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the process of creating symbol systems that convey information and meaning (for example, language, Morse code, film, and computer codes)


the symbols of expression that individuals, groups, and societies use to make sense of daily life and to articulate their values; a process that delivers the values of a society through products or other meaning-making forms.

mass media

the cultural industries- the channel of communication- that produce and distribute songs, novels, news, movies, online computer services, and other cultural products to a large number of people.

mass communication

the process of designing and delivering cultural messages and stories to diverse audiences through media channels as old as the book and as new as the Internet

digital communication

images, text, and sounds that use pulses of electric current or flashes of laser lights and are converted into electronic signals represented as varied combination of binary numbers, usually ones and zeros; these signals are then reassembled as a precise reproduction of a TV picture, a magazine article, or a telephone voice.


individuals who post or publish an ongoing personal or opinion journal or log online.

media convergence

the process whereby old and new media are available via the integration of personal computers and high-speed satellite-based phone or cable links.

cross platform

what media marketers often call convergence; a particular business model that involves a consolidation of various media holdings- such as cable connection, phone service, television transmission, and Internet access- under one corporate umbrella


the authors, producers, agencies, and organizations that transmit messages to receivers.


the texts, images, and sounds transmitted from senders to receivers

mass media channel

newspapers, books, magazines, radio, tv, or the Internet.


the target of messages crafted by a sender


editors, producers, and other media managers who function as message filters, making decisions about what types of messages actually get produced for particular audiences.


responses from receivers to the senders of messages

selective exposure

the phenomenon whereby audiences remember or seek messages and meanings that correspond to their preexisting beliefs and values


the structure underlying most media products, it includes two components; the story (what happens to whom) and the discourse (how the story is told.)

high culture

a symbolic expression that has come to mean "good taste"; often supported by wealthy patrons and corporate donors; it is associated with fine art (such as ballet, the symphony, painting, and classical literature), which is available primarily in theaters or museums.

low culture

a symbolic expression allegedly aligned with the questionable tastes of the "masses," who enjoy the commercial "junk" circulated by the mass media, such as soap operas, rock music, talk radio, comic books, and monster truck pulls.


term describing a historical era spanning the time from the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries to the present; its social values include celebrating the individual, believing in rational order, working efficiently, and rejecting tradition.

Progressive Era

a period of political and social reform that lasted from 1890s to the 1920s


term describing a contemporary historical era spanning the 1960s to the present; its social values include opposing hierarchy. diversifying and recycling culture, questioning scientific reasoning, and embracing paradox.


a political idea that tries to appeal to ordinary people by contrasting "the people" with "the elite"

Media literacy

an understanding of the mass communication process through the development of critical thinking tools- description, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, engagement- that enable a person to become more engaged as a citizen and more discerning as a consumer of mass media products

Critical process

the process whereby a media-literate person or student studying mass communication forms and practices employs the techniques of description, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, and engagement

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