Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication
Pub Date: 2016
ISBN 13: 9781946135261
Publisher: University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing
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This text is comprehensive on several levels. Theoretically, this text echoes the framework employed by Pavlik and McIntosh, which displays sensitivity to convergence. However, this text understands convergence on multiple levels, not just the... read more
This text is comprehensive on several levels. Theoretically, this text echoes the framework employed by Pavlik and McIntosh, which displays sensitivity to convergence. However, this text understands convergence on multiple levels, not just the three employed by P and M. This text is well-researched, with ample citations on a whole host of media topics. Each chapter has multiple ways that it tests the reader, with "Key Takeaways," "Learning Objectives," etc. And finally, the text features chapters on the history and development of key historical media, as well as key emerging media.
Some students find Pavlik and McIntosh a bit too transparent in their Marxist assumptions. While this text certainly introduces Marx-based theories about media, it seems to do a better job of contextualizing them among several other competing perspectives.
Some of the popular culture texts felt a bit dated--for example, opening the "Music" chapter (Chapter 6) with an extended case study about Colbie Caillat. Unfortunately, this is the nature of mass media studies--as soon as books come into print, they are out of date. But I have a hard time imagining my mass communication students being inspired and engaged by a Colbie Caillat case study. I'm not sure what the alternative is; but it seemed worth mentioning. Other examples are much more effective and successful. The historical examples from different types of media are well-chosen, thoroughly explained, and insightful. Also, this text discusses emerging media more successfully than any other texts I have used.
The style of this text is straightforward and scholarly. It seems to strike an effective balance between accessibility and specialized language. For example, key concepts such as "gatekeeper" and "agenda setting theory" are introduced early and applied in several places throughout the text.
Like Pavlik and McIntosh, this text uses the concept of "convergence" to explain several key phenomena in mass communication. Unlike P and M, this text understands "convergence" on more than three levels. Like P and M, this concept becomes the "glue" that holds the various topics and levels of analysis together. As mentioned before, this text is especially effective in that it introduces foundational concepts early on and applies them consistently across succeeding chapters.
On one hand, this text rates highly in "modularity," because I could imagine myself breaking its chapters apart and re-arranging them in a different order than they are presented here. This is in no way meant as a criticism. I routinely have to assign chapters in more conventional texts in a different order. The fact that the technology involved in delivering this text makes it easier to re-arrange is one of its best selling points. The reason I scored this as a "4" is because some of the chapters are quite dense, in terms of volume (not in terms of difficulty). Therefore, I could see students perhaps losing focus to some degree. I might combat this by making further breakdowns and re-arrangements within chapters. This is not a fatal flaw--but it does seem like a practical challenge of using this text.
As mentioned above, some of the chapters are quite dense, in terms of volume. Chapter One is such a chapter, for example. I could easily see Chapter One comprising two or three chapters in another textbook. Consequently, there is a likelihood that students would need some guidance as they read such a dense chapter; and they would likely benefit from cutting the chapter down into smaller, more easily digestible samples. On the other hand, the Key Takeaways, and Learning Objectives, will counteract this tendency for students to be overwhelmed or confused. They are quite helpful, as are the summarizing sections at the ends of each chapter.
I did not encounter any problems with interface. In fact, the illustrations, figures, charts, photographs, etc. are a real strength of this text. They are better than any other text I have seen at creating "symbolic worlds" from different forms of media.
The writing style is professional and free of errors.
This is a genuine concern for mass media texts. Media content is a direct reflection of culture, and today's culture is characterized by a high level of divisiveness. I did not detect any examples or samples that were outwardly offensive or especially controversial. But, perhaps, there is a slight bias toward "the status quo" in the case studies and examples--meaning that many (but certainly not all) of them seem to be "Anglo," Caucasian artists. Looking at the "Music" chapter, for example, some popular culture critics (and students) might lament that Taylor Swift is an exemplar. While this choice is undeniable in terms of the popularity of her recordings and concerts, some might hope for examples that represent stylistic originality, genre-transcending, and progressive ideas (Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, etc.).
