Mass Media Effects
In these present times, it is not easy to just think, talk or write about mass media or mass communication. It seems that if you do not include numbers, tables or graphics, your contribution might be, in the best of the cases, ignored. The product of individual observation and reflection is, de facto, worthless. It is not entitled to use the adjective in vogue in contemporary social and communication sciences: empirical.
In 1922, Walter Lippmann, without using a single number, published the most important book in communication sciences: Public Opinion. The book is insightful, prophetic. Lippmann anticipates most of the findings that the self-proclaimed empirical researchers have been – more or less convincingly – validating for the last – almost 100 years. In Public Opinion, we can read about the actual power of gatekeepers, the tendency of the audiences to avoid discomfort and the repercussions of this fact for the media business, the power of mass media to set the public’s agenda or to construct what we take for the real world, the use of frames of reference to favor certain interpretations of facts, or the very specific factors that make news.
Lippmann structures his book on the basis of the three vertexes of a triangle formed by mass media, political power and public opinion. Since public opinion is the only legitimate source of power in a self-proclaimed democratic regime, Lippmann’s main concern is to explore which is the actual impact of mass media on public opinion.
My research in mass communication also focuses on that triangular interrelation. I connect the study of mass media with my main focus of research: the study of public opinion contents and dynamics. I find particularly fascinating how mass media and public opinion, through a complex system of mutual influences, determine the political and economic fate of individual, political or corporate actors.
I have been deeply involved in the curricular development in the area of digital communication technologies. I have added new courses that explore the new mass communication paradigm brought about by the digital revolution.
As a necessary consequence, I have also added this topic to my research agenda. I started focusing on the educational aspect of it, exploring ways to integrate the subject into the communication curriculum. Later, I became concerned about how new digital platforms, especially social media, were penetrating into our students’ lives and our educational institutions, and what the actual impact of this penetration was in different areas of their lives, such as academic performance, traditional media usage, and mental health.
The Post-history Generation Goes to College. Media Usage and Academic Performance in the Age of Social Media. (Book in progress)
The Show of Shame and the PR value of Honor (Das Schauspiel der Schande und der PR Wert der Ehre: Anatomie eines Skandals). Augenblick 48/49. Herbst 2010.
The Case Uwe Barschel. A Modern Honor Tragedy (Der Fall Uwe Barschel. Eine Ehrentragödie in der politischen Arena) Politische Kommunikation. Thomas Roessing (Ed.) Baden-Baden: NOMOS Verlag. pp. 25-53.
PR: Historical Classics and Contemporary Masterpieces. Shanghai: Fudan University Press.