Theory of Mass Communication

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Gatekeeping, Media Logic & Media Dependency

After you have completed FOUR readings for the week, answer the two questions about agenda setting and agenda building theory. The answer should be academic in media and communication.
You need to read all the readings and cite them appropriately. Use at least 1 source in each question (at least 2 sources total). No outside source allowed. APA format.

1. What changes to the gatekeeping process, if any, have been brought about by the proliferation of digital and social media? How might future research account for what extant gatekeeping literature fails to consider given these changes?

2. Think about a time when you found yourself dependent upon media. What was unique about that situation or context that drove your dependency? Combine the theories to answer this question.

This week introduction:

The three closely related theories we examine this week—gatekeeping,
media dependency and media logic—share some important commonalities.

First, all three of these theories are multidisciplinary in their
approach, borrowing from mass communication, but also from theories of
sociology and social psychology. As a result of these influences, these
theories describe the way information is shared and processed with an
acknowledgment of the social systems in which dissemination happens, and
with an understanding that the unique experiences of the audience
influence whether messages resonate.

Second, all three of these theories emphasize, albeit to varying
extents, the role messengers and the media play in withholding,
reshaping or filtering messages. They also acknowledge the impact of
these processes on the meaning-making that happens when messages are
communicated.

Gatekeeping theory, for example, maintains that information is
filtered when disseminated, and thus the person or institution
responsible for dissemination plays the role of the “gatekeeper.”
Clearly, we can see the relationship to mediated mass communication.
News media organizations or social media influencers, for instance, play
a gatekeeping role by choosing what information is and is not
disseminated. In that way, gatekeeping is closely related to
agenda-setting and framing theories, though the nuanced differences are
important to note.

Media logic builds on gatekeeping theory (and vice versa) by
emphasizing the ways in which the processes of content production and
dissemination influence meaning-making. To understand this dynamic,
think about the ways in which your local nightly news package stories
into segments, and how those segments are arranged within the full
broadcast. That television production crews package the news in such
formulaic ways informs the meaning that viewers can take from these
broadcasts.

Finally, media dependency theory maintains that media and their
audiences cannot be understood absent the broader social context in
which they exist. In some ways, this theory describes a very broad
notion about our consumption of news—those of us who place high value on
cable news media, for example, are more likely to be influenced by
cable news media. But at a more granular level, it describes the ways in
which societal structures, media and audiences all influence one
another. Think, for example, about our need to turn to the news in times
of crisis, such as during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In
these instances, we depend on the media to say more and more about the
situation, even if we no longer derive any educational value from the
prolonged coverage. As such, we might be more likely to perceive these
situations differently from others who experience less media dependency,
or differently than we might in less serious situations.


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