Re: memetics and models of media effects

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue 02 Sep 2003 - 06:10:40 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: memetics and models of media effects"

    >From: Vincent Campbell <>
    >To: "''" <>
    >Subject: memetics and models of media effects
    >Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2003 13:53:03 +0100
    >Hi Everyone,
    >Thinking out loud here about a possible paper I may write on the
    >relationship between memetics and some major models of media effects- and
    >just after any initial thoughts, comments, critiques.
    >Long serving list members will know about my general antipathy to the media
    >effects lobby, but certainly if memes exist and are transmitted between
    >people then the media are possible routes through which memetic
    >may occur.
    >If so, how do memes travel through media, and what might differentiate
    >from other pieces of information that are transmitted?
    >Many media studies models of media effects and media production, for that
    >matter, offer possible frameworks for analysis and understanding this, and
    >think it wold be useful for memetics scholars to be aware of them,
    >News Values- theories of news values explore why some things become news
    >others don't, and then why some things become huuge stories and other
    >similar things don't, in terms of the apparent constituent elements of news
    >stories (e.g. the model of Galtung & Ruge).
    >Gatekeeping- related to theories of news values are models outlining the
    >flow of news in the newsroom, and the decision-making process within a news
    >Agenda-setting- this model argues that the media are successful in telling
    >audiences what to think about, by the media's tendency to highlight some
    >issues/events over others (e.g because the media cover issue a extensively
    >and issue b hardly ever, people will be thinking more about a than b).
    >Framing- going further than agenda-setting, but in the same mould, framing
    >models suggest that the way in which the media frame an event or issue
    >influences public perceptions about that event or issue (e.g. because the
    >British media virtually never reported the conflict in Northern Ireland as
    >war, people generally didn't perceive it as a war- that's the theory
    Taking all these topics together one could think cynically how media may serve the interests of the "powers that be" (tm) via its selective filtering of information or focus on sensational stories (the "trial of the century" of the week) not relevant to gov't policies so as not to attract attention to the substance (or lack of) and the conseqences of these policies.

    But with a competitive information market and with media in the hands of people having diverse political leanings (eg CNN being seen as liberal and FoxNews seen as conservative), uniformity of coverage may not be as much a problem. CNN may do the "trial of the century" of the week bit too, but be more critical of economic policies implemented by a conservative gov't. I haven't seen enough CNN to know if they're more critical than FoxNews, but if they truly are leftist in comparison to FOX, then it would stand to reason, that their coverage of Bush's economic policies would be more critical on average. OTOH they (CNN) might not be leftist enough or critical enough for those who consider themselves really left-leaning and cynical.

    With a greater diversity in the information market, I would hope that there's a larger spectrum of news coverage being offered. One can choose from news of other countries (eg- BBCAmerica) if they can afford cable or satellite packages including such channels.

    This would lead into something Robert Wright discussed in his book _Nonzero_ about narrowcasting (versus broadcasting). Television as a medium has gone from a more general and limited source to a very diversified source, paralleling a similar course run by print media such as magazines.

    Just as there's a _National Review_, a _New Republic_ and a _Nation_ magazine out there, there's a FOXNews, an MSNBC, and a CNN cable news channel. Granted the magazines I mention are actually politically oriented in content to a great degree, the news channels themselves seem to represent a spectrum of political bias with FoxNews slanting right, CNN slanting left and perhaps MSNBC in the middle somewhere.

    Wright's take on narrowcasting was more general and one could look at this putative phenomenon in light of there being magazines dedicated to sports exclusively as are the television cable channels like ESPN.

    Could it be said that media proceed from general ("broadcasting") to specific ("narrowcasting") over time?

    But with television it may still be the wealthier folks that can afford the cable or satellite package that offer a wider spectrum of coverage and entertainment, where those who must rely on antenna or basic cable might have limited access, if they have televisions. Wright addresses the economic aspects of narrowcasting where things become cheaper, but this seems to be relative. I grew up having only a B&W TV and antenna for some periods of my youth. Cable is now affordable, but spending the money for the 100+ channel package and premium movie channels isn't all that prudent. Access to the wide spectrum of channels involves economics and cost-benefit. Same goes for subscriptions to a wide variety of magazines or newspapers. Plus there's the time constraint on any mortal being with average processing capacities being able to assimilate all this information, when they should be at the gym on the stairmaster or treadmill. But, if one can afford the dues, some gyms have TV's in view of the exercise machines, so at least the time constraints aren't as limiting. You could feasibly watch your daily allotment of the
    "trial of the century" of the week while burning your allotment of calories on the exercise bike.

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