Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication
Pub Date: 2016
ISBN 13: 978-1-9461352-6-1
Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing
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This text is rather comprehensive, at least for the time it was published. It covers pretty much any topic one might want to cover in a Media and read more
This text is rather comprehensive, at least for the time it was published. It covers pretty much any topic one might want to cover in a Media and Society or introductory media and communications class, though for those interested in topic areas like journalism, advertising, and public relations, this textbook is much more about the history of those areas than how they are surviving and functioning today (and that's fine with me; I can update with information that's more recent). There is no index (at least in this form), and there is no glossary, but terms are well-defined within each chapter and within pull-out boxes as well. It would be incumbent upon the professor and students to keep some kind of glossary or wiki, which is not a bad idea for a media history/media and society class in any case.
Often in a textbook for media and society or media history, one can see the author's world view shining through - is capitalism too much for media? Should media creators take an "unbiased" view of the world? How is a medium influenced by the way it is funded? The book has a solid conversational tone and is authoritative on its history, but I might prefer a little more analysis of media ownership and consolidation. As for accuracy, yes, the facts seem quite accurate to the best of my knowledge, and the text is written (and edited) by someone with a journalist's view of language - it's useful, it's best done well, and occasionally it lends itself to some essayistic moments.
I'm not sure there's a way to write a book like this that can keep it relevant past the month in which it was written, much less seven years later. Many of the examples the author uses to illustrate music, social media, books, newspapers (some of which don't exist anymore), magazines (ditto), etc., are simply no longer relevant. It *is* interesting to read about what the author thought was relevant at the time, and what the author thought would last, but this kind of book needs almost constant updating during this time of constant media churn and reinvention. I am giving it a 3, but really it's more like a 2.5 as any instructor would need constantly to find new examples that students will understand.
The book is accessible and lucid, absolutely. As with any history of a large discipline, the book contains a fair amount of jargon that is relevant to each portion of the subject matter covered, and the book is good about not only giving context and giving definitions but also setting aside boxed or special areas for examples that reinforce what it's talking about. The key takeaways at the end of each chapter, added to the exercises that are meant to help the students understand what's important in the dense historical detail and context of each chapter, are helpful as well.
This book is wonderfully consistent with terminology and the framework it employs to discuss media across a wide range of areas. From the beginning of each chapter, where an introduction lays out the plan of the chapter, to the end of each chapter - where a box of "key takeaways" explains what students should have learned - the book keeps a tone of very slightly amused detachment, mixed with earnest passion for certain topics, throughout, which is utterly consistent with how media people actually live their lives.
The text is definitely modular. It's written in a way that could easily be read in various chunks as the instructor or professor wishes to assign it. Blocks of text are broken up with images, a few charts, and a few stories that are boxed and that illustrate examples of topics within the chapters.
I think it's hard to know how to organize a media history/media and society textbook. Do you start with the printed word? But then, what about radio? Should radio come closer to magazines or closer to movies and TV? In that case, where do audiobooks and podcasts go? So, even as any instructor would grapple with these sorts of questions, the book is laid out in a way that made sense to the author - and that can be ripped apart and reassigned by each instructor. There's no need to read economics at the end of the course; perhaps, despite the fact that it's at the end of the book, it should come at the front end of the course - and because it's modular enough for flexibility, that's not a problem.
I read the textbook on my desktop Kindle and on my phone. It's not super with the images or charts, and the boxed questions and exercises at the end are especially hard to take. This interface could use a little attention, at least in the Kindle applications area. It's not impossible; it just needs some work.
No errors that I saw, though a textbook without at least a few grammatical errors is a miracle.
It's hard to say whether it's culturally insensitive or offensive because, well, I'm a white woman. I note that it talks about U.S. media's places (different for advertising, PR, newspapers, etc.) in the Civil Rights Movement and to a certain extent it discusses the ways that major media have been controlled or run by men, by white men, by straight white men. But I don't think the text addresses any of these things in the depth or with the clarity of thought that one would like to see in 2017. (Yes, it's a 2010 text.) In gaming, in Twitter discussions, in talking about newspapers or online media, the book is simply behind the times, and that makes it culturally problematic if not insensitive.
