Disjunction and Isolation:
Mass communication is structurally different from face-to-face communication. It involves a disjunction of place, and often also of time, between communicator and audience. Media are based on technology, and it is technology which prescribes their location. That location is separated from the audience which, with satellite links, may now be half a world away.
The facturing of location in mass communication is not a single break but multiple. Audience members are separated not just from the communicator but from each other. They can no more communicate among themselves than they can reach back to the media sender. This contrasts with other, non-mass communication situations, where the audience is always physically in contact.
“Even at huge events such as a rock concert the audience is together. A concert before 50,000 people has a far bigger audience than many mass media, such as local newspapers or radio stations. But these events are therefore more ‘mass’ than media. The crowd at the concert can do two things which the media audience cannot do: such as influencing the musicians performance in real time, changing what happens on stage. And they can influence each other to act as a group.”
The members of the mass audience, however, remain isolated from the communicator and each other.
As well as the disjunction of place, there is often a disjunction of time between communicator and audience. Even in programmes presented live, such as the news, the majority of content will be prerecorded. The time disjunction militates against audience response, just as does place disjunction. The audience cannot affect the shape of what they receive prerecorded from the media. They can only make an all-or-nothing objection that something has been transmitted at all..
The fracture in the communication process has significant consequences for language production. Speaking rights belong to the mass communicator alone. One-way communication is not an unusual feature of public gatherings, rather in mass communication distance and time dictate it. The feedback, which is an integral factor in individual spoken communication, is delayed, impoverished or lacking altogether in mass communication.
‘Audiences are deprived of the usual access to recipients reactions.’
Mass communicators have only the haziest concept of what kind of people make up their audience. Isolation from the audience is a characteristic of mass communicators. Ironically, the more ‘mass’ the medium, the greater the isolation, so that (radio) broadcaster speaks of ‘the degree of self-absorption, amounting almost to autism, which is one of the most pronounced traits of television’ (McIntyre, 1988). This is promoted by physical and social isolation from those who are not fellow professionals.
‘The technology and operational systems are centralized, and newsworkers are largely the servants of the technology and logistics of their trade. The authors – journalist – go out more, but much of their voluntary socializing is with other journalists.’
It is sometimes said that communicators are attuning production based on figures and traditional ‘archetype’ of work / employment specifications of not just broadcaster, also the persona of other individuals at that integral. In cases such as these, the link between media producers and consumers – professionalism and mass communicators may draw a blank with the audience[x], as their subject; despite evidence to the contary – becomes introverted to themselves or peers and dislocated from the public. Noting that fellow communicators and co-professionals are salient audience[x] sometime jacobean in their approach – addressing / embedding a completely new set of roles into each play / focus within a itself..
‘..to this end mass communication and defining characteristics / distinction between addressees and the rest of the audience, is clearest in advertising..’