I have been using the same text for seven years (Pavlik and McIntosh). I have decided to adopt Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication. It is simply more thorough in its sweep of history and contextualization of culture, more multi-layered in its theoretical perspectives, and more rich in its examples and insights. This books is recommendable not just as an open source text, but as it compares to any conventional text. Students will benefit greatly from reading this text.
Understanding Media and Culture: an Introduction to Mass Communication covers all the important topics in mass communication and media history. It also provides case studies, Key Takeaways, Exercises, End-of-Chapter Assessment, Critical Thinking... read more
Understanding Media and Culture: an Introduction to Mass Communication covers all the important topics in mass communication and media history. It also provides case studies, Key Takeaways, Exercises, End-of-Chapter Assessment, Critical Thinking Questions, and Career Connections in every chapter. Although this book does not provide a glossary, the comprehensiveness of the book still makes it a great textbook choice.
While the information was accurate and the discussions on key issues were supported by good references, it was odd to see the questionable formatting and quality of the first reference on page 3: Barnum, P. T.” Answers.com, http://www.answers.com/topic/p-t-barnum. --> First of all, Answers.com is not considered as a credible source by many scholars and the other half of the quotation marks was missing.
The major weakness of this book is the fact that many of the references were outdated. For example, on page 479, the statistics in the section, "Information Access Like Never Before," the cited reports were from 2002 and 2004. When discussing topics such as Net Neutrality, digital service providers, new policies and technologies, the urgency for updated information becomes evident. However, as the author correctly pointed out: "Although different forms of mass media rise and fall in popularity, it is worth noting that despite significant cultural and technological changes, none of the media discussed throughout this text has fallen out of use completely."
The writing in this book is very clear and easy to understand. The colored images, figures and tables should be very helpful in terms of student comprehension and engagement.
The framework and terminology are consistent throughout the book.
Each chapter can be assigned to students as a stand-along reading, and can be used to realign with other subunits should an instructor decide to compile reading within this book or from different sources.
Each chapter follows similar flow/ format: the history, evolution, economics, case studies and social impact of a mass medium, followed by Key Takeaways, Exercises, End-of-Chapter Assessment, Critical Thinking Questions, Career Connections and References. It was easy to navigate the topics and sections in this book.
I downloaded the book as a PDF and had no problem to search or navigate within the file. The book can also be viewed online or in a Kindle reader.
I spotted a few minor formatting or punctuation issues such as the missing quotation marks stated earlier, but no glaring errors as far as I know.
While it mainly focuses on American media and culture, this book contains statistics and cases from many countries (e.g. Figure 11.7), provides many critical thinking exercises and is sensitive towards diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Overall, this is a high-quality textbook and it contains almost all the key issues in today's media studies in spite of the somewhat outdated data and statistics. The strengths of this book are: Excellent historical examples, critical analysis and reflections, clearly defined key issues and in-depth discussions. Even when using the most recent edition of textbooks, I always research for updates and recent cases. This open resource textbook makes an outstanding alternative to those high-priced textbooks.
Perhaps the best quality of this text, Understanding Media and Culture is a very comprehensive textbook. I have used this text in my Mass Media & Communication course for two years now. Each chapter focuses on a different type of medium,... read more
Perhaps the best quality of this text, Understanding Media and Culture is a very comprehensive textbook. I have used this text in my Mass Media & Communication course for two years now. Each chapter focuses on a different type of medium, starting with the earliest books and working its way up to the latest technological advancements in mass media. Other beneficial topics include: Media & Culture, Media Effects, Economics of Mass Media, Media Ethics, Media and Government, and the Future of Mass Media. These topics provide a solid base for a 100 or 200-level introductory communication course. They also were written in a way that each chapter provided sufficient material for a week's worth of discussion.
This book was written in a very unbiased manner. It is completely factual, and not much room is left for subjective interpretation. The discussion questions allowed multiple themes and schools of thought to be explored by the students. Because this book is intended for an introductory course, the information is fairly basic and widely-accepted.
My biggest issue with this title was that the latter chapters were not written with the same quality as the first ten or so chapters. However, that was the thought I had after the first semester I used this text. Since then, multiple updates have been written and the entire text is now written in the same high-quality throughout. Because this title is being constantly updated by its authors and publishers, the text is never obsolete.
