What Is Mass Comm?
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What Is Mass Comm?

Mass Comm is more than just media.

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What Is Mass Comm?
Noé Amellal

In the spring semester of my Junior year, at Emory & Henry College, I discovered a new field of study: Mass Communications. I do notice it is rather widely spread in American institutions of higher education, but with different names, such as “(Public) Communication (Studies)”, “Media Studies”, and sometimes “Rhetoric”.

So what is Mass Communications? I do not major or minor in this field, but from having studied other fields I shall give my perspective. There are three types of communication: intrapersonal communication, which is within one person (yes, I talk to myself quite often); interpersonal communication, which is between two individuals; and mass communication, which is the divulgation of one message to large numbers of people. Immediately, one thinks of the media in today's world.

I was taught that books were the first mass media, meaning the first ever way to communicate one message to large audiences. If "books" is here intended largely as written literature, and not strictly as the print books we have since Gutenberg, then I agree. In the history of our Western civilization, Homer was the first to deliver one unique message to all the people of Greece. The aèdes (Greek bards) sang in private houses, in public markets, banquets, and roads. They all sang Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. To the Greeks, the poet was the man who carried out his message persuasively in the best way. Thus, because Homer is the earliest known poet of Greece, Homer is the first known mass communicator in Western history.

Now that mass communication is defined, it is easier to see what studying the art of persuasion involves. Emory & Henry College teaches Mass Comm with awareness of cultural contexts. This means that we study how the media can persuade their audience based on their cultural, social, political assumptions, and on their economic situation. The media is good at targeting audiences, and studying audiences makes us more culturally sensitive. Thus we see the influence of social anthropology and sociology on Mass Comm.

Furthermore, in order to successfully persuade an audience, the mass communicator must know their audience well, collectively and individually: their social ties, their cultural assumptions, their behavior, their psychology. The interdisciplinary character of Mass Comm is now crystal clear.

In addition, the academic scholarship brings paradigms to study the interaction of media and their audiences: these paradigms borrow from the disciplines mentioned above, as well as ethics, political theory, and existentialism. The three latter are branches of philosophy. Thus, Mass Comm is applied philosophy as well.

I notice that some students wish to major in Mass Comm because it is down-to-earth and will give them more chance to find work. It is true that Emory teaches practical skills to its Mass Comm majors, but Mass Comm is so much more than just "the real world" - and it is not even all the real world! - Mass Comm is cultural, political, social, and philosophical consciousness of our own society. Thus I do not regret having been involved in Emory's Mass Comm department this semester and hope to do more next year!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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