Re: memetics and models of media effects

Date: Tue 02 Sep 2003 - 06:43:24 GMT

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    From: "Scott Chase" <> To: Subject: Re: memetics and models of media effects Date sent: Tue, 02 Sep 2003 02:10:40 -0400 Send reply to:

    > >From: Vincent Campbell <>
    > >Reply-To:
    > >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 transmission may occur.
    > >
    > >If so, how do memes travel through media, and what might
    > >differentiate memes 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 I think it wold be useful for memetics scholars to be aware
    > >of them, including:
    > >
    > >News Values- theories of news values explore why some things become
    > >news and 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 organisation.
    > >
    > >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 a war, people generally didn't perceive it as
    > >a war- that's the theory anyway).
    > >
    > >
    > 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.
    In US weekly newsmagazines, Time is perceived as leftist, US News and World Report as rightist, and Newsweek as centrist.
    > 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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    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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