains why traditional media industries are trying to absorb this new communicator.

There are parallels with the beginnings of radio. In both, "hobbyists" provided technical and content innovations. In both cases, traditional media companies stepped in to dominate the new medium to prevent the loss of audience and profit.

A perfect example of traditional media co-opting new forms of mass communication is the Lady GaGa phenomena.

"The 360 model hasn't launched big stars yetwith a few exceptions, including Gaga. From concerts, including four sold-out nights at Radio City Music Hall this month, a percentage of her take goes to her label, Universal's Interscope Records. The label also gets a cut of her revenue from Polaroid, Estie Lauder's MAC and other corporate partners. Does Gaga validate the 360 model for other artists? While she pockets relatively less money on tour, Interscope puts more muscle behind her than it would have in the old days. "Would she be in the position to play in front of 20,000 people a night if the record company had not put up the marketing dollars?" says Gaga's manager Troy Carter."

Click here to read "The Lessons of Lady GaGa"

1) Formal Organizations

Until the Internet, mass media organizations were managed by large, formal bureaucracies

As a result, mass communication was a product of a committee.

Look at the credits of a movie or TV show, the "masthead" of a newspaper or magazine, the credits on a record album. Even a novel is supported by editors, publishers, and publicists.

This commercial explains how many mass media decisions are made.

Formal bureaucracies are threatened by the Internet

Corporations are concerned about the internet across a wide range of media. They are, after all, middlemen whose business is built on an isthmus between the artist and the audience. The internet is a bridge between the two groups which cuts out the middleman.

A musician who has also produced for U2 and Bob Dylan notes: "We can record something at night, put it on the site for breakfast and have the money in the PayPal account by 5. With all due respect for my very great friends who have come up in the record-company environment, it's nice to see that technology has opened the doors to everybody."

Click here to read "1,700 Bands, Rocking as the CD Industry Reels."

5 Common Characteristics of Mass Communication Organizations

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©2011, Terry Dugas

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