I am reluctant to adopt this book with students who really need more recent examples to make sense of how things are going now, today, in 2017, though it's also relevant for them to learn the history of how we got here (if anyone can really understand that at this point). I'd love to use a newer edition if one comes out. I might use or adapt parts of it along with other readings for my media and society class in 2018, but I'll be cautious about that.
The textbook hits the standard areas for a typical Introduction to Mass Communication course: evolution of media industries, media and society, media read more
The textbook hits the standard areas for a typical Introduction to Mass Communication course: evolution of media industries, media and society, media effects and theories, media law and ethics, the digital age, and global media. It is comprehensive in its case studies and historical events that are typically taught for an Introduction to Mass Communication course. The text is current as there is a chapter on the Internet and Social Media and several chapters look at the digital revolution as it impacts media industries. There is no glossary or index, however. Instructors will have to rely on chapter sections for lesson planning.
From Gutenberg to Apple and Google, the book provides content that is accurate on the development of media. The author thoroughly cites case studies and provides questions for critical thinking about issues affecting media industry trends and on the impact of the media on the public. Statistics, data and trends are appropriately cited for reference check on accuracy of estimates.
Case studies and citations stop at 2010. However, the author makes projections for media trends up to 2020. Since media industries are most vulnerable to yearly change, the information in the book holds for now, although the positions of some of the digital media players have changed since the book has come out. However, the author is careful to clarify dates for events that were transformative for media industry changes, at the point in which these events occurred, even if changes have occurred since the book was published in 2010. Within another 5 years, the book is likely to need some updates to digital age developments.
The language used is accessible for a first year student taking an Introduction to Mass Communication course. The theory, ethics and law chapters are broken down for a 1000-2000 level course. The case studies and critical thinking boxes are useful in helping to break down and apply a wealth of information in the text for students to conceptualize the importance of historical events and their social or cultural impacts.
The author is clear on defining media industries, digital convergence and common theories in mass communication.
Instructors can easily use the text as is, or piece together sections on history, digitization and media and society from several chapters, depending on the instructor’s preference.
The text follows the standard logic for media introduction courses moving students through print, to audio, to film to broadcasting and to the digital age. The author wisely weaves in the impact of new media in each of these phases of evolution so the student does not have to wait until the end of the text to see the impacts of the changes of the industry, as they understand media to be today.
While the interface is simple, all graphics and text boxes, as well as assignments are designed similarly throughout the text and easy to locate as an e-text for student work.
Sentences throughout the text are concisely written and the text appears thoroughly proofed.
It was important for me to see examples of race, gender and global dimensions of the media represented as case studies, assignments and critical thinking in the book. From using The Birth of a Nation and its outcry from the NAACP in the film chapter to the rice of BET, or the understanding stereotyping of African Americans in TV, this book has relevant examples that relate to minority students or for a Historically Black University. I did however see no mention of the black press, or the work of alternative media in introduction narratives left out of the mainstream media. However, most introductory media textbooks, also leave this out. If this is an interest area for diverse students, unfortunately instructors are left to source that information themselves. But the most prominent case studies for diverse groups can be found in this text.
It was surprising to discover such an open-textbook as the cost of Intro to Mass Communication textbooks are typically over $100 and students only use this textbook once. This is a valuable resource. I hope the author would consider updating in a few years for recent developments and important case studies such as the #BlackLivesMatter movement and President Donald Trump's election for an examination of media literacy.
The book covers all of the subject areas typically touched on in a media and society survey course; however, the discussions within chapters would read more
The book covers all of the subject areas typically touched on in a media and society survey course; however, the discussions within chapters would benefit greatly from more examples and, in some cases, greater detail in explanation. I often thought the content was pretty thin. This was particularly so in Chapter 2, where the treatment of effects theories and media studies controversies required much more supporting discussion to be relevant to undergraduates. The greatest weakness in the text, and the specific reason I would not adopt it for my own course, is that the book's engagement of social and digital media is, for the most part, woefully out of date and separated into discrete chapter segments, rather than synthesized into discussions directly. A text on media and society assigned in 2017 cannot be comprehensive if it does not engage media in a way that makes sense to the students who are reading it. There is no index or glossary.
