Message creators verse message senders: who holds the key to the meaning?
Some theorists have suggested the power to control communication lies with the creators of the messages being transmitted. Others have pointed that within specific cultural contexts, the consumers of the message are able to shape its meaning and control its interpretation. These theories have presented for much debate as the communication field grows in substance and size in line with the ever increasing swell of technology available to the consumer. This paper endeavours to disseminate and understand how the message creator sends their message to the receiver and the subsequent reactions and resolve the receiver has both in a current and past context. A theory is also suggested to ease current pressures that message creators have to succeed in the sending of their messages and the concerns message receivers have with the message dissemination and interpretation.
Mass media messages have been vital in the role of the construction of society since the industry’s invention. McLean (2009) harks back to the hierarchical nature of the Nazi party – “The mass media were vital to the regimes propagandist activities”. Mclean goes on to include that Hitler was “convinced that propaganda was a powerful weapon and should be addressed to the broad masses of people”(Mclean 2009). As propaganda began to surface, organisations became aware of the power of influence. Mills (2002) has typified this in an extremist description of the public being “terrorized into uniformity by the infiltration of informers and the universalisation of suspicion”(Mills 2002 P. 70). The development of the advertorial systems and government persuasion has led to various forms of message communication that are still held by many as the only real way of getting results today. Lippman (1931 P.438) has argued that it is simply the human way – “The ability to present news objectively is not a native instinct in the human species”. Whilst meaning is created through branding, advertising, specific stylistic approaches to communication and cultural creations within organisations or message communicators, it is difficult to lean on these specific techniques, particularly in the aggressive fashion that may have been used within the times of heightened propaganda. As society evolves, it becomes rich in information, the ability of message creators to simply fall back to the build it, create it, say it, and they will come attitude becomes near impossible. With a simple click or call even many of the most disadvantaged within society have the power to develop their own opinions and theories behind the message for themselves creating culture of today or “The totality of communication practices and systems of meaning” as stated by Schirato and Yell (2000)
Some have written communication off in its entirety to allow the message receiver to almost take credit, perhaps, for their interpretation of the message. Often typified within left of field or indie circles, these scholars have said messages are created just as much by the receiver as they were by the creator. Whilst context plays a significant role in the creation of meaning and understanding of a message, it must be remembered that without the message creator, there would be no message to disseminate or understand at all. Flew (2005) has utilised both the above and below arguments to articulate his message of a multiple layer approach when defining technology and culture in today’s era; Common sense, Contextual analysis and communicative / structural analysis all come together within his arguments to define the topic.
Increasing rates of communication have also become apparent through the advent of technology. Communication may have been considered to sit at a healthy equilibrium two decades ago, however the introduction of the internet and subsequent technologies have led us into a position of being ill prepared to cope with the speed of current communication. A number of scholars have put forward arguments of unlimited possibilities the internet creates, and the problems that in turn creates for the human race. Media makers have embraced these new opportunities to “quicken” or speed up the delivery of their messages – “The “time-distortion” of modern media is not trivial. By instilling an impression that nature can move quickly, media cause people to harbour unrealistic expectations: “Fish, trees or soil microorganisms don’t grow fast enough for our speedy timeframe”(Babe 2008 P.18). Marketing professionals and advertising agencies have also realised the research opportunities they have been presented with – “Virtual communities—digital destination wherein consumers interact an create meaningful dialogues with one another—afford many opportunities to marketers”( Jayanti 2010 P.182).
Messages can be created and sent directly to the receiver for intellectual consumption. They can also be created and sent to the receiver only to be disseminated and culturally altered until they become close to opposite or similar to the intended original message. However, the attached appendixes and below arguments suggest within current society that both the message creator and message receiver can be creatively and intellectually satisfied whilst still maintaining the integrity and sustainability of the original message.
Once it was considered that there was an invisible line segregating message creators / senders and message receivers / disseminators, often the media, government or public figure held with them the ability to broadcast directly, with little or no unbiased filtering system in place, a message to their target publics with the expectancy of said target publics responding in the exact manner desired by the message creator. However, as society builds momentum to an information saturated world, the message consumer has become so aware of the message being broadcast that the message is often lost in transmission, or ignored completely. Globalisation has allowed cross continental transaction of information, allowing unprecedented access to the worlds information resources, creating global connections that are “so straightforward they seem local, leading some commentators to describe the planet as a shrinking world” (Willis 1999)
With awareness of the processes employed by message creators, consumers of messages have become near to unassailable, firstly with advertising, however since then also with ever increasing numbers of forms of daily communication that it can be hard to communicate an idea effectively or at all to some. To increase the hostile nature within communications, it must also be noted that executive communication from top tier management in corporate industries have made little to no attempt to readjust their communication strategies in order to compensate for the changing consumer. Often, flexible and in touch marketing and consumer development within middle level management put in place simple procedures to present to their message consumers so that the consumer sees the corporation as being aware of the changing communication environment. However, as upper management have often had numerous marketing, advertising and communications systems in place for some time and to great effect in the past, they often are unable to clearly see the communicative changes needed to update their communication techniques.
