Historical Methods in Mass Communication

Historical Methods in Mass Communication

Historical Methods in Mass Communication

Historical Methods in Mass Communication

Excerpt

An interest in history permeates Western civilization. The past find its way occasionally into the thoughts of most people; it fascinates others. For some, the study of history becomes a life's work. Of those, some are drawn especially to communication history. They have selected for study a subject that has played an integral part in mankind's and in this nation's past. For almost two centuries American historians have been studying communication; and all signs indicate that, rather than declining, the interest in communication history is on the rise. That interest raises the question of why study history, and, more specifically, communication history.

Besides the simple enjoyment they derive from studying history, historians, and students as well, give various answers. Coming from professional backgrounds in such areas as journalism and advertising, some want to learn from the past so that they may be better practitioners in their professions. Oriented primarily toward the present rather than the past, some examine the past to help them find the roots of present practices. Others pragmatically believe they can learn mistakes of the past so that they can avoid repeating the errors, while others think they can use the past to help prepare for the future.

All these views may have some validity -- some, more than others -- but the serious historian finds that the study of history is valuable primarily in other ways. First, it helps us to understand the past. Although historians may first approach the past for some other reason, with continued study they find that it has intrinsic value in itself. They wish to study the past for its own sake. Second . . .

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