There is no bias in the text and historical detail appeared to be represented accurately. Again, I question whether a book written in 2010, which lacks full context for the subject matter, can accurately reflect media and society for students in 2017. For example, in 4.6, online journalism is represented as blogs and online newspapers. That is an accuracy issue for today's students.
The book is out of date. Examples and context stop at 2010, and many cultural references will not resonate with current students, which is the point of examples and cultural context. The Beatlemania example early in the book and the references to 2009 in the opening paragraphs advertise the lack of currency. Significantly, the book cannot be easily updated in its current form because its approach and perspective are also out of date. By failing to integrate social media and the Internet into the central narrative, the book emphasizes legacy media in a way that is no longer relevant.
The book is clearly written, though additional examples and context would be helpful in places.
The narrative is consistent in terminology and framework.
The modularity of the text would allow use of sections of the text at different points in a course.
The content in Chapter 11 on evolution of the Internet and the impact of social media belongs near the beginning, not the end, of the text. In addition, the impact of media economics on content is downplayed by sequestering this discussion in Chapter 13. Each chapter on legacy media ends with a section on the impact of new technology on that medium. These sections feel tacked on.
There were no interface issues. That said, the book lacked the visual engagement used by many media and society texts to capture and maintain the interest of today's students.
The text is clean. Of note, the text correctly uses "media" as a plural noun. There was, however, this awkward subheading at 1.2: "What Does Media Do?"
The text is not culturally insensitive. It acknowledges cultural imperialism and the digital divides as issues. There are examples of media content that would be deemed inclusive. That is not to say, however, that today's students would find the examples culturally relevant. The book is written from their grandparents' perspective.
Without irony, the unknown author of the text includes in a media literacy checklist and discussion (1.8) the advice that students should scrutinize the identity and credentials of authors. This same section warns against anonymous online sources. This is a conceptual problem with this particular online text. It's not clear why the author wants to distance her/himself from the project, but it creates a question of credibility.
The book is extremely comprehensive. Not only does it include all forms of mass media, but it intelligently and thoughtfully addresses critical read more
The book is extremely comprehensive. Not only does it include all forms of mass media, but it intelligently and thoughtfully addresses critical concepts such as ethics and culture. Photojournalism (especially the work of muckrakers such as Jacob Riis) is not included, and investigative reporting is too briefly addressed, although including advocacy journalism was a sound choice. There is no index or glossary. The lack of a glossary is surprising since key words are already highlighted in text.
The text is accurate and information is fairly represented and free of personal bias. No errors were found.
This is the most concerning characteristic of the book: The information has long-term relevance and is written in a highly readable way that will enhance its longevity. However, the examples tend to be temporally but often not generationally up-to-date and positioned for longevity. For example, beginning the book with an example that is this far removed from today's undergraduates' world may lessen their interest in reading further, as opposed to beginning with more focus on Beatlemania and then moving to an example of an artist/group more accessible to their generation. Additional examples used later in the book are drawn from recent time frames, but may not be commonly accessed. This is the only aspect of the book that would make me hesitate to adopt it.
The text is written in lucid prose that is accessible to introductory readers, though individuals whose first language is not English could have some difficulty reading independently. However, with minimal pre-reading guidance (e.g., introducing concepts that will be included in an upcoming reading assignment, instruction on how to use the Learning Objectives and Key Takeaways to best effect), these readers should also be able to understand and effectively use the text. Context is given for jargon/technical terminology, and definitions are generally clear.
The text is consistent in format, terminology, framework, and tone.
The book is clearly divided into relatively short subsections that are logically sequenced. Longer sections tend to be broken up by images, all of which are relevant examples of concepts being discussed in the section. The Learning Objectives, Key Takeaways, End-of-Chapter Assessments, and Critical Thinking Questions sections for each module are useful for guiding student reading and could be easily adapted into learning exercises and assessments such as discussions, quizzes, exams, and writing assignments. The Career Connection section at the end of chapters is innovative, and could be especially useful for students considering majors in communications-related fields. Chapters and sub-sections could be used independently in reading packets or rearranged without their being weakened, making it a more flexible resource or textbook.
