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Agenda-setting function. Purports that mass media establishes what issues are and are not important to individuals and to the culture.

Alternative media. Offers special-interest programming not found in traditional, mainstream, or conventional media. Includes noncommercial ventures, international media systems, and corporate telecommunications. Internet sites of special interest may also act and be received as alternative media.


3 Bs of television. The idea that television blurs, blends and bends reality.

Backround (programming). Radio or television content not directly encouraging viewer/listener involvement. Opposite of foreground.

Behavioral effect. An influence upon some human action in response to media content.

Behaviorism. The notion that all human action is a conditioned response to external, environmental stimuli.

Blinking-twelve. Term used to describe people unable to work with modern household and office technology-not able to set proper time on a VCR display.

Broadcasting. Producing and designing media content to appeal to a broad audience segment. The technology of broadcasting only applies to content carried through the airwaves.

Bullet theory. A commonsense theory, much debunked, that people are passive recipients of media information. That media can touch people and change them directly.



Cablecasting. The delivery of media content through underground or overhead cables. Refers only to the technology of cable, but content production and design resembles narrowcasting.

Classic four functions of the media. Surveillance, correlation, transmission of the social heritage, and entertainment.

Cone effect. A conceptual model for understanding mediated reality in which Constructed mediated reality (CMR) is produced from the stuff of real life in a heightened or exaggerated fashion.

Consonance. Similarity of the messages (content) disseminated by the mainstream mass media.

Constructed mediated reality (CMR). Creation of mediated reality from the elements of real life.

Couch-potato. Term used to describe a person which is spending free time mainly watching TV-sitting or lying on a couch.

Convergence. The Blurring of the distinction among various forms of communication.

Cross-ownership. Ownership by one person or corporation of various forms of media.

Cultivation analysis. Theory that television "cultivates" or creates a world view that, although possibly inaccurate, becomes the reality because people believe it to be so.

Culture wars. Struggle to define the cultural foundation of the broader social order in which we live.



Direct effects assumption. The media, in and of themselves, can produce direct effects.

Disinformation. False information spread about the opposition to discredit it.

DVD. Short for digital versatile disc or digital video disc, a new type of digital medium that holds a minimum of 4.7 gigabytes, enough for a full-length movie in high-quality including extras (interactive menus, scene selector, theatrical trailer, interviews, games for computer etc.). Many experts believe that DVD disks will eventually replace CD-ROMs, as well as VHS video cassettes.



Escapist gratification. Fullfilment of the need to be distracted from the realities of life through experiences such as the happy ending, romantic love, and the good old days.

Ethnocentrism. The tendency to be nationally or culturally self-centered.



Face-to-face communication. The sender and receiver of information are in contact. The receiver may disagree, ask a question, or repeat information. The sender and receiver can engage in a dialogue about the message. There is an opportunity for feedback.

False analogy. An advertiser is suggesting a misleading similarity.

Feedback. The process of communication whereby a person can disagree, ask a question, repeat information for understanding, or otherwise talk back in the communication process.

Foreground (programming). Radio or television content that requires the attention of the audience in a direct way. Opposite of backround.

Form. How mediated information is communicated and how it reaches us.

Fourth estate. Media as and independent social institution that ensures that other institutions server the public.

Functional displacement. When the functions of an existing medium are replaced by a newer technology, the older medium finds new functions.



Gatekeepers. Those in control of the flow of information. The gatekeeper can choose to accept or reject a piece of information for public consumption. Newspaper publishers, editors and reporters, television producers, radio station owners and broadcasting executives have all been cited as examples of media gatekeepers.

Genre. Specific kinds of media content, e.g., entertainment, information, news, advertising, etc. Each category is defined with traditional conventions, but categories may overlap.

Global village. McLuhan's conception of a new form of social organization emerging as instantaneous, electronic media tie the entire world into one great social, political, and cultural system.

Greatest-happiness principle. Advanced by British philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), urges doing whatever will result in the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.



High culture. Set of cultural artifacts that humanists judged to have the highest value.

Homogenous audience. An audience composed of individuals who are more alike than different.



Identification. An aspect of "modeling theory", in which individuals may observe, identify with, and than imitate one or more media characters.

Immediate payoff (gratification). Personal fullfilment realized through a single event or action in a program.

Indirect effects theory. When media do seem to have an effect, that effect is "filtered" through other parts of the society, for example, through friends or social groups.



