Media Logic and Media Effects

Prof. Dr. Michael Meyen
Dr. Maria Karidi
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Department of Communication Studies and Media Research

This project deals with long-term mass media effects that changed society fundamentally – effects beyond specific media content such as TV debates or commercials. Starting point is the increasing demand for public attention and legitimization: Large scale construction projects, careers of leading politicians, managers or sportsmen, student fees or research networks – no matter what, media visibility can mean the difference between success and failure.

Whereas self-representation and self-commitment occur in the public sphere, it is the media system that shapes which issues meet with public interest and gain public attention. However, how does society change, given that there is an ubiquitous media system which sets down the criteria for evaluating and deciding on social and public affairs? More precisely, a social system that operates according to its own logic prompting different actors to adapt their strategies, programs and resources to this very mass media logic (or whatever these actors think media logic is about). In so doing, public attention and public legitimization are considered to be resources that are needed in all parts of society, which, especially in the last years, have run short.

In other words, how do politics, business, culture and science change due to the fact that decision makers consider mass media to be important and adapt their strategies to their logic? Individual and collective actors might intend to secure publicity (as a record of success or as a basis of legitimization), but they also might wish to prevent negative reporting, which is assumed to compromise the implementation of strategies and objectives. Analyzing these questions requires a new focus on the phenomenon of media society as well as detailed knowledge of the rules and principles according to which mass media constructs reality.