The organization is clear. Sections are clearly labeled and of approximately the same length. Titles of chapters and subsections are logical and clear. Topics are logical laid out: An overview of foundational concepts in the first two chapters frames the remaining chapters effectively. The remaining chapters are organized in a historically-logical order. This structure is well-designed to helps readers better understand how an increase in the number and forms of media channels impacts audiences and media effects. Chapters are also internally well-organized and could be used separately as desired.
There are no interface difficulties. Pictures are clear and free of distortion. Navigation is clear and easy to use. Because the sections are short, reader interest should be maintained despite the low level of images included. Multiple platforms can be used.
The text contains no grammatical errors. A nice touch by the author is to clarify and model the correct grammatical usage of "medium" vs "media."
No cultural insensitivity or offensiveness was found. The author acknowledges that the book is focused on US media and includes culturally diverse examples. Topics such as cultural imperialism are addressed specifically. Related topics such as cultural appropriation and marginalization are referenced, although these specific terms are not necessarily used (e.g., the latter is addressed in the chapter on music as an outcome of the oligopoly in music without using the term "marginalization"). This could have been taken further; for example, the section on "Issues and Trends in Film" does not address concerns about "whitewashing" or lack of diversity in Hollywood movies and the section on Independent films does not address movies that countered these trends (e.g., the work of Spike Lee and Robert Rodriguez). However, the book lays the groundwork necessary for a discussion of such concepts in class or for use of supplemental materials that build on this text.
The book could be used as a stand-alone for an introductory class. Sections could be used in more advanced classes as supplemental readings or in reading packets.
This text is comprehensive in its coverage of all major media platforms and key general concepts related to mass media. There are times (e.g. read more
This text is comprehensive in its coverage of all major media platforms and key general concepts related to mass media. There are times (e.g. Chapter 2: Media Effects) when some concepts are defined vaguely, but this is not indicative of the book as a whole. There is no glossary nor index, but most terms are defined well in the context of each chapter. The review sections at the end of each chapter would also help students organize and recall relevant information as they study. There is little that I feel is missing from this textbook that would be appropriate for an introductory mass media course.
A neutral, objective tone is struck throughout, with no apparent errors or gaps in coverage of major media and concepts. To the best of my knowledge, I believe this text to be free of errors, although it needs to be updated.
While this text is outstanding in its coverage and clarity, it is now seven years out-of-date and needs to be updated. A text on mass media should reflect the most recent changes in technology and economic and political contexts.
This text appears to be written for college freshmen and sophomores. Perhaps even upper-level high school students could successfully grasp its content. Most jargon particular to the discipline is defined and illustrated thoroughly.
The text is rigorous throughout, with even weight given to all concepts. There are occasional overlaps between chapters in coverage of terms (e.g. media bias), but nothing that seems sloppy or out-of-place. The historical overview of media technologies blends seamlessly with the beginning and later chapters on media studies concepts.
The structure of the book lends itself exceptionally well to divisibility, while demonstrating the ability to maintain its own internal coherence. The text seems designed for a semester-long course, so those looking to use it for quarters or with students whose expected reading loads might be lighter will find it easy to pull only what they need from it without sacrificing clarity.
The book's content is designed expertly, with introductory chapters leading into a chronological overview of the history of media technologies (books to social media). The text concludes by expanding its scope to cover more general concepts (e.g.media ethics) that scaffold on previously discussed ideas. This framework would greatly aid students in comprehending central ideas in media studies as they relate to specific technologies and historical periods.
I did not notice any problems in this area, although a cover might be helpful in identifying the text.
I noticed some minor typos, but nothing that reflects poorly on the high level of discourse and mechanical aspects of the text.
The text employs examples that would be helpful to students as they seek to understand mass media in diverse settings. There was no inappropriate content noted. The text is respectful and inclusive in this sense.
The end of chapter summaries, takeaways, exercises and critical thinking questions are outstanding and would serve any instructor well in designing a course with relevant activities tied directly to the text, while also pointing to other sources in contemporary mass media. The book is an invaluable resource that deserves the attention of a group of scholars who can update its content in order that it be more relevant to students.
