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National Press Corps Director: Sam Zeidman - Institute for Domestic ...

National Press Corps Director: Sam Zeidman - Institute for Domestic ...

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 9 products and practices will be adopted by members of a given culture. 23 Furthermore, this focus paved the way for the theory to predict that the media, as well as interpersonal connections, such as opinion leaders, provide information and influence the judgment and opinions of the public. 24 In order for such a prediction to be accurate, the model was able to demonstrate how information can flow through intermediaries such as gatekeepers, opinion leaders, and change agents, as well as through networks such as mass media groups. 25 This prediction was accomplished through the explanation of some of the variables that have a significant impact on the opinions of the general public. For instance, Everett Rogers, who was one of the pioneers in this field of study, developed five characteristics that are present in the diffusion of innovations into the general audience. The five characteristics contained the following types of people that had the most influence; innovators, early adaptors, the early majority, the late majority and the laggards. 26 Like the product life cycle in business, this model explained when people would become interested in a new development. These characteristics play an important role in how the media goes about trying to influence its audience because at each point of this process, the media can use its intermediaries such as the opinion leaders and gatekeepers to sway opinions and judgments. For example, the use of these two types of people is heavily put into practice in the second part of the process, during the early adopter stage to influence the decision making thought processes of people. 27 Below is the conceptual model of how this multistep flow works through the system of the media and its audience. 28 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 www.hkbu.edu.hk/~ringoma/lectures/2310ch11&12.ppt 26 “Diffusion of Innovation Theory”, < http://www.ciadvertising.org/studies/student/98_fall/theory/hornor/paper1.html> , Date Accessed: 11 December 2004 27 ”Diffusion of Innovation Theory”, http://www.tcw.utwente.nl/theorieenoverzicht/Theory%20clusters/Communication%20and%20Information%20Tec hnology/Diffusion_of_Innovations_Theory.doc/index.html>, Date Accessed: 11 December 2004 28 Ibid.

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 10 Figure 3: Multi-Step Flow Model Although seemingly complicated, the process is quite simple. The above graph demonstrates, from beginning to end, how the information will diffuse from the receiver and the social system variables to the end result or consequence. For the most part, this process is how mass media operates today. Theory of Media Dependence One of the most prominent theories that describes the media and its role with the audience is that of media dependence. First proposed by Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Melvin DeFleur in 1976, this theory integrates several perspectives from psychology to social principles. It also proposed an integral relationship between audiences, the media, and the larger social system. The Media Dependence Theory predicts that the audience will depend on media information to achieve certain needs and goals, such as gratification, however, the dependence on all types of media are not equal. 29 29 “Dependence Theory”, http://www.tcw.utwente.nl/theorieenoverzicht/Theory%20clusters/Mass%20Media/Dependency%20Theory.doc/>, Date Accessed: 12 December 2004

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