This can lead to an altered communication system between the message creator and message receiver (see appendix A). We have seen a near to one hundred per cent biased towards the message creator in the past through war propaganda, governments and the Hollywood golden era, and now are able to see the continued utilisation of these techniques and their ill effect on the disseminator of the message. A suggested seventy five per cent or more swing can be seen (see appendix B) where the disseminator digests a comparatively small amount of sent messages, or part thereof, and returns unnecessarily significant amounts of information and communication in what could be deemed as near to “polite retaliation” in a state of verbal war to today’s Governments, Media, Celebrities, Public figures and other message creators.
Appendix C (theory of Communication equilibrium) puts forward a concept for “middle mediation” of messages communicated between industry and industry, celebrity and public, public and all sectors, media and public and Government and all sectors among others. Whilst, as with many theories, there are notable flaws within the concept, it allows for three significant alterations to the current state of communication.
The initial creators of the message send the message into a middle ground of dissemination. The regulatory bodies act as a mediator to create a sensible and reasonable state in which the message can be received by the intended receiver. It should be noted that practices must also be implemented within the message creator to ensure an effective altercation and administration of the message to the receiver. The central message disseminator effective eradicated the desire to control on the creators behalf, as explained by Boyars (1986) – “Advertising must cover its tracks and assert that these choices are the result of personal taste” (Boyars 1986 P.67). These could include changes in message creator culture – some message creators, particularly across corporate and artistic fields, have engrained within them a specific organisational culture. Record labels have significant power over both the business and artistic direction of not just an artist’s record, but also of their entire career when under contract to said label. The record label may be adamant about insisting with tens or hundreds of thousands of physical prints of the artist’s next album, without realising or understanding the shift to digital sales, downloading and alternate artist revenue streams. Without recognising these new areas within the culture of the music industry, the receivers (public, in this case) of their message that you can only buy the artists CD at a retail store at a much higher price than a digital copy would become disgruntled.
The message receivers respond via regulating bodies, altering their responses into digestible and useful information to the message creator. The message receiver should be automated to create a less abrupt and significantly less negative response due to the more succinct and applicable style of delivery and information contained within the message creators message.
There is a creation of a dual stage regulatory system where by bodies made up of impartial individuals sourced equally from all sectors create into two sets of message disseminators and mediators. The nature of the dual stage system allows for as close as practically possible to complete accountability. Body A liaises with body B over concerned communications between sender and receiver, and any subsequent communications from there.
Within the increasing information society presents to us, it has become evident that there is a discourse between message creator and message receiver. Whilst this has been evident for some time, and has fluctuated significantly to aide both the creator and the receiver within their respective times, it is important to realise the need for a shift of perspective from both the creator and the receiver. Today there are still extensive messages created to be directly ingested and committed to action by masses of consumers or organisations, however, there is also an unprecedented level of severe retaliation and message altercation through meaning from the message receiver. The result from the unaligned nature of our communication system suggests rather than radical shifts within either party, a smaller, simpler, easier, and more appropriate adjustment of our styles of communicating and receiving would allow for freer trade of product, freer availability of knowledge and a more open and accessible communication system where by all parties can quickly and easily benefit from.
Appendix A – Propaganda communication concept
Appendix B – Independent, modernist communication / resistance to commercial communication concept
Message retaliation / ill acceptance
Appendix C – Proposed communication equilibrium – Note equal size / communicable abilities for both creator and receiver.
Appendix D – Authors notes on “Indie” and outliers.
As with any academic work, it is important to consider the full scope of the topic being discussed. Within the field of communications and more specifically, message creation and dissemination, some minority groups have risen to portray a coloured approach to the subject.
Independent (or indie) groups entailing film / production houses, street press, musical groups, bands, reporters, writers and actors (often typified by their professions within the creative disciplines) have long produced messages often vastly different from those presented by mainstream media. Their ability to function on little or no credibility or financial significance has earned them a less than equal, yet significant following of publics when comparing to mainstream message creators (major newspapers, television etc.), and determined their importance within this study. Their “creation of cool” also lends itself to accumulation of an almost cult like following in teenage and young adult groups. The area is well understood and summed up by Anderson, explaining, “a new, less genteel challenge to traditional journalism emerged as a cluster of radically participatory citizen journalism Web sites grouped under the banner of the Indymedia movement. Indymedia’s slogan sums up much of its emphasis during these years: “don’t hate the media, become the media”(Anderson 2011 p. 534, 535).
Outliers and minorities must also be validated. Though, once again, they share a slim portion of the total possible creators and disseminators of messages, they are in a position to allow message meaning to be altered in various ways. The work within this paper does rely on some assumptions of the typical reader. Their ability to understand creation and dissemination of messages must be relevant, but the fashion in which this knowledge or ability to understand was generated goes beyond assumption, to a state of being born with or raised with the knowledge of computers, internet and digital media. It must therefore be mentioned, that not all individuals who create, send and receive messages are digital natives or even digital immigrants. Many cultures outside of the western world are yet to experience digital media in its full scope, and many societies within western culture are still under heavy restrictions in regard to message creation, sending, receiving or access to digitised media platforms. Their systems are currently based around sender and receiver models popularised prior to the advent of computer systems, rendering this paper of a less useful nature to this portion of the general populous.
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