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Dissecting Print Media Institutions Using

Communication Theories
De La Salle University - Manila

In this paper, we explore print media insitutions from various points of

view using different communication theories. The purpose of this paper
is for compliance in our theories of communication subject.

P rint media is considered as power-

ful as visual and radio media. Despite
having the World Wide Web, educational
who are economically-challenged. We
may take them for granted, but our basic
knowledge came from textbooks.
institutions still consider books and jour-
nals as the best source of secondary infor-
mation. NOTE: We definitely have to admit that
Books and journals ensure credibil- Theoryc was a fun subject. From moral
ity above everything. Published works panics to the public sphere, it seemed
from scholastic printing presses ensure that every step was always like learning
the reader that the information is veri- something new. Thanks for everything Sir
fied and its authors are true scholars and Jace.
experts. Readers still need to filter the
information they get from the Internet
because the sources may not be credible.
The so-called experts being interviewed
in TV may not be real experts. Availing
print materials is cheaper.
Radio and visual media would need me-
diums like television and radio to access
information. People would need electric-
ity and broadband connection. Paying
these is more expensive in the long run.
Paying for volumes of encyclopedias is
also expensive, but you don’t need to
spend again.
The publishing house is a print media
institution that satisfies the audience’s
thirst for knowledge. Publishing houses
and printing presses take pride in mass
producing print media to educate people
1 Theoryc

Media Text Theories: Semiotics

Semiotics is the study of signs. We take Publishing houses and printing presses
these signs for granted that we fail to see having constructive powers (privilege to
their importance. Corporate Signatures encode reality in a certain sense) is a
convey the values and traits of the orga- scary thought. What you see is not really
nization. It conveys the company’s iden- what you get in all forms of media. Imag-
tity to the audience. ine the capability of these print media
Signs are abundant in print media organizations to propagate misinforma-
because they deliver knowledge through tion (selective publishing).
negotiated use of diagrams and formats.
For example, textbooks have parts em-
phasized by asterisks. The asterisk is an “Discussions about the signifier-sig-
indication. It signals the readers to take nified relationship is so overrated that
note of the publisher’s clarification on a the sign-sign relation ship better known
word or topic. It denotes an explanation as the horizontal relational system is
about the political correctness of the neglected (Singer 1984).”
term or topic, cultural reference, or an
acknowledgement of a source.
Some Taiwanese textbooks say that Textbooks depict signifier-signified
Taiwan is a separate independent state relationships by showing an illustration
from China. Some say Taiwan is a part of (signifier) and a concept (signified). It is
mainland China. Publishing houses show rare to see an illustration (signifier) being
their political leaning (preferred relation- related to another illustration (signifier).
ship between the signifier and signified) We can infer that print media institu-
by choosing which type of information to tions prefer absolute relational systems
publish. Political leaning is the preferred when they choose the signifier-signified
relationship between the signifier (Tai- model as the predominant paradigm in
wanese publishing houses) and the signi- producing educational print media. Aside
fied (Taiwan). from the signifier-signified model, semiot-
ics also has the sign-sign relational model
also known as syntactics.
Educational print media deals with
“Our preferential reality whether semiotics that “tries to elicit a certain
what types of information to publish behavior through the learning process”.
are actually coded experiences which Textbooks are supposed to provide read-
have been structured so that we may ers basic knowledge. Therefore, the type
share the same experience (Thayer of semiotics involved in textbooks is not
1982).” just a typical semiotic approach but ab-
sorbed semiotics.
2 Theoryc

Learning through print media involves

absorption. This means that the readers
take in what they can from the educa-
tional material, which is full of signs and
meanings. These coded experiences can
have varying effects to the reader: The
readers react (interpretant) to the mate-
rial by completely agreeing to the coded
experience. They can make a new mean-
ing for the sign or completely oppose the

“It is worth clarifying that the inter-

pretant is not necessarily a person but
the initial reaction of the person cor-
responding to an inferred neural code
(Sebeok 1976).”

The interplay between preferential

signification (chosen link between the
signifier and signified) with graphics de-
sign should be a primary consideration for
future studies. Media institutions special-
izing in print media should be furnished
with better check and balance systems.
Extensive studies on preferential signi-
fication of publishing houses will ensure
that print media institutions will not
overstep their bounce of dominion within
the circle of media jurisdiction.
This also applies to other types of me-
dia institutions. Media-regulating bodies
should conduct more studies about the
privilege of media institutions to encode
experiences. Through the studies, they
can formulate an effective guideline to
manage the extent of media’s depiction
of reality through selection and encoding.
3 Theoryc

