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Introduction to Mass Communication

COMMUNICATION MODELS GRAPHIC PRESENTATION OF COMPLEX ISSUES

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Introduction to Mass Communication ­ MCM 101
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LESSON 05
COMMUNICATION MODELS ­ GRAPHIC PRESENTATION OF COMPLEX ISSUES
True, the Shannon-Weaver's model received attention of communication experts but as we know
Shannon was not working to bring the communication ­ as we understand the term for exchange of
messages for human consumption, in the form of a model. His endeavor was more on the engineering side
where he was trying to put the elements of communication like the encoder and decoder along with channel
in some logical sequence. To his own extent he was successful. But it also showed way to communicators of
information in daily life how to manipulate different elements of communication graphically.
The major missing point or the drawback in Shannon-Weaver's model was that it showed little concern on
the interpretation of the message. In a mechanical way he was more interested in decoding a message. But,
as students of communication will agree, interpreting a message to give it meaning for a person, who is
denoted as receiver, is entirely a different process. There is no decoder invented so far which could decode
meaning of a human message to the extent as it is meant by the source of the sender.
This huge gap remained a point of concern by many till Schramm and Osgood developed a model by
basically modifying the Shannon weaver's model by adding the elements of decoding in the sense of
interpretation and giving the process of communication a much desired loop, circle, in the form of
feedback.
Before we continue talking Schramm's model lets have a break and see communication models from a
different angle:
Advantages of Models
Should give general perspective
A good model is useful, then, in providing both general perspective and particular vantage points
from which to ask questions and to interpret the raw stuff of observation. The more complex the subject
matter--the more amorphous and elusive the natural boundaries--the greater are the potential rewards of
model building.
Should clarify complexity
Models also clarify the structure of complex events. They do this, as well known communication
scholar, Chapanis (1961) noted, by reducing complexity to simpler, more familiar terms. Thus, the aim of a
model is not to ignore complexity or to explain it away, but rather to give it order and coherence.
Should lead us to new discoveries
According to Mortensen, another prominent scholar, at another level models have scientific value; that
is, they provide new ways to conceive of hypothetical ideas and relationships. This may well be their most
important function. With the aid of a good model, suddenly we are jarred from conventional modes of
thought. Ideally, any model, even when studied casually, should offer new insights and culminate in what
can only be described as an "Aha!" experience.
Limitations of Models
But studying various aspects of communication through models is not devoid of certain drawbacks.
Here are few points to keep in mind.
a. Can lead to over simplifications
There is no denying that much of the work in designing communication models illustrates the
often-repeated charge that anything in human affairs which can be modeled is by definition too superficial
to be given serious consideration.
We can guard against the risks of over simplification by recognizing the fundamental distinction between
simplification and over-simplification. By definition, and of necessity, models simplify. So do all
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Introduction to Mass Communication ­ MCM 101
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comparisons. As Kaplan (1964) noted, "Science always simplifies; its aim is not to reproduce the reality in
all its complexity, but only to formulate what is essential for understanding, prediction, or control that a
model is simpler than the subject-matter being inquired into.
b. Can lead to a confusion of the model between the behaviors it portrays
Mortensen: Critics also charge that models are readily confused with reality. The problem typically
begins with an initial exploration of some unknown territory....Then the model begins to function as a
substitute for the event: in short, the map is taken literally. And what is worse, another form of ambiguity is
substituted for the uncertainty the map was designed to minimize. What has happened is a sophisticated
version of the general semanticist's admonition that "the map is not the territory." Spain is not pink because
it appears that way on the map, and Minnesota is not up because it is located near the top of a United States
map.
"The proper answer lies in acquiring skill in the art of map reading."
c. Premature Closure
The model designer may escape the risks of oversimplification and map reading and still fall prey to
dangers inherent in abstraction. To press for closure is to strive for a sense of completion in a system.
The danger is that the model limits our awareness of unexplored possibilities of conceptualization. We
tinker with the model when we might be better occupied with the subject-matter itself. Building a model, in
short, may crystallize our thoughts at a stage when they are better left in solution, to allow new compounds
to precipitate
Having seen this discussion by a range of scholars, we continue to figure out more about the model we have
chosen for analysis.
Schramm-Osgood's Interactive Model, 1954
Field of Experience
Field of Experience
Signal
Source
Encoder
Decoder
Destination
Noise
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Introduction to Mass Communication ­ MCM 101
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a. Background
Wilbur Schramm (1954) was one of the first to alter the mathematical model of Shannon and
Weaver. He conceived of decoding and encoding as activities maintained simultaneously by sender and
receiver; he also made provisions for a two-way interchange of messages. Notice also the inclusion of an
"interpreter" as an abstract representation of the problem of meaning.
The strong points
1. This model provided the additional notion of a "field of experience," or the psychological frame of
reference; this refers to the type of orientation or attitudes that interacting people maintain toward each
other.