Terminology is clearly defined, and students have little trouble finding definitions in the glossary. Because this text is written for an introductory course, there are not many intense or confusing concepts for students to understand.
As previously mentioned, the biggest struggle I've had with this text is the fact that the latter third was not written to the same quality of the first ten chapters. However, this issue seems to have been remedied in the latest edition of this text.
The modularity was the biggest selling point for me with this text. Our semester runs 15 weeks, the same number of chapters in this text. I was able to easily focus our classroom discussions and assignments on the chapter theme each week. The text also provides plenty of material for two or three discussions.
The text starts by introducing some basic concepts like culture and effects. From there, it focuses on ten different types of media (books, newspaper, radio, television, etc.). The concluding three chapters go back to concepts such ethics and the future of mass media. While not a major issue, there was a major difference in the tone of the two types of chapters.
This text is available in .pdf, kindle, .epub, and .mobi formats, as well as in browser. While nothing fancy or groundbreaking in terms of usability, it is simple and all of my students were able to download the format that best suited their individual needs.
The text contained no grammatical errors that I noticed in the latest edition, a tremendous improvement from the first semester I used this text.
I did not find the content to be culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It used a variety of examples from the world's history, but I found none of them to be inherently offensive. The subject matter and the fact that this is an introductory text probably assist with the cultural relevance because it is easy to understand, but the themes rarely get into "deep" discussion.
This is a fantastic text. Comparing it to other texts for my COMM 2200 Mass Media & Society text, this textbook was not only easier for my students to understand, but it was written and compiled in a way that made teaching the material enjoyable and easy. I have recommended this book to the other instructors of this course because it allows our students to save money without sacrificing anything in terms of content or learning.
Overall the book is comprehensive, covering everything from books to radio to electronic media & social media. Each topic has a descent amount of information on both the history and evolution, as well as where we are today (though, as tends to... read more
Overall the book is comprehensive, covering everything from books to radio to electronic media & social media. Each topic has a descent amount of information on both the history and evolution, as well as where we are today (though, as tends to be the nature of the industry, the “today” piece gets outdated quickly. However, the text covers the topics that most other texts of this subject cover as well. I would have liked to have seen just a bit more depth and analysis, instead of the broad, surface-level coverage.
The text is fairly accurate, though, with the rapid rate of change, it’s difficult to be accurate shortly after publication. Using sites such as MySpace as an example, or only looking at movies put out through about 2007, impacts the accuracy as society has changed and moved on. Students in 2018 are given more of a historical perspective from when they were kids more so than having a representation of what media means in today’s world.
This is a hard one because the historical information stands the test of time, but many of the examples fall short for today’s students. The Social Media chapter still references MySpace and Friendster as current platforms and only goes as far as FaceBook & Twitter. The author makes it a point to clarify when the book what published, which helps, but, again, it’ll be hard for a current student to see past that when they’ve grown up with the platform being discussed as “new” and have moved on.
The book is fairly fast-paced and easy enough to follow for lower level or beginner students. Examples are easy to follow and the key takeaway boxes and exercises help further basic understanding.
The chapters are fairly consistent, covering the basic history, evolution, and influence/impact.
The text can easily be used as formatted, or broken up into sections and moved around.
The organization is fairly straightforward. Earlier forms of mass communication are covered first, moving on to newer forms. Once students have a basic understanding of each form, they can then move on to topics like ethics, government, and economics, which need that basic understanding to fully grasp the larger concepts.
The book is easy to navigate with had no issues viewing the photos or charts.
The book is well written and free of any gratuitous errors.
The book does a good job of focusing on US media and society. It uses pretty typical examples, though it could incorporate more relevant examples to today’s students. Some case studies reference minority groups, but it would have been nice to see even more examples featuring minority groups. Also, Using YouTube as a “new” viewing outlet and discussing “The war between satellite and cable television” and DirectTV versus Dish makes the cultural relevance more towards older generations than younger ones.
Overall the book does a great job with the history of mass communication and society. It would work for any lower level course. However, the examples are fairly out of date and the instructor would have to present more recent and relevant examples in class.
