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Introduction to Mass Communication

Introduction to Mass Communication is a college-level class that prepares students for careers in media and communication. The course is designed to allow students to critically analyze the conscious and subconscious effects that print and electronic media have on their psyche, as well as how the media affects the daily lives of all consumers. Introduction to Mass Communication classes are usually broken down into five key areas: print media, electronic media, advertising, journalism, and the effects on society. Each of these five areas are discussed at length and typically include several “real world" examples by your professor. Not surprisingly, an Introduction to Mass Communication course relies heavily on print from magazines and newspapers. So be prepared to ask your mom for all those old stacks of magazines she has lying around the house, if you plan on taking mass communication classes then you’re going to need them!

Mass Communication vs Media Literacy vs Mass Media. What’s The Difference!?

For the most part, there is no fundamental difference between “Introduction” classes for Mass Communication, Media Literacy, and Mass Media. This article will primarily refer to the course as an Introduction to Mass Communication, though your school may use another name. The important thing to remember is that the main ideas presented in these classes are the same.

About the Class

Mass Communication and Mass Media courses offer learners an extensive learning philosophy that extends beyond simple interpretation of what consumers hear and see. The course studies the reasons why the media has such a tremendous impact on what we think, “why" we think what we think, and how we are affected by media on a daily basis. Mass Communication classes give a historical review of mass media and demonstrate how the media has changed with the creation of new technologies. Different models of mass media are studied to give learners a better understanding of the methodologies that are used in the mass market.

Traditional journalism and careers in advertising, as well as careers in modern media require an understanding of mass communication. Though students may pursue an Introduction to Mass Communication class just to familiarize themselves with how the media works. An Introduction to Mass Communication course typically covers three areas concerning the general media — history, media law, and ethics. Thereby analyzing the impact that copyright, libel, slander, and plagiarism have on the mass media and consumers.

In addition to “Introduction” classes about mass communication and media literacy, most students are offered specialized tracks in international communications, public relations, civic journalism and advertising. Writing is normally included in the course; though broadcast, journalism, and advertising majors sometimes take different writing classes to better suit their major.

Students usually have the opportunity to create a media project of their own, incorporating ideas about mass communication and mass media that they have learned from their classes. For instance, a media literacy class may teach students how to create and publish media on their own through simple blogging and social media websites that allow self-publishing. Creating websites, editing and posting photographs, videos and creating podcasts…all of these mediums allow the student to connect with an audience through forms of media and communication on their own, whether for personal or professional use.

Textbooks About Media and Communication

Introduction To Mass Communication, by Stanley J. Baran, is a staple on most college campuses. Updated editions continue to give the student a deeper understanding of media roles, and how they shape the world. This textbook focuses on culture, processes, technology, and media industries. The updated sixth edition explores current events and the impact of modern technology.

Theories of Mass Communication / Edition Five, written by Melvin L. DeFleur and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach, is another textbook found in many communication classes and college libraries. This textbook delves into specific sociological and psychological issues and theories, linking them to mass communication.

Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media by Shirley Biagi and Annual Editions: Mass Media 10/11 by Joan Gorham are two widely heralded textbooks for Introduction to Mass Media courses.

Internships for “Mass Media", “Media Literacy”, and “Mass Communication" Students

“Media" and “Communication" students are encouraged to pursue internships. Mass communication students eager for more information on obtaining fulfilling and rewarding internships can read this great article from About.com called Finding An Internship.

Have you determined whether mass media truly fascinates you? If you are willing to learn how to question what you are told by the media on a daily basis, and how to critique and produce media on your own, then studying mass communication and media literacy may be up your alley!


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