Jingle. Music and lyrics written essentially to sell products.



Knowledge gap. Systematic differences in knowledge between better informed and less informed segments of a population.



Lasswell`s model. Verbal model, devised by Harold Lasswell, identifying the key elements in any instance of human communication: who, says what, to whom, in which channel, with what effect?

Least objectionable programming (LOP) theory. Assumes that viewers select whatever is "least objectionable" from whatever happens to be on TV, assumes that viewing patterns are the result of habit, convenience, and socialization.

Limited effects theory. The theory that media have minimal or limited effects because those effects are mittigated by a variety of mediating or intervening variables.

Log. See media log.

Long-term payoff (gratification). Rewarding experiences described by viewers as qualitatively more intense than immediate or short-term payoffs.



Mainstreaming. The process present especially for heavier viewers of television by which television's symbols monopolize and dominate other sources of information and ideas about the world.

Mass communication. See mass media.

Mass entertainment theory. Theory asserting that television and other mass media, because they relax or otherwise entertain average people, perform a vital social funcion.

Mass media. Any form of communication produced by a few for consumption by many people. Mass media are channels of communication through which messages flow. As the messages go through the channels, they are distorted. When people receive media messages they have no opportunity for immediate feedback with the producers of the messages.

Mass society theory. Perspective on Western, industrial society that attributes an influential but often negative role to media.
Idea that media are corrupting influences that undermine the social order through their influence over defenseless "average" people.

Master (or collective) symbols. Symbols that are associated with strong emotions and posses the power to stimulate large-scale, mass action.

Media. Any physical object used to communicate. Common media are televisions, radios, telephones, and newspapers. Less common articles are building materials, paint, sculpture, dance and other conventions for communicating ideas. Singular, medium.

Media agencies. Agencies who produce media. Also media institutions and businesses.

Media content. Messages which are produced by the few for the many and delivered to large audiences simultaneously.

Media ecology. Suggests that mediated communication occurs in complex environments similar to ecosystems. Researchers might examine the media ecology in one household/family system or in a particular subculture such as punk rockers.

Media intrusion thoery. Idea that media have intruded into and taken over politics to the degree that politics have become subverted.

Media languages. Media conventions, formats, symbols and narrative structures which cue the audience to meaning. The symbolic language of electronic media work much the same way as grammar works in print media.

Media literacy. The ability to read, analyze, evaluate and produce communication in a variety of media forms (television, print, radio, computers, etc.).
-more definitions of ML can be found

Media log. A record of media use, often used to assess and control personal media use.

Media messages See media content.

Media targets. Audiences are media targets. Audiences are targeted, sold and delivered to advertisers by media agencies. Groups are targeted on the basis of demographics, media use patterns, zip codes, and polling by those who wish to sell or persuade.

Media system dependency theory. Idea that the more a person depends on having needs gratified by media use, the more important the media's role will be in the person's life and, therefore, the more influence those media will have.

Media use. The way people interact with media. Media use varies from person to person, group to group and at various times during an individual's life.

Mediated expectations. Evaluating real-life experiences against standards established by the mass media.

Medium. Singular for media. A television is a mass medium. Radios, televisions and newspapers are mass media.

Microsoftization. Term used for the more or less succesful attempt of Microsoft Corporation to monopolize the whole "digital world" by immoral and illegal means. More precisely by misuing their power in software for PCs market to eliminate any kind of competition, as a flagrant example is often used the so called "war of the browsers" with Netscape.

Mouse-potato. Term used from mid-90s to describe a person which is spending free time mainly using a computer. Created as a newer version of couch-potato.



Narrative video. A music video that tells a story, logically and sequentially (more-or-less), just as narrative films do.

Narrowcasting. Producing and designing media content in order to target a highly specific segment of the audience. Opposite of broadcasting.



Objective. The ideal that the media producer is representing a balanced viewpoint on issues. The ideal that media producers are fair, accurate and conduits for information. Opposite of subjective.

Oligopoly. The concentration of increasing numbers of media businesses in the hands of a few large companies.



Parasocial interaction. Responses to radio and television characters or celebrities that resemble the interactions found in real life social relationships.

Parasocial relationship. Special relationships that evolve between real-life individuals and individuals or programs existing only in the realm of mediated reality.