Interestingly, this textbook was more comprehensive than I originally expected. The text covered all of the major areas to be expected in a mass read more
Interestingly, this textbook was more comprehensive than I originally expected. The text covered all of the major areas to be expected in a mass communication textbook: Media, Books, Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, Movies, TV, Games, Internet & Social Media, Advertising & PR, Economics, Ethics, Media & Government and the Future of Mass Media. However, I am giving 4 stars because there is no index or glossary which I deem especially important for a mass communication textbook.
The textbook is accurate. I also like the chapter on the future of mass media. The textbook seems to be error-free and unbiased. Each chapter section includes a few learning objectives and a few "key takeaways." There are also exercise questions at the end of each chapter section. The examples in the exercise questions are dated. It would be nice to have more current examples. However, I would prefer questions about the chapter at the end of the entire chapter or at the end of each section in addition to the objectives, takeaways and exercises. Thus, I am giving 4 stars for outdated examples.
I agree with another reviewer that the examples are a bit dated (which quickly happens in a mass communication textbook). This affects the credibility of the overall text. For example, in Chapter 16.1 Changes in Media Over the Last Century the example box titled "Pay-for-it Content: Will it Work?" is from 2009! This is 2017.
The textbook is written in clear and easily understood language. It is accessible and comprehensible. It would be nice to have a glossary for students for the mass communication jargon.
The text seems to be consistent with terminology and framework. However, the textbook seems dated overall and new terminology and frameworks could be added to make it more relevant and interesting for students.
The modularity of the textbook is good. It is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned different points within the course. I like the division of the chapters into subsections.
The organization/structure/flow of the textbook is good. However, I agree with another reviewer that the textbook is too lengthy. In my opinion, 647 pages is too long. Although I have used other textbooks of similar length, there are many more vivid visuals for students and more timely information and examples.
The text is free of significant interface issues that may confuse or distract the reader.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The textbook examples for cultural relevance could be more current.
Thank you for this opportunity. I like the idea of an open textbook and would be interested in doing more reviews in the future.
The book is comprehensive, covering the study of media and its intersection with culture, through an in-depth look at each of the major mediums, then read more
The book is comprehensive, covering the study of media and its intersection with culture, through an in-depth look at each of the major mediums, then content considerations, economics and ethics issues related to the mass media.
This text seems accurate. I didn't find glaring errors of fact in my reading. Though, as I will mention later in my review, many of the examples used in the text are now several years outdated, when more recent examples or case studies would be more relatable to a youthful college audience.
This is one area where I find some difficulty with the book -- as is the case with every text of this type. The world of media is ever-changing and fast-changing. The historical information about the invention, early adoption, and improvements to the mediums of mass communication (books, newspapers, radio, television, etc.) are fine. A few of the examples and case studies used to describe events related to the media feel outdated. This is most apparent in Chapters 1 and 2 on Media and Culture and Media Effects. Examples from 2010 and 2011, are not relative to college freshmen in 2016 who were in middle-school and probably not paying attention when these things happened. Therefore, the longevity of this text is limited, unless it is updated-revised at least every third year.
The author's writing style is informative and engaging. While the writing is clear and understandable, the chapters often get too deep and try to cover anything and everything in a particular content area-- or sub-chapter, when a couple statements and one case study would suffice.
I found the chapter formatting, writing style and narrative flow to be consistent from chapter to chapter.
Here, the text shines. First, it is broken into chapters that are easily identifiable and segment the content nicely. Within each chapter are several sub-chapters that allow readers to read and absorb material in smaller chunks. This will be helpful to the learning styles of younger people today.
For the most part, I agree with the author's organization and flow. My only thought, and it's just an opinion, is: Chapter 2 on Media Effects should be moved to Chapter 14, so it comes after the major media categories and then the economics of the media, and just before the ethics and law of media. To be fair, most mass media textbooks follow this same organization. When I teach the class, I always move the "effects" chapter to later in the semester, after I've discussed the media types, their history and development. A second thought, I'd hold the footnoted source credits to the end of each chapter, or preferably to the end of the book. The sometimes very long list of footnoted sources between each sub-chapter stops the flow for readers that may wish to read a full chapter.
