Media Making: Mass Media in a Popular Culture

Article excerpt

Media Making: Mass Media in a Popular Culture. Lawrence Grossberg, Ellen Wartella, and D. Charles Whitney. Thousand Oaks, CA, and London: Sage Publications, 1998. 442 pp. $68.50 hbk. $35 pbk.

This long-awaited textbook from three leading author/researchers is likely tobe widely welcomed and used. It is an up-to-date, authoritative and fresh attempt to map out the mainstream field of mass media and communications in an accessible and intelligent form. Its innovative character stems largely from a structure that seeks to integrate three main theoretical perspectives and sets of concerns within a common framework. In general it succeeds in this aim, partly perhaps because the three authors share experiences of time and place in their own professional development. The three perspectives can be summarily described as having to do with the cultural, social, and political-economic links between media and society.

However, the contents of the book are organized somewhat differently, without clear lines separating the perspectives mentioned. Of the four main parts, the first deals with the social context in which media themselves and the study of media have developed, moving on to the organizational setting of media production and the influence of market forces in shaping media industries. Part 2 is entitled "making sense of the media" and is largely devoted to alternative theories of how meanings are embedded in media texts and how these are to be "read" or interpreted. Part 3 deals with the "power" of the media, understood in different ways: as producing identities; attracting audiences and serving their needs; influencing behavior, attitudes, and opinion. Finally, the media are, as it were, recontextualized under the heading "Media and Public Life," in a series of chapters that deal especially with news, politics, and ideas of the "public." The book concludes by dealing with "normative theories of the media" and "globalization" respectively. …