2. Included Feedback
Communication is reciprocal, two-way, even though the feedback may be delayed.
 Some of these methods of communication are very direct, as when you talk in direct response to
someone.
 Others are only moderately direct; you might squirm when a speaker drones on and on, wrinkle your
nose and scratch your head when a message is too abstract, or shift your body position when you
think it's your turn to talk.
 Still other kinds of feedback are completely indirect.
Few examples from our daily life
 Politicians discover if they're getting their message across by the number of votes cast.
 Commercial sponsors examine sales figures to gauge their communicative effectiveness in ads.
 Teachers measure their abilities to get the material across in a particular course by seeing how many
students sign up for it the next term.
3. Included Context
A message may have different meanings, depending upon the specific context or setting. Shouting "Fire!"
on a rifle range produces one set of reactions, reactions quite different from those produced in a crowded
theater, though the word is the same. Culturally a message may have different meanings associated with it
depending upon the culture or society. Communication systems, thus, operate within the confines of
cultural rules and expectations to which we all have been educated.
Drawback
Schramm's model, though less linear, still accounts for only bilateral communication between two
parties. The complex, multiple levels of communication between several sources is beyond this model.
The concepts of model carry some more points to students of communication. A few are mentioned below:
Entropy
Entropy is the measure of uncertainty in a system. Uncertainty or entropy increases in exact
proportion to the number of messages from which the source has to choose. In the simple matter of
flipping a coin, entropy is low because the destination knows the probability of a coin's turning up either
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Introduction to Mass Communication ­ MCM 101
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heads or tails. In the case of a two-headed coin, there can be neither any freedom of choice nor any
reduction in uncertainty so long, as the destination knows exactly what the outcome must be. In other
words, the value of a specific bit of information depends on the probability that it will occur. In general, the
informative value of an item in a message decreases in exact proportion to the likelihood of its occurrence.
Redundancy
Redundancy is the degree to which information is not unique in the system. Those
items in a message that add no new information are redundant. Perfect redundancy is equal to total
repetition and is found in pure form only in machines. In human beings, the very act of repetition changes,
in some minute way, the meaning or the message and the larger social significance of the event. Zero
redundancy creates sheer unpredictability, for there is no way of knowing what items in a sequence will
come next. As a rule, no message can reach maximum efficiency unless it contains a balance between the
unexpected and the predictable, between what the receiver must have underscored to acquire understanding
and what can be deleted as extraneous.
Noise
The measure of information not related to the message. "Any additional signal that interferes with
the reception of information is noise. In electrical apparatus noise comes only from within the system,
whereas in human activity it may occur quite apart from the act of transmission and reception. Interference
may result, for example, from background noise in the immediate surroundings, from noisy channels (a
crackling microphone), from the organization and semantic aspects of the message, or from psychological
interference with encoding and decoding. Noise need not be considered a detriment unless it produces a
significant interference with the reception of the message. Even when the disturbance is substantial, the
strength of the signal or the rate of redundancy may be increased to restore efficiency.
Channel Capacity
The measure of the maximum amount of information a channel can carry. "The battle against
uncertainty depends upon the number of alternative possibilities the message eliminates. Suppose you want
to know where a given checker was located on a checkerboard. If you start by asking if it is located in the
first black square at the extreme left of the second row from the top and find the answer to be no, sixty-
three possibilities remain-a high level of uncertainty. On the other hand, if you first ask whether it falls on
any square at the top half of the board, the alternative will be reduced by half regardless of the answer. By
following the first strategy it could be necessary to ask up to sixty-three questions (inefficient indeed!); but
by consistently halving the remaining possibilities, you will obtain the right answer in no more than six tries.
Berlo's S-M-C-R Model (1960)
David Berlo's SMCR Model (1960) proposes that there are five elements within both the
source/encoder and the receiver/decoder which will affect fidelity.
Source-Receiver relationship
Berlo's approach is rather different from what seems to be suggested by the more straightforward
transmission models in that he places great emphasis on dyadic communication, therefore stressing the role
of the relationship between the source and the receiver as an important variable in the communication
process.
"A given source may have a high level of skill not shared by one receiver, but shared by another. We cannot
predict the success of the source from her skill level alone." Berlo (1960)
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Introduction to Mass Communication ­ MCM 101
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Communication Skills
There are five verbal communication skills, according to Berlo:
Two are encoding skills:
 speaking
 writing
Two are decoding skills:
 listening
 reading
The fifth is crucial to both encoding and decoding:
 thought or reasoning, though you may perhaps wish to object that to place such emphasis on
reasoning, what we generally think of as an intellectual skill, to the detriment of emotion or feeling,
is unreasonable
As encoders, our communication skills level affects our communication fidelity in two ways, according to
Berlo:
 It affects our ability to analyse our own purposes and intentions, our ability to say something when
we communicate - you may perhaps take issue with Berlo on this, since it is not apparent to all of
us that we necessarily use verbal skills in reflecting on our purposes and intentions.