I like the way that the author has broadened the scope of the book to incorporate so many aspects of culture, society, politics and economics that some people would be inclined to distinguish from the mass media, when in reality, all these aspects... read more
I like the way that the author has broadened the scope of the book to incorporate so many aspects of culture, society, politics and economics that some people would be inclined to distinguish from the mass media, when in reality, all these aspects of contemporary life are intertwined with and influenced by media messages. It provides an historical retrospective but also shows how convergence and constantly-evolving technologies have driven the way consumers use the media and the way producers will use those technologies to rivet the attention (and influence the purchasing choices) of today’s consumers. The text incorporates the most salient areas of media’s evolution and influence.
The book appears to be objective and adopts a critical but non-partisan perspective. It presents data, including media laws and policies, accurately, and the cases it cites are well documented. The author provides sufficient references to support the facts he states and the conclusions he draws. Caveat--The media landscape and technologies are constantly evolving, so the book is accurate for its time of publication but needs to be updated to include new developments.
The way that the author integrates the historical perspective with current roles of social media in is a clear indication of its relevance. The dates may change, as may the celebrities, industrialists, spokespersons, and there may be geopolitical and cultural shifts, but the author’s explanation of theories/principles and the cases selected show how mass media power and influence are here to stay. The author advances the salient issues at each juncture and contextualizes so they we can relate them to current events. The book could be updated but is still has relevance/longevity.
The book is written in a language that is accessible to the layman/beginning student of mass media. The cases that are boxed, and key takeaways at the end of each chapter further distill what is already explicated. There are many concrete facts but a minimum of jargon and any terms used are adequately explained.
The framework and the terminology are consistent. There is also a consistent structure in terms of the visual layout and breakdown of each chapter’s sections, which makes the material far more accessible to students. It’s reassuring in a way, because students know where to go in each chapter for clarification of terms and restatement of the major media developments or areas of impact.
The book’s content is broken down within chapters into (pardon the expression) digestible chunks. The way each subsection is organized makes sense. The major sections where media, developments, policies, etc., are first introduced are illustrated by boxed portions and then reiterated clearly at the end of the chapter with small, chunked takeaways and questions that challenge the students to ponder issues more deeply. The modules are distinguished by color, typset, size of font, etc. which is aesthetically appealing.
The organization makes sense and the topics segue smoothly from one area of media focus to another. Also, the way the book opens with an overview of mass media and cultural is a good starting point from which to document specific historical eras in the development of communication and to transition from one era of communication to another within a context of technology, politics, industry and other variables.
: The text does not have any interface issues, as it is easy to navigate, all illustrations, charts, and other visuals are clear and distortion-free. All features of the book are legible and all display features are legible and functional.
The book is grammatically accurate and error-free.
The book represents a range of cultural groups in a sensitive and bias-free way. Its discussions of media with regard to both dominant cultures and various minority cultures is respectful, bias-free, and non-stereotypical. It is culturally relevant and inclusive.
For many years, I have used a textbook that I have regarded as very high quality and comprehensive, but as it has become increasingly expensive and out of reach financially for many of my students, I find it hard to justify asking my struggling students to add another financial burden to them. Why should I when they can use this OER textbook? I am seriously considering using Understanding Media and Culture in future semesters and recommending it to my colleagues.
The book covers all of the topics you would expect in an inter/ survey course. read more
The book covers all of the topics you would expect in an inter/ survey course.
The book does a good job of accurately surveying mass communications. Good job sourcing information.
The most recent citations are from 2010. That's just too far in the past for a rapidly changing subject like mass communication.
The book is clear and easy to read. Well written.
The book is internally consistent, with recurring sections.
The book does a good job breaking the information down into smaller reading sections.
The book follows the standard structure and flow for introductory texts in mass communication.
The interface is fine. It's a big book. Would appreciate active links to help skip chapters.
No grammatical errors.
I would appreciate a little more diversity in the examples used.
Really wish the authors would update this a bit. It does a great job with the history. Needs updating on the modern issues.