I downloaded the PDF version, and read that. I found the interface cumbersome. I wish paragraphs were indented. I wish it was easier to navigate from chapter to chapter or topic to topic without scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I wish there was an easy way to get to a Table of Contents with one click, and then from there click topic-anchored reference points to skip to specific information sought. I wish it had an index that had anchor links. I realize this would be a large undertaking to create and connect the links. But that would make searching and finding specific information easy and fast. If I was a college student studying for a chapter quiz or exam on the foundations of radio, I might like to scoot to the Index and click on Radio-Invention, or on Marconi and be led instantly to that content within the text. And, probably an easy fix, I wish it was more evenly spaced. In my opinion, there should consistently be two spaces between sub-headed sections or sub-chapters. In most places in this text, a new, bolded subhead appears on the very next line under its preceding paragraph. This looks jammed and messy.
I have no problem with the grammar. It's clear, easy to follow, and written to be accessible to a college audience. I used the Gunning Fog Index to test several paragraphs throughout the text and found some of the writing aimed at an audience with 10-11 years of formal education, and in a few cases more than 15 years of education. The average of my selected readings came out at 12-13 years of education -- perfectly appropriate for a freshmen-level college course.
Other than my hope for some more recent case studies and examples, I find the text to be culturally relevant. A few of the examples mention MySpace, Napster and Kazaa as internet entities with which the audience should be familiar. In reality, today's college freshmen know almost nothing of these three internet terms. In my current Media and Society class, less than ten percent of the class had ever had a MySpace account. They had heard of MySpace, but really knew nothing. No one in the class knew about Napster or Kazaa first-hand... perhaps had heard of them in another class.
This text feels too long. This is a difficult thing. The author includes everything he feels needs to be discussed in each chapter. But it's too much for a college freshman-level class. Example: The chapter on Music is more than 50 pages long. While I agree college students should be able to read this much each week for a class, I'm confident they will not read this much. I believe the text could be condensed quite a bit while maintaining the content necessary to make it meaningful at the freshman level. It's a complete text, and would make a nice reference tool -- with better indexing and searching links within the body -- but it won't work at an entry level to the study of media. At my university, the "Media and Society" class is a 100-level course, used as a general education class that can fulfill a categorical credit-need for all students, not just Mass Communication majors. And we consider the class a "feeder" to the major, introducing students to the study of media and hopefully igniting an interest in students to consider a career in media, and therefore declare a Mass Communication major. This book, with its depth, might be more appropriate in an upper-vision media studies course.
The text is a broad and comprehensive overview of all relevant forms of media today. Although this is a common organizational approach for survey read more
The text is a broad and comprehensive overview of all relevant forms of media today. Although this is a common organizational approach for survey textbooks of media, this particular volume utilizes it in a particularly clear and cogent manner. Instructors approaching media and culture from a mass comm/journalism standpoint are much likelier to find this text useful than are instructors who approach media and culture from a perspective emphasizing critical/cultural studies, historical poetics, and/or aesthetics.
Content is accurate and strikes appropriately diplomatic tones where contentious issues might arise that concern social and cultural power.
The text is quite relevant for the most part, but by the very nature of its subject matter will undoubtedly require updates every few years. Framing the intro of the "Future of Mass Media" chapter with a specific device--the iPad--rather than the set of cultural protocols such devices foster, for example, might prove to be one area where instructors redirect conversations after the next new device inevitably cycles through.
The text is lucid and easy to follow. The book is ideal for introductory-level courses, but is likely too survey-oriented for courses beyond that level.
The text is consistent in structure, tone, and subject matter.
Here the book really excels at guiding students through a programmatic approach to studying media. Each section of history/description is followed by useful discussion prompts and activities, easily lending itself to course adoption.
The book flows logically. Some medium-specific chapters might arguably be collapsed into others, but their separation provides instructors with a good range of options for organizing lesson plans as they wish rather than having to proceed sequentially.
The text is a cleanly organized PDF, but is quite cumbersome to navigate internally. At 700+ pages, there's no table of contents and little in the PDF that allows for quick and easy browsing without intense scrolling. I'd recommend a hyperlinked TOC and some mechanism that affords instructors/students the freedom to teach/read in a modular, not linear, fashion.
