Limitations of ‘Media Effect’

The idea that what is given, is automatically accepted. That is the media effect in a summarized form. This post discusses the limitations of such a view.

Leading back to the past of how information is communicated (the ages of the roman period, etc), much of the methods used were in a way, a smaller scale of what the nineteenth century used for mass audience communication (television, comics, movies, etc). Scholarly conferences, religious gatherings are a prime example of this. For most of the situations, those processes served purpose, which was to pass seemingly truthful information, but with a clear difference. People could disagree, debate and hold different opinions; which leads to one of my considerations.


The idea that using media, it is assumed that information is factual, rather than disagreeable. Around the period when anxiety started becoming a consideration for media, it became associated that media is responsible for the changes in the society of that period. It is worth noting that media, in my opinion is considered more than images across the black box. Books, mass speeches through radio, any forms of communication through a medium used by the originator and by some means, passed to an audience of sizable proportions, is a possible take on what media is. Relating this to the previous paragraph about the ages before the nineteenth century, information was not automatically accepted when announced to the mass audience. This relates to one of my questions regarding the model’s implied limitation:

Why is it, that using ‘media’ changes information that could be disputed upon, into information that is factual and immediately at face value, accepted? This question can also be applied to how we view information today in society.

It was expanded upon that some classes of people are particularly susceptible to the media effects model during the time the model was founded (Bon, 1896). Children, woman, working class employees. In my opinion, all share a common trait, in that (at that period), they were judged to be less educated or of a ‘lower’ thinking ability then the standard norm of people. Even if that were to be true, it is unfounded that it would in some manner or speaking, ‘lower their defenses’ and thus make them more susceptible to the effects of media. That line of thought implies that there is a defense system which processes how we can cognitively accept the information transmitted, which goes against the whole notion of the model proposing a passive audience. Which ties to the other question.

Can there ever be a truly passive audience? In what situations could that be? How were the audiences mentally shaped to transform their thinking to be so categorically different to the standard social norms?


Bon, G. L. (1896). The Crowd, a Study of the Popular Mind

Gauntlett, D. (1998). Approach to Audiences – a Reader. London

Image References:

Japan Curiousity, retrieved February 02, 2019, from, retrieved February 02, 2019, from

WordPress, retrieved February 02, 2019, from


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