 It affects our ability to encode messages which say what we intend. Our communication skills, our
facility for handling the language code, affect our ability to encode thoughts that we have. We
certainly all have experienced the frustration of not being able to find the 'right word' to express
what we want to say. Bearing in mind Berlo's insistence on the dyadic nature of communication, we
need to remember that finding the 'right word' is not simply a matter of finding one which
expresses what we want to say to our own satisfaction. It also has to have approximately the same
meaning for the receiver as it does for us.
Knowledge level
Socio Cultural systems
Attitudes
Message (code, content, treatment)
Channel (five senses)
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Table of Contents:
  1. MASS COMMUNICATION AN OVERVIEW:Relationships, Power
  2. EARLY MASS COMMUNICATION AND PRINTING TECHNOLOGY
  3. SEVEN CENTURIES OF MASS COMMUNICATION FROM PRINTING TO COMPUTER
  4. ELEMENTS OF COMMUNICATION AND EARLY COMMUNICATION MODELS
  5. COMMUNICATION MODELS GRAPHIC PRESENTATION OF COMPLEX ISSUES
  6. TYPES AND FORMS OF COMMUNICATION:Inter personal, Combination
  7. MESSAGE ROOT OF COMMUNICATION I:VERBAL MESSAGE, Static Evaluation
  8. MESSAGE ROOT OF COMMUNICATION II:Conflicts, Brevity of Message
  9. EFFECTS OF COMMUNICATION:Helping Out Others, Relaxation
  10. COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE:Enculturation, Acculturation
  11. LANGUAGE IN COMMUNICATION:Polarization, Labeling, Static meanings
  12. STEREOTYPING A TYPICAL HURDLE IN MASS COMMUNICATION:Stereotype Groups
  13. MASS MEDIA HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE:Early analysis on manuscripts
  14. EMERGENCE OF PRINT MEDIA AROUND THE WORLD:Colonial journalism
  15. TELEGRAPH DOES MIRACLE IN DISTANCE COMMUNICATION TELEX AND TELEPHONE ENTHRALL PRINT COMMUNICATION
  16. TYPES OF PRINT MEDIA:Newspapers, Magazines, Books
  17. PRESS FREEDOM, LAWS AND ETHICS NEW DEBATE RAGING STILL HARD
  18. INDUSTRIALIZATION OF PRINT PROCESSES:Lithography, Offset printing
  19. EFFECTS OF PRINT MEDIA ON SOCIETY:Economic ideas, Politics
  20. ADVERTISING HAND IN HAND WITH MEDIA:Historical background
  21. RENAISSANCE AND SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION: ROLE OF PRINT MEDIA:Science
  22. RECAP:Elements of communication, Books, Printing, Verbal Message
  23. MEDIA MANAGEMENT:Division, Business section, Press
  24. IMAGES IN MASS COMMUNICATION INVENTION OF PHOTOGRAPHY:Portrait photography
  25. MOTION PICTURES A NEW WAY IN MASS COMMUNICATION-I:Definition
  26. MOTION PICTURES A NEW WAY IN MASS COMMUNICATION (Cont...):Post-Studio Era
  27. FILM MEDIA IN SUBCONTINENT AND PAKISTAN-I:Accusations of plagiarism
  28. FILM MEDIA IN SUBCONTINENT AND PAKISTAN (II) & ITS EFFECTS:First Color film
  29. PROPAGANDA:Types in another manner, Propaganda in revolutions
  30. RADIO A BREAKTHROUGH IN MASS COMMUNICATION:What to broadcast
  31. EFFECTS OF RADIO ON SOCIETY:Entertainment, Information, Jobs
  32. TELEVISION A NEW DIMENSION IN MASS COMMUNICATION:Early Discoveries
  33. TV IN PAKISTAN:Enthusiasm, Live Broadcast, PTV goes colored
  34. EFFECTS OF TELEVISION ON SOCIETY:Seeing is believing, Fashion
  35. PUBLIC RELATIONS AND MASS COMMUNICATION - I:History, Case Study
  36. PUBLIC RELATIONS AND MASS COMMUNICATION - II:Audience targeting
  37. ADVERTISING BEYOND PRINT MEDIA:Covert advertising
  38. IMPACT OF ADVERTISING:Trial, Continuity, Brand Switching, Market Share
  39. MEDIA THEORIES:Libertarian Theory, Social Responsibility Theory
  40. NEW MEDIA IN MASS COMMUNICATION:Technology forcing changes
  41. GLOBALIZATION OF MEDIA:Media and consumerism, Media centralization
  42. MEDIA MERGENCE:Radio, TV mergence, Economic reasons
  43. MASS MEDIA IN PRESENT AGE:Magazine, Radio, TV
  44. CRITICISM ON MEDIA:Sensationalize, Biasness, Private life, obscenity
  45. RECAP:Legends of South Asian Film Industry, Radio, Television, PTV goes colored