The book is very clean and free of any obvious errors.
The book appropriately qualifies and focuses on the US media context, drawing on a good diversity of examples throughout.
This book devotes almost 800 pages to achieving an impressive level of comprehensiveness, considering the vast subject material upon which it read more
This book devotes almost 800 pages to achieving an impressive level of comprehensiveness, considering the vast subject material upon which it focuses. Moving from Gutenberg’s 15th-century invention of the movable type printing press, through the beginning of the contemporary media age launched by the introduction of the telegraph in the mid 19th century, on into the explosive era opened with the beginnings of wireless communication, and ultimately into the revolution of Internet communication that by 2008 meant that U.S. households were consuming 3.6 zettabytes of information annually, the equivalent of a seven-foot-foot tall stack of books that covered the entire nation and represented a 350 percent increase from just three decades previously. This book manages to cover that remarkable series of media developments, and actually a good bit more, while keeping it all in broader context and without getting bogged down in the tedium of too much minutia from any one topic area.
This reviewer came across no errors of fact nor any pattern of bias in presentation.
The author of any text on this subject is faced with the challenge of achieving up-to-date content on a subject that explodes with new developments faster than any static text could ever stay fully up to date on for long. This text addresses that challenge by focusing on presenting a fully, dynamic framework that is so fully developed that it provides readers with a quite useful and enduring framework for considering crucial issues of media and culture in a manner that should give it a considerable shelf life. That framework is designed to help readers understand not only today’s media landscape but to consider what may be ahead for that landscape in terms of the future of media and culture.
The text breaks down relevant concepts and terminology with lucid, accessible prose so that even readers at the most introductory level should be able to always understand the discussion. Throughout the text, it very clearly helps readers think about each concept and related elements very clearly and in context that illuminates their significance.
This book’s use of terminology and framework is remarkably consistent. The author clearly has an instinctive, unified understanding of the essential dynamics driving the media world as it has evolved, exists today, and is unfolding going forward, and consistently discusses all topics in a context that never loses connection with that broad, fluid picture.
Chapters are organized into small modules, short subsections that by and large can stand alone and could be reorganized as an instructor might find more useful for the purposes of particular courses. Each chapter and each subsection includes highly useful learning objectives, key takeaways, and exercises, links to source materials and end-of-chapter assessments.
The book begins with a thorough overview that takes the reader quickly through a multifaceted assessment of the relationship between media and culture. With that foundation established, it moves into discussion of what is understood about the complex subject of media effects. Then it moves into narrower topics within the broader view considered so far, moving on to discussions of books, newspapers, magazines, music, radio, movies, and television, and then on to more recent developments such as electronic games, the Internet and social media. Then it steps back again to consider broader media influences such as advertising/PR, the role of economics in shaping the nature of mass media, ethical considerations, and government influence, before concluding with a substantial discussion of the future of mass media. The final chapter very effectively brings together the many strands of discussion from preceding chapters and synergizes them with a forward looking discussion of what the media future may hold. A table of contents within the book pdf itself would be helpful, as would content outlines at the beginning of each chapter. However, each chapter does contain very good breakdown highlights of each subsection’s learning objectives, key takeaways, and exercises, as well as extensive links to source materials and end-of-chapter assessments.
There do not seem to be any interface problems. The book is easy to navigate and the images/charts are displayed clearly, without distortion. Display features are presented quite distinctly and effectively throughout and should present readers with not distractions or confusion. The layout is somewhat visually plain, compared to many websites and even many traditional textbooks with more graphically elaborate designs, but the simple layout is easy to negotiate. The number of images/charts is not abundant, but is sufficient.
Grammar is used correctly throughout -- including use of the term “media” as a plural noun, which even too many academics have begun to use incorrectly as a singular term. It even includes an explanation of why it is incorrect to make that term singular, despite its popular usage in such manner. The text is very well written throughout, lively and to the point, with an easy flow that should enable readers to move through it almost effortlessly.
Over the course of this 761-page book, the reader is taken through an extensive range of discussion examples that span a multitude of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. This reviewer did not detect any instances of cultural insensitivity or offensiveness.
This book is written well enough to be of general interest as a stand-alone read, apart from the context of its use as a textbook.