The presentation of the historical context of media evolution in the US is clear and reasonably detailed, providing a good foundation for an introductory level course. As other reviewers have mentioned, this text was published in 2010 and is out... read more
The presentation of the historical context of media evolution in the US is clear and reasonably detailed, providing a good foundation for an introductory level course. As other reviewers have mentioned, this text was published in 2010 and is out of date in multiple areas, particularly with respect to media laws and regulation, social media, and newer developments of technology (e.g. preference for streaming television, technological and social advancements in gaming). Beyond needing updates to reflect newer advancements in media, this text would benefit from more attention to global media structures, including how they vary across political systems and how they impact how citizens use media to communicate. Additionally, an index and glossary would be helpful for navigation.
I am basing this on the fact that this was published in 2010. Considering the publication date, the factual content for that particular time frame is presented accurately, clearly cited, and reasonably unbiased. There is perhaps an unintended gender bias in the presentation of some content (e.g. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is absent in the music section, as is Nina Simone), though this could be a result of a broader, societal gender bias. Images, charts, and graphs are used well and clearly explained.
The historical content is fine, but the text is almost 9 years out of date and there is a great deal of content that needs to be updated. Making the necessary updates may take some time since the content is tightly written and there are reflections of the date of publication throughout the examples used, images presented, and media discussed. Using this text in class would require the instructor to provide supplemental content on newer advancements in media.
This text is appropriate for a freshman/sophomore level course and reads well. Important terms are defined and each section includes an overview to set a context and clearly defined learning objectives.
The language, terminology, and organization of the text is consistent throughout. This makes moving between chapters easy since they follow a similar format.
With a few exceptions (chapters 1 and 2), the text lends itself well to using different sections at different points. Where there are self-references, there is typically a hyperlink to the section referenced. This is useful for those reading the text online, but less useful if printed sections of text were used.
Chapters 1 and 2 clearly present a structure that the following chapters follow. The only chapter that seems to really break that flow is Chapter 16, but that is more a result of the text being so out of date than a significant change in structure.
I found the online reading format the easiest to navigate. The Word and PDF versions are somewhat more awkward to navigate without using a search keyboard function.
There were a couple minor typos, but no significant grammatical errors that might impact comprehension. The readability assessment (via MS Word) indicated a reading grade level of 13.1, which is consistent with lower division college coursework.
There is a heavy focus on US media, which is acknowledged early on in the text. More integration of content related to global media would strengthen the text. There should be more examples that integrate multiple forms of diversity, such as gender, ability, age, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. Additionally, without an update, younger students may not understand some of the references. For example, younger students in 2018 don’t know Napster as a file-sharing site since it has rebranded to become a streaming site more similar to Spotify.
It would be great to see an update in the content of this text for 2018 that also incorporates broader perspectives of multiple identities and global perspectives. As is, I would use sections of the text and supplement that content with more current examples and issues. Balancing the cost of textbooks in this field with the quality and recency of the content is an ongoing challenge.
This OER is very comprehensive. I used it for an online course as a PDF textbook. While this discipline evolves faster than any other communication area I teach, this book remains solidly grounded in a wide variety of resources and foundational... read more
This OER is very comprehensive. I used it for an online course as a PDF textbook. While this discipline evolves faster than any other communication area I teach, this book remains solidly grounded in a wide variety of resources and foundational theories. As I use it more often, I find myself wanting to update it only for examples regarding the evolution in technology/platforms and the societal/cultural changes that result – not to change the historical content of what is already there.
I haven't come across any factual errors at all.
The examples in this book are often dated. This is my one very mild criticism of this text and only reflects the nature of the information. As we grow into new media and adapt as a society to those delivery methods, it's only natural. I actually use updating the examples in the textbook as an assignment for students. Some closer to up-to-date examples that I have added into my teaching of the course and to the materials are: "Fake news" and social media's role in spreading it, especially in terms of Facebook and the last election Data mining and algorithm practices "Listening" devices and digital assistants, like Siri and Alexa The subculture of podcasts Business models – both for artists and consumers – of streaming services across all media The chapter on convergence is short and could be a text all on its own. Information relating to this topic is sprinkled throughout the book, but the concept itself is so important to analyze that I like to think about it on its own. This is an area I will beef up in future semesters for my own students. Streaming services and online journalism overall are two areas that I have noted to update and reference in nearly every chapter.
