The basic model of communication also applies to mass communication. A sender uses a channel to reach receivers, which prompts feedback to the sender, The main difference between mass communication and the inter-personal model Is, of course, the matter of multiple receivers. Sometimes they receive simultaneously, immediately, as in network television; other
times they receive individually over longer periods as with a movie, or even over centuries, as with some books, such as the “Holy Qur’ an. ” . To make this distinction in the communication model, the “sender is called the source, and the multiple; receivers are called the audience. The channels, whether they be television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, or movies, are known as media.
Audiences It should be obvious that audiences come in different , from the forty mill.on or so of a network television programme, to the several thousands of an average book, to the few hundreds of a scholarly journal. Regardless of size, it is crucial to remember that each audience is composed of that many individual persons, each one a separate thinking machine reacting to the medium’s message in a different fashion, viewing the message through his or her own separate lens, ground from personal experience and orientation. This individuality of audiences belies the concept of a single mass reacting as so many automatons.
Multiple receivers of a mass medium may also react with>one another. The members of a family make comments to one another about a television show. Scholars discuss articles from academic journals. “Did you see….? Have you read ….? The papers .Have you heard ? They say. The contents of mass media constantly become topics of conversation in daily life, and media influence is extended; indirect or secondary audiences may, many cases, be far larger than the original audiences
Thus, it appears that the effect of mass media reaches far beyond the initial audience. This is a significant point, for it illustrates the catalytic nature of mass communication in triggering individual reactions. However, for now it is enough to adapt the basic communication model to accommodate these additional factors, as can be seen in figure 1.3
The new model indicates some subtle changes. First, feedback in mass communication is rarely instantaneous and direct, as it is in face-to-face conversation. Rather, feedback becomes an aggregate ingredient reflected to the source after a considerable lag in time, often from great distance, and frequently in a different nature. Feedback from the issues and rhetoric of a political campaign will be reflected, often many weeks later, at the ballot box on election day. The appeal of· a television commercial or a magazine advertisement will be known at the sponsor’s cash register. The popularity of a movie. can only be measured in dollars at the box office, and the success of a book generally by over-the-counter sales, both of which may involve a wait of more than a year. Delayed feedback is indigenous to mass communication
As a result of technological advances in computerization over the last couple of decades, this delay has been shortened by cultivating some new forms of feedback. In a political campaign, often costing millions of dollars, it is tactically unwise to await the verdict at .the polls, by which time strategies cannot be corrected. Public opinion polling has proven able to offer an indication of election day results to perceptive candidates as a guide in their campaigns.
Similarly, when advertisers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for prime-time television commercials, they need to know far in advance whether this kind of investment will payoff at the cash register. This need has led to television and radio ratings. There is an empirical correlation between audience size and the subsequent sales of consumer products. Consequently, the audience size of television shows, as reflected in ratings, gives a reasonable clue’ to the relative success of programmes and commercials.’
Public ‘opinion Polling as a feedback device has another use, too. By in-dicating what is acceptable and unacceptable to different audiences, POll sand ratings tend to condition the kind of campaign or the kinds of programmers that will be offered in the future .
Noise in mass communication is a mammoth aggravation. Within the media, channel noise consists of such things as typographical errors, misspellings, scrambled words, or omitted paragraphs in the newspaper. It is the fuzzy picture on the tube, static on the radio, or missing pages in a magazine. It is also a broken television set, a dead battery in the transistor radio, the Newspaper in a mud puddle outside the door, or the magazine subscription that doesn’t arrive. Obviously, the more t.e<:hnologically complex society becomes, the greater the opportunity is for this kind of channel noise; As the numbers, varieties, and complexities of media increase, the greater the likelihood is that we will be exposed to mounting noise.
Since channel noise also includes outside interference, it encompasses such things as kids fighting during a television programmer, or visitors interrupting our reading. Other such interference may be the persistent ringing of the telephone as we watch television, a teenager’s stereo at full volume while parents
are trying to read, competing programmes scheduled in the)same time slot, or a variety of magazines and media from which to choose. These examples show evidence that in many cases the media interfere with one another and constitute a considerable part of their own noise. As more media develop and become available, the problem will get worse.
One of the solutions for channel noise is repetition, and it is in use constantly in mass communications, especially. in advertising. Disc jockeys repeat phone ~numbers; television commercials reappear during a programmers; and department stores advertise daily with multiple pages in morning papers. Repetition employs the law of averages. If the message was intercepted the first time-by the doorbell’ or by conversation chances are it will not be the second or third time. Repetition in broadcast media offers an reach those who tune in late. However, repetition operates on a law of diminishing return.
There comes a point in repetition when the receiver, as an individual, will tune the message out. When multiplied by many individuals, the message is lost. Repetition must be used with
Another cure for channel noise is perfecting the channel performance. This includes avoiding static on the radio, prolonging the life of transistor batteries, proofing the typos and scrambled paragraphs in the’ newspaper, and cleaning up the fuzzy picture on the tube, These are rather obvious solutions, but accomplishing them leads in several directions.
Removing ‘static on the radio, for instance, may require increasing the wattage of the ‘station, which calls for approval by the Federal Communications’ Commission and demands considerable capital investment. The long-life transistor battery stems .directly from improved technology–a constant probing of new frontiers. Such technology already has developed transistors (in lieu of tubes), printed circuits and miniaturization, making the radio a personal, portable mass communications tool A fuzzy’ picture ma.y. demand a new picture tube at the owns expense, but it all may require new cameras at the studio or a new control. console .or better engineers. Perfecting the channel on television can run all the way from improving the transmitter’s output via intricate engineering through the quality engineers, to the talent of directors, and the diction of the announcer.
The typos and misspellings in the newspaper demand better copy editors and proofreaders, of course, but they may also demand better computer o, operators, updated typesetting machines, or better-trained printing personnel. In the distribution system employed by newspapers, a part of channel noise will depend on the working condition of the new carrier’s bicycle.