Mass communication research includes media institutions and processes such as diffusion of information, and media effects such as persuasion or manipulation of public opinion. In the United States, for instance, several university ] departments were remodeled into schools or colleges of mass communication or “journalism and mass communication”.
Mass communications majors undertake a thorough investigation of mass media, from its institutions, history, and laws to the ways in which it transforms our culture.
In addition to studying practical skills of journalism, public relations or advertising, they offer programs on “mass communication” or “mass communication research.” The latter is often the title given to doctoral studies in such schools, whether the focus of the student’s research is journalism practice, history, law or media effects. Departmental structures within such colleges may separate research and instruction in professional or technical aspects of mass communication. With the increased role of the Internet in delivering news and information, mass communication studies and media organizations tend to focus on the convergence of publishing, broadcasting and digital communication. The academic mass communication discipline historically differs from media studies and communication studies programs with roots in departments of theatre, film or speech, and with more interest in “qualitative,” interpretive theory, critical or cultural approaches to communication study. In contrast, many mass communication programs historically lean toward empirical analysis and quantitative research—from statistical content analysis of media messages to survey research, public opinion polling, and experimental research. Interest in “New Media” and “Computer Mediated Communication” is growing much faster than educational institutions can assimilate it. So far, traditional classes and degree programs have not been able to accommodate new shifts of the paradigm in communication technologies. Although national standards for the study of interactive media have been present in the U.K. since the mid-nineties, course work in these areas tends to vary significantly from university to university. Graduates of Mass Communication programs work in a variety of fields in traditional news media and publishing, advertising, public relations and research institutes. Such programs are accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass CommunicationACEJMC.
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass CommunicationAEJMC.is the major membership organization for academics in the field, offering regional and national conferences and refereed publications. The International Communication AssociationICA.and National Communication Association (formerly the Speech Communication Association) include divisions and publications that overlap with those of AEJMC, but AEJMC historically has stronger ties to the mass communication professions in the United States.