The short segments and snippets of information are very helpful and clear for students. It's all very digestible and the vocabulary is at just the right level.
The discussion questions and further reading/information are placed in logical places in each chapter. And this consistency helps the reader understand their prompts and what to do next – and additionally the important topics to take away.
I love how this text can be reordered very easily. Since it's so comprehensive, I actually omit a couple of the chapters (radio and magazines) to take the info at a slower pace and have never struggled with remixing other chapters. In fact, I plan to blend Chapters 11 and 16 (Social Media and New Technology) for my upcoming semesters and have no doubt the text and materials will allow for this.
I like how the chapters primarily focus on one medium at a time. From there, the structure of evolution, technological advancements, social/cultural implications and then a look at trends and emerging controversies helps to build to exciting and relevant discussions and for students to have the backdrop to bring their own insights.
The interface is reliable and easy-to-use. I deliver it as a PDF within my online classroom software. I have never had issues with students downloading and reading on multiple devices – or even printing and referencing – based on their preferences.
This book is very concise and grammatically crisp. It's clear that the authors of the version I am using valued precision in their language and it helps students to see this resource as high-quality!
Cultural and societal relevance are important in this discipline and it's purposely covered in each and every chapter. However, as I mentioned earlier, the examples are outdated in many cases. So I layer this into class discussions and supplement with further readings and assignments. Some of the topics I add are: Representation in entertainment media, like TV and film, for example how the #MeToo movement gained ground based on the film industry Ways that online gaming culture is permissive of the communication of –isms, like sexism and racism Ways that social media and screen time are impacting attention spans, interpersonal relationships/communication and child development How citizen-sourced video and reporting differs from that of trained journalists and how important the differences are The section on media effects is helpful and thorough. I always include a key assignment on this topic. It's also an area I plan to emphasize even more in the future – particularly the idea of tastemaking and gatekeeping. There are many crossovers to many examples that are more up-to-date than the version of the text I have been using.
I love this book and it is on-par with many others I have reviewed for my Introduction to Mass Communication class.
The title Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication suggests that we are looking at a comprehensive introductory text. In my opinion, this book is the most valuable to GE courses and entry level courses across Mass... read more
The title Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication suggests that we are looking at a comprehensive introductory text. In my opinion, this book is the most valuable to GE courses and entry level courses across Mass Communication disciplines, as it does excellent job in covering the fundamentals of mass communication. The textbook is heavy on history, which is a great thing.
I found the content to be accurate and, to my knowledge, error-free.
In comparison with other introductory texts, the content is generally up-to date with current trends. Yet, the distribution of attention towards various forms of media tends to be slightly disproportional. For instance, print magazines alone (essentially, one of many forms of print media that’s experiencing a stable continuous decline) receive as much attention as all forms of social media altogether. As a communications practitioner and an instructor, I was pleased to see information on the merge of paid media and social media (content partnerships and native advertising being the prime examples, albeit these particular terms were not used by the author). On the other hand, some aspects of current media landscape (such as the role of mobile apps, for instance) could be explored further.
The text is written in simple, easy-to-understand language and would be appropriate to non-native speakers.
I find this text to be consistent in terms of terminology.
The book is organized in rather non-trivial fashion, without a unified approach to chapter categorization. Yet, I found this approach refreshing. I loved that the author suggests specific learning outcomes for each section (example: "Distinguish between mass communication and mass media"), key takeaways, and practical exercises. The question bank provided as part of this textbook is a treasure box! It’s a great resource that allows me to have more fun in the classroom by asking interesting questions that wake up the students and generate some amazing answers. The chapters are designed to be used selectively, in no particular order. Big plus.
The content is presented in chronological pattern: from past to future. Other than that, I did not trace much consistency in the material. For instance, Media and Culture is followed by Media Effects, after which the author switches to reviewing various forms of media (Radio, Magazines, Newspapers, etc.). The chapters to follow are Economics of Mass Media and Ethics of Mass Media. I find to be an advantage, as the subsections may be used selectively, and the order may be easily redesigned.
I read the textbook online via the Open Library portal http://open.lib.umn.edu/mediaandculture/chapter/1-2-intersection-of-american-media-and-culture/ . I found the navigation to be very easy. Good interface.