Media Institution Theories: Political Economy

Classical political economy is disturb- they gain more love from the audience.
ing. According to this theory, media in- In the Philippine setting, the elites like
stitutions should be privately owned and the Lopezes and the Gozons own the ma-
unregulated by the government. They jor media institutions. They reap millions
shouldn’t interfere in any matter con- of pesos, so it follows that these execu-
cerning the privately owned business. tives are profit-oriented. Following this
It means operating a printing press with- assumption and applying it in the printing
out government intervention. It is threat- press, they may not pay much attention
ening to think that no one has the power to the quality of the articles being pub-
to regulate what the printing press is lished. They would concentrate more
publishing. Media is very influential. It is on selling magazines and making profit.
assumed that people consider any infor- This is even more dangerous because the
mation from the media as the truth. Most elite would not even enforce restrictions
of the time, lies become true and books as long as the books sell. Without the
are no exception. government and the elite to change what
The elite own the influence over these is written or published, it is very easy
mediums. The elite can manipulate the to disseminate false information to the
public. They can choose to publish false public. In this sense, the media abuses
data and use it to their advantage. It is freedom of expression.
even more alarming than the manipula- The ownership of media is concen-
tion per se because we can’t prosecute trated. This means that under one com-
the elite. This is possible because the pany, there are various forms of media.
elite have power over the government. It could belong to one company, but the
They can bribe their way out of their mis- materials will have different names,
deeds and gain more influence. formats, layout, titles, and content. The
It is also possible that the elite make variety of published works caters to dif-
use of their social status to promote the ferent demands of different people at
books they publish. For example, celeb- different times and places. It becomes
rities and politicians release autobiogra- beneficial to the publishing house because
phies that they didn’t write. They claim they can influence more people compared
the books as their own, but they hire to having just one book under the printing
ghost writers to do the book for them. press.
They can choose to disclose events in The power of advertising can provoke
their lives that would enhance their im- impulse buying from the audience and
age. Negative things that they say about provide profit to advertising companies. It
themselves are intended to seek sympa- is possible for advertisers to convince the
thy from the audience. elite to include ads in the books to earn
This strategy aims to show the audi- more money. The elite may not care too
ence that celebrities and politicians are much about the ads. They would concen-
also human. They become richer and trate more on the profit they will make
4 Theoryc

The readers are treated as passive au- we will be paying a little extra for the op-
diences and are easily manipulated. erating expenses and intellectual patents
Although there is a “…clear boundary the textbooks have.
between state and society “ (Habermas Unlike in small-time print media insti-
1996), the state should impose quality tutions, we only have to pay for the ser-
regulation to publishing houses as the vice because the operating cost of these
most hands-off way in dealing with print publishing houses is nearly non-existent.
media institutions. Print media’s disper- They don’t require too much machinery
sion over a period of time will inadver- and manpower to produce educational
tently overshadow the pace of other print media which means they will sell it
forms of media. at a reasonable price. What’s problem-
The previously mundane forms of atic about this is that we will never have
media will then rise into power and try a chance to realize that we are being
to dominate the media spectrum in the manipulated by experts since we leave it
same way that other forms of media have to them. We accept that they know bet-
attempted. The authors can only specu- ter than we do. Print media institutions
late on the condition of the media during are really not as we see them.
the rise of political economy. The concentration of media ownership
Print media is not as powerful as visual may offer us only a certain angle to look
and radio media. In the visual era, where at print media institutions. A lot of mul-
people prefer instant solutions, print tinational media institutions don’t engage
media’s grasp of the audience is weaker in only one type of media. But they also
than the other forms of media. It seems dominate other forms of media. A pub-
political economy has lost its footing to lishing house can run several other forms
yield to the bureaucratic powers of regu- of media.
latory agencies. They are self-sufficient because they
However, the only trace political econ- can handle their products’ production,
omy left is the private ownership of print distribution, and publicity. In Abiva pub-
media institutions. This is neo-political lishing house, they don’t only have the
economy, a “mutated” form of political means of production.
economy. The original political economy They also have a pool of writers who
also provides avenues of exploitation they can enlist to produce new textbooks
where large print media institutions will according to the demand of the market.
drive out small-time circulating print me- Production, distribution and authoring
dia of other institutions. are existing concentrations of media
Despite the purpose of education, ownership we can find in Abiva publishing
these smaller but equally significant print house.
media producers lose their power in favor
of large hegemonic print media institu-
tions. For example, Abiva publishing
house is considered a big-time publishing
house. It has the power to displace previ-
ous publishing contractors from a con-
tract with educational institutions. Abiva
may not sell its textbooks expensively but
5 Theoryc


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how media institutions maintain their
influence and profit. Educational print
media may be hiding their true intention
under good books and claim of audience
The regulatory power should not only
rest upon the government but in the
people as well. You can’t expect the
media to point out every lie or blunder.
You should have the initiative to find the
oppressive and manipulative intentions of
media institutions. You decide.