The text covers all of the major forms of media and significant related topics (advertising, media economics, ethics, etc.). While the text lacks a read more
The text covers all of the major forms of media and significant related topics (advertising, media economics, ethics, etc.). While the text lacks a dedicated chapter for journalism, this topic is covered at length in some of the other chapters. No glossary or index is provided.
Content is accurate and free of glaring errors. Although written in a personal, conversational tone, the text avoids obvious personal bias.
The content is up-to-date, including discussion of social media and references to recent works of media criticism. The rapid development of new media makes it likely that some of the material in this (or any) book will quickly seem dated, but the most time-sensitive material is confined to a few chapters, which should facilitate future updates.
The book is written in clear, easy-to-understand language that should appeal to today's college-age reader.
The text shows good consistency, introducing key ideas early and using them to facilitate understanding of material covered in subsequent chapters.
The chapters are clearly divided into subsections, each with clearly stated learning objectives, key takeaways and learning exercises. Most subsections could stand on their own, and chapters focusing on specific forms of mass media could easily be rearranged or skipped if desired.
The topics are presented in a logical fashion. After introducing basic ideas about media and culture and media effects, the text moves to discussion of various forms of media in chronological orders, and ends with chapters on various mass media applications and issues, such as advertising, public relations, ethics and government regulation.
The text is a basic PDF, with fixed line breaks that limit display options. Most URLs are live links. Footnote numbers and references to chapter sections look like links but are not, which may confuse some readers. A format better-suited for e-readers would be welcome.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The text strives to be culturally neutral, and should not offend any particular group of readers. The text clearly focuses on the U.S. media context, and acknowledges this limitation early on.
This is an impressively comprehensive overview of mass communication, written in a clear and engaging manner. Discussion questions and exercises are helpful resources for classroom use. A glossary, index and more flexible e-format would make this text even more useful. This text is a welcome addition to the field, and will serve students and teachers well.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Media and Culture
- Chapter 2: Media Effects
- Chapter 3: Books
- Chapter 4: Newspapers
- Chapter 5: Magazines
- Chapter 6: Music
- Chapter 7: Radio
- Chapter 8: Movies
- Chapter 9: Television
- Chapter 10: Electronic Games and Entertainment
- Chapter 11: The Internet and Social Media
- Chapter 12: Advertising and Public Relations
- Chapter 13: Economics of Mass Media
- Chapter 14: Ethics of Mass Media
- Chapter 15: Media and Government
- Chapter 16: The Future of Mass Media
About the Book
According to the author, the world did not need another introductory text in mass communication. But the world did need another kind of introductory text in mass communication, and that is how Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication was birthed.
The only question was: What would be the purpose of another introductory mass communication text?
Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication was written to squarely emphasize media technology. The author believes that an introduction to mass communication text should be a compelling, historical narrative sketching the *ongoing evolution* of media technology and how that technology shapes and is shaped by culture — and that is what he set out to deliver with his new textbook.
Today’s students are immersed in media technology. They live in a world of cell phones, smart phones, video games, iPods, laptops, Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and more. They fully expect that new technology will be developed tomorrow. Yet students often lack an historical perspective on media technology. They lack knowledge of the social, political and economic forces that shape media technology. This is not knowledge for knowledge’s sake. It is knowledge that can help them understand, comprehend, appreciate, anticipate, shape and control media technology.
With this focus, Understanding Media and Culture becomes an appropriate title. Indeed, the title has particular significance. Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media is a key text in media studies. Written in the 1960s, Understanding Media was the subject of intense debates that continue to this day. Its central message was that the technology of media — not their content — was their most important feature. In a typically pithy phrase, McLuhan said, "The medium is the message." The title, Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication, situates the introductory text in a large, engrossing theoretical conversation.
The goal is to adopt a textbook that will support and complement your teaching of this course. Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication will support an engaging and interesting course experience for students that will not only show them the powerful social, political and economic forces will affect the future of media technology, but will challenge students to do their part in shaping that future.
About the Contributors
Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication is adapted from a work produced by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative. Though the publisher has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, this adapted edition reproduces all original text and sections of the book, except for publisher and author name attribution.