I did not spot any grammatical errors.
I found the content USA-centric. For this reason, it may have limited application to global courses (such as Global Citizens Project courses offered at USF). The majority of case studies are drawn from the United States; much attention is paid to the history of mass media in the USA and current U.S. legislation safeguarding privacy. In today’s increasingly globalized culture and economy, a broader outlook on media and culture may be expected. More international references would enhance the points made by the author. It is important for students to understand that major trends in mass communication, such as convergence of the media, are not unique to the United States. Similarly, increasing media literacy should be positioned as a global, rather than national, priority.
It is a great introductory text that provides a current overview of various forms of media and highlights the role of mass communication in society.
The book should be the perfect fit for my course Understanding Media, as it indeed covers all of the subject matter of the course. The problem is that it is not up to date and therefore detracts from the complete picture that each one of these... read more
The book should be the perfect fit for my course Understanding Media, as it indeed covers all of the subject matter of the course. The problem is that it is not up to date and therefore detracts from the complete picture that each one of these topics delves into. For example, the music section poses the question: How do the various MP3 players differ? It refers to Spin as a magazine (it ceased its print operations in 2012). Or in the section on television, there is a question about the war between satellite and cable television. I think the winner of that is neither, as streaming a la carte is what people are talking about in 2017 as the direction TV is going in. This criticism, of course, is obvious and easy. It's actually an exhaustive book that does contain a wealth of useful information, although no glossary or index – glaring omissions. Unfortunately, it suffers from not being up to 2017, when we are living in an up-to-the-second world. Especially in a field like media studies, it makes this book unusable in its entirety. The chapter ethics and economics aren't as badly out of date.
It is accurate for the time it was written in, but in today's world, much of this doesn't hold up. Just one example, there is the claim that Reader's Digest has the third highest circulation of all magazine, which is no longer the case in 2017. It is not in good shape. Even the references to "President Obama," obviously show that it was written a different era with a very different landscape for the media world. Still, the great majority of it appears to be represented fairly, albeit in an outmoded way. It's just that the trends and latest innovations in 2010 won't even make sense to a college freshman whose frame of reference likely came about three years after
Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement. Obviously, this is a major weak link of the textbook. I've already commented on this, but I think any time the textbook is referring to MySpace or Friendster in a way that suggests that they are viable social media sites, it makes itself into a caricature of an outdated guide.
No real problem here. The book is fully clear, well-written and to the point. The problem is that the point was made in 2010. That said, there is no glossary or index.
Again, this book is solid as a foundational textbook to get students the basic information regarding the history and meaningful cultural highlights of different forms of media. From radio to media and democracy, the lessons are thorough and contain useful and important information. It's just that some of this information is outdated.
The book is quite easy to read, the organization is fine and reads like any typical textbook. I will say that there have been advancements made, and that this book should be more interactive and multi-media if it wants to keep up with the Joneses.
It's fine in this regard. The writing itself is great and it's broken up nicely. Very readable and I wish it was up to date because it's a solid textbook.
This is fine for 2010, but there is no interactivity or video or things to let us know that we are in 2017.It's basic and fine, but nothing stands out are particularly innovative.
Written well. No issue here at all.
Again, this is the fatal flaw of the book. It's just not going to be persuasive if it doesn't manage to maintain the sensibilities of someone in 2017. Between politics and technology there have been extreme shifts in the media in the past few years and a book like this would need to be updated monthly to stay relevant. It could work as a historical document to see how people thought in 2010, but not really as a relevant book today.
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... 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.
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... 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 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... 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 concepts such as ethics and culture. Photojournalism (especially the work of muckrakers such as Jacob... 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. Chapter 2: Media Effects) when some concepts are defined vaguely, but this is not indicative of the book... 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 communication textbook: Media, Books, Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, Movies, TV, Games, Internet &... 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 content considerations, economics and ethics issues related to the mass media. 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 textbooks of media, this particular volume utilizes it in a particularly clear and cogent manner. ... 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 focuses. Moving from Gutenberg’s 15th-century invention of the movable type printing press, through the... 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 dedicated chapter for journalism, this topic is covered at length in some of the other chapters. No... 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.