Media communications is a fast-paced and dynamic field of study. It is a blend of diverse theory and applied content. When it comes to mass communication, you need to draw from a large pool of knowledge for effective messaging. As simple as it may seem on the surface, the design and content are more complex. Moreover, in a day and age that sees increasing information production and user-generated content, the need to process this content is also rising. As a media student, your primary role is to understand how any medium functions and the context in which it functions.
To be able to do that, you need to go back to the roots of media in terms of origin, evolution, functions and future. A lot of books cover these topics so, to get you started, here are the top 4 books that will construct the fundamentals of your media profession.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Reading a book based on biology, anthropology and other sciences may seem an odd choice. But, here’s the thing: to understand how and why humans produce and consume media, you need to know their evolutionary and sociological background. While critics suggest that these may be broad theories, it provides enough context to global political, social and economic systems. You will be reporting news or advertising a brand against such backgrounds. Knowledge of these sciences will make the messaging more effective.
Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky is a well-known political commentator and propounder of the “Five Filters of Media” also known as the propaganda model. This book takes a look at who controls the medium and the message. From an American perspective, this book is a critical take on media control and power. It suggests that the owner of a medium is the one who controls the message as well. It is an effective means of generating propaganda. Thus, the powerful can design and influence public opinion. This book helps one to understand the “system” and find the means of navigating it. Manufacturing Consent is an eye-opening insight into the media world.
Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Advertising