Rethinking Mass Communication Theories in the Internet Era

Rethinking Mass Communication Theories in the Internet Era

Bruce Mutsvairo (University of Hull, UK), Louis Klamroth (Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands) and Simon Columbus (Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0134-5.ch019
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This study examines three classical theories of mass communication to support a hypothesis suggesting that in the age of Internet, these theories are fast becoming extraneous. Theories to be analysed are the cultivation, agenda-setting, and media systems dependence theories. By interviewing over 100 university students based at Amsterdam University College, the authors hope to establish their media behaviours and practices, effectively verifying or disproving the argument that Web technology is masterminding a new revolution, which is uncharacteristically making these theories null and void.
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Qualitative research interviews attempt to ascertain the meaning of people’s experiences on a particular subject (Steinar Kvale, 1996, p. 15). Interviews also enable researchers to acquire information that they otherwise cannot obtain by observation alone. (Arthur Asa Burger, 2000, p. 111). On the contrary, structured interview questionnaires or surveys can also quantitatively help determine or estimate future events. As noted above, this research sought to establish the influence of mass communication theories in a digitalized contemporary Western society. Despite our notable belief that mass media has a near-permanent capability to influence audiences, we were also convinced the advent of the Internet has notably weakened this invincibility. Questionnaire interviews were thus used in a mixed method study to verify our hypothesis thanks to their ability to use large sample sizes for generating generalisable results. Our central aim was to get accurate audience beliefs and attitudes on the use of Internet as a source of news, the results of which were then analysed to establish whether they contradicted or supported the notion that mass communication theories are fast losing their influence in the digital era.

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