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Introduction to Mass Communication

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Message in Mass Communication – Misgivings, Conflicts, Ethics and Solutions
Message is the most sensitive area in communication. Send a message and all the confusion,
conflict and misgivings are borne thereafter. The inherent problem with message is that it can’t be
understood with hundred per cent purity and the sender is never in a position to ascertain at the time of
letting the message go across as what it may result into when interpreted by the receiver.
No other type of communication suffers this intrinsic property of a message more than the mass
communication. Same set of words bring so different a meanings to different receivers that a conflict get on
deepening instead of moving towards solution.
For example, Pakistan says it wants a peaceful solution of Kashmir. Exactly same set of words is said by
India. The United Nations in a number of resolutions on Kashmir has used the same words. The US and all
other western powers, and even the people of the valley say the same. Question arises: then why Kashmir is
bleeding? Answer is simple; for every people meanings in the same set of words are different!


Treading in such a sensitive area of mass communication by composing an effective message is
bound to cause doubts in the mind of receiver. A message at the mass communication level is never
understood from the face value of the words, does not matter how smartly they are chosen, and so
misgivings are very likely to arise.
Such a situation also occurs when one is going through a newspaper story, a book of history or watches a
play on TV. The contents of a TV play may carry lines which may infuriate some and cause laughter for
A cartoon in a newspaper, a blend of verbal and non verbal communication may bring smiles on the faces
of political workers of one party and outrage others belonging to another.


The most difficult situation in composing a message for mass communication arises when the
subject matter is already caught in a conflict. As has been cited in the Kashmir example above, even the
softest and most carefully picked words by one party in the conflict may not appease the people living on
other side of the conflict.
At times – in given context, an observation in its most objective form causes a conflict. For instance a
Pakistani bowler is not performing well; an observation on his performance by an Indian commentator
would generate a heated debate among their Pakistani counterparts or vice versa. Things may be different if
the same observation is passed by a Pakistani commentator, obviously.
The world of mass communication abounds in surfacing conflicts across political, economic and social lines
in almost all societies.

Negative Message – Propaganda

Here a deliberate effort is seen on part of sender to distort facts and outlook of a situation to
further aggravate meanings (understanding) on a given subject and reap the benefit (resultant) by damaging
the enemy. The composing of message as branded in the term propaganda is centuries old and widely used
in wars and severe political discords.

Message as a Commercial Product

At times the sender attempts to use a message at mass communication scale to garner commercial
benefit. This approach has led to setting up of an entirely different industry in mass communication, known
as advertising industry. We will see in coming lectures more as how a message is molded in a manner to
fetch commercial gain. It again starts a controversy whether a message with commercial value tells the truth
or discards it.
But it is not that conflict is a natural result of a message, though messages are generally under-understood.
There are ways to overcome such a situation.


Since the gravity of misunderstood messages in communication is enormous, experts continue to
work on lines to diffuse the negativity in this part of communication.

Use of Standard Language

One foremost practice all over the world is to use to a maximum possible extent of a standard
language. There is nothing like a standard language, but in practice one believes that use of polite and
decent words command more acceptability than harsh or intimidating words especially on matters of
Best example of this phenomenon is witnessed when foreign offices of different countries issue
representative statements on behalf of their respective governments especially on issues of disagreements.
Though the meaning still differ for different end-users of these statements, they generally remain safe to
avoid escalation of a problem.

Brevity of Message

In case of severe conflicts, issuing a brief and calculated statement offers another solution to avoid
the controversies to get to a point of no return. Fewer words are bound to cause fewer infringements and a
situation is saved from spilling over and generating more confusion or tension.


The world is multicultural. This composition of the world is most embarrassing for students of
mass communication for it is next to impossible to address all the people belonging to different cultures
which give one meaning to the words said.
Screening a TV play written and produced in one part of the world (culture) may hurt viewers of another
part of the world where cultural values are different. But within one society the same problem may not exist
with same intensity. It is advisable to take care of ethics while composing a message – which may be writing
a script for a play, or even news. Religious and social values are very dear to people. A message would do a
great deal of justice if it abides by these values.

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