COMM 101  Study Guide for Exam 1

Lots of definitions of terms. References to our class discussions. References to videos.

How much time does the average American spend watching TV? 3 hours a day

What does media do to us? Helps us know who we are in our society. Socialization

Broadcasting means throwing a wide net. Remember that nowadays more and more are seeing niche programming called narrowcasting. Who likes narrowcasting? Advertisers and viewers.

Who is/are a newspaper’s primary customer(s) Advertisers. And what is their primary product? You are. Readers.

Advertising, bland news and readership. When a newspaper takes editorial positions that its readers usually don’t like, what might happen to readership overall?

Sociologists speak of Structure as "Any recurring pattern of social behavior". Sociologists speak of Agency as "Intentional and undetermined human action".

What is a media conglomerate? A collection of media companies that may operate in highly diverse businesses Conglomerates: Approximately how many major firms dominate the mass media industry? 5-7

What is media concentration? The ownership of media in fewer and fewer hands

What is vertical integration?  What is horizontal integration? (KNOW BOTH OF THESE TERMS AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT)

Example of what can happen to content diversity because of horizontal integration? They might only publish a book if it will be a good movie too.

If McDonalds makes Happy Meals with characters from a Disney movie it's called cross promotion. They both benefit.

If ABC’s Good Morning America show features an item on an upcoming movie that’s put out by Miramax (both companies owned by Walt Disney) it is an example of synergy. Synergy is the relationship between companies that allows them each to do more than either could do on their own. An advantage of horizontal integration.

In 1989 a researcher named Entman set out to discover if it was true that less competition between newspapers in a town created less diversity. He researched towns with competing, cooperating and monopoly newspapers. What did he find? No difference!

Know how news broadcasters have cut quality to increase profits such as:

Media and Politics Images

Can be interesting to look at voter patterns but more importantly, consider what the needs of “Image” do to political campaigns. They live and die and are run by the needs of media.

Telegenic style of Nixon vs. Kennedy in debates. Nixon wanted no makeup – looked sweaty and nervous Radio listeners thought Nixon won, TV viewers thought Kennedy won It was 16 years till next televised debate The lesson was that TV image is very important Appearance matters

News accounts focus on personal stories, personalities and campaign events and do little to discuss actual issues.

Advance People today routinely set up photos with actors and then tell press where to get the best shot complete with lens recommendations. They are controlling images. Even meeting voters, shaking hands, kissing babys is unlikely to happen unless the cameras are there. Image has come to be the “real”. Some evidence suggests voters get more info from campaign commercials than from the news.

Political Parties and Other institutions

People have less interest now in politics and don’t work as hard to learn about issues. Where are they getting information? Ads sell candidates like products.

Order of determinant of vote in the 1940s

Order of determinant of vote in the 1990s

This means media is more important since image and personality are their forte.

Government Regulation

Who's in charge here?

The FCC – Federal Communications Commission.

Mission: To Serve the Public Interest

The FCC tries to...

Balance the interest of various groups

Review it’s rules in light of changing technologies

Create regulation that promotes diversity is in the “public interest”

What the FCC regulates


1996 Deregulation took place… The Telecommunications Act. Changed the priously limits on ownership to allow much more cocentration of ownership.



Ultimately, who loves regulation the best? The big media conglomerates, because it crushes competition - but that limits diversity of voices.

Media Organizations and Professionals

Constraints on news selection

Organization of Media work

Economic Constraints

Profit demands shape programming decisions. But, it’s the structure of economic constraint vs. agency of producers, writers, programmers, etc. Do well and live, do bad and die. It’s human action influenced by the desire to succeed and stay employed. That’s why programs all look the same . "The Logic of Safety." Risks are too risky.

Organization of media work

Many people working together to make the decisions relying on earlier decisions to help decide what is normal.

A media convention is a practice or technique widely used in a field. For instance magazine covers all have the name at the top of the page and a big picture in the center. All evening news casts look the same.

News Routines

What is news? How is it chosen? What is important? What detail about it is important? Which quotes to use. Have to fill a newspaper or TV show everyday. Good or bad there must be news. “Slow news day?” Thousands of things “happen” every day but not all news.

Very often reporters anticipate the news through:

So much news focuses on the activities of official organizations.


We think of Objectivity as having 6 parts.

  1. political neutrality
  2. decency and good taste
  3. documentary reporting using evidence
  4. standardized formats to present info
  5. reporters who are generalists not specialists
  6. internal editorial review to enforce all the above (ombudsman)