Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Mass Communication


This paper revisits the concept of mass communication, which has faced persistent challenges to its continued relevance in light of changes that have taken place in the media environment. This paper offers a counterpoint to claims of the term’s diminished relevance, as well as to some recent efforts to reposition the term, by putting forth an interpretive approach that is not exclusive to the “institutional communicator” and that allows the term “mass” to extend to both the senders and receivers of messages. This paper argues that this interpretive approach is in keeping with some early interpretations of the concept’s meaning, and that such an interpretation is viable in light of the definitional ambiguity that has always surrounded the term. This paper then considers how the notion of the “work” of the audience is reconfigured in this new mass communication environment. As this paper illustrates, the claim of the audience engaging in ‘watching as working’ merits extension in an environment of interactive media and user-generated content.