Perceived mediated reality (PMR). Mediated reality as it is made sense of by the individual or social group/society.

Prime time. In television program scheduling, the four hours between 19:00 and 23:00 when most viewers are watching television.

Priming. The idea that media draw attention to some aspects of life at the expense of others.

Priming effects. The idea that presentations in the media heighten the likehood that people will develop similar thoughts about those things in the real world.

Production Techniques Radio, computers, telephones.

Production Values. See production techniques.

Propaganda. No-holds-barred use of communication to propagate specific beliefs and expecations.

Propaganda, black. Deliberate and strategic transmission of lies.

Propaganda, gray. Transmission of information or ideas that might or might not be false. No effort is made to determine their validity.

Propaganda, white. Intentional suppression of potentially harmful information and ideas, combined with deliberate promotion of positive information or ideas to distract attention from problematic events.





Rating. The percentage of all persons who live in a market tuned or potentially tuned to a station at a given time.

Reflection (mediated). The notion that radio and television programs mirror the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions of the audience and are based on society.

Refraction (mediated). The notion that radio and television programs shape the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions of the audience and are interactive with society.

Representation. The relationship between actual places, people, events and ideas and media content. Stereotypes are a common form of media representation.



Sensationalism. Highly subjective, journalistic style is characterized by an emphasis on form (style) over content (substance), stories lean heavily towards sex, violence, gore and gossip.

Share. The percantage of the audience tuned to a particular station at a given time.

Short-term payoff (gratification). Found in the mini-climaxes of soap opera subplots, requiring that a viewer watch at least from the beginning of a specific story line to its completion.

Social gratification. Fulfillment of the basic needs and desires of sharing own experiences with others as related to television.

Socialization. The process by which developing individuals internalize the beliefs, attitudes, and customs of a culture and learn the norms of society.

Spiral of silence. The descriptive term for a theory of public opinion, developed by German researcher Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, in which certain individuals who perceive their opinions as inconsistent with the status quo as defined by the mass media are not likely to express "deviant" opinions.
Dr. Noelle-Neumann argues: "If you think your ideas, lifestyle, values, and customs are very unpopular, you shut up. You fall silent, fearing rejection and isolation. ...The media do this by portraying an idea or activity as objectionable, or simply by ignoring it altogether. Because people use the media to get a sense of the climate of opinion, those persons whose views are mispresented or ignored can fall into a downward Spiral of Silence."
Various forms of alternative telecommunications (such as Internet) can break these spirals of silence.

Spiritual/moral gratification. Caters to needs/desires to see evil punished and virtue restored, to believe in good (or god), to experience spiritual cleansing, to safely explore taboo subjects, and to see order imposed upon the world.

Split screen. Two or more contents are displayed simultaneously on the screen of televesion, computer etc. Typically in two windows containing programs (contents) and commercials (or program trailors).



Target audience. The specific psychographic and demographic groups that an advertiser wants to reach with a commercial message.

Targeting. Identifying specific audience segments and reaching them through the most efficient available channel.

Technological determinist. A person who believes that all social, political, economic, and cultural change is inevitably based on the development and diffusion of technology.

Technology. Hardware used to create and communicate with media, e.g., radio, computers, telephones, satellites, printing presses, pencils, etc.

Techno-stress. A range of stress-related symptoms associated with working long hours with modern technology (especially computers).

Third person effect. The idea that "media affect others, but not me".





Vicarious gratification. Satisfies needs/desires to participate in exciting, dangerous and fantastic situations under controlled, guilt-free conditions indirectly through another medium.

Videocasette recorder (VCR). The most popular device for recording and viewing television programs, films or home movies, known and used widely from 80s. Now partly competing with DVD.



Weisenbacher, Peter. Content originator and webmaster of this site, stundent of Information and library science on the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University Bratislava.







Zapping. Changing a TV channel, usually with a remote control, to avoid watching commercials.

Zipping. Using the VCR`s fast-forward function to skip past the commercials.

Whetmore, Edward Jay: American Electric-Introduction to telecommunications and electronic media. Fullerton: McGraw-Hill, 1992. 534 p. ISBN 0-07-069998-4,
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Baran, Stanley J - Davis, Dennis K.: Mass Communication Theory. Foundations, Ferment, and Future. 2 ed. Scarborough: Wadsworth, 2000. 400 p. ISBN 0-534-56088-1

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