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ARTICLE: Old theories don’t fit new media

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Old media effects theories, based on simple unidirectional transmission models, are unable to explain modern media, writes Jane B. Singer, of City University London. The author reviews the histories of media and journalism research, and provides ample evidence with which to point out the shortcomings of dominant theories.

For one example Singer uses the widespread “spiral of silence” theory, described by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann in mid-1970’s. It predicts that some opinions will become absent from public discussion, as people who hold them assume themselves to be in a minority. Contemporary scholarship, however, provides evidence of the opposite: in an online environment proponents of marginal opinions are more vocal than the majority.

In her conclusion the author calls for a theoretical revision in journalism studies, away from the age-old transmission model and towards something more befitting the complex realities of the modern media landscape.

The article “Transmission Creep” was published by the journal Journalism Studies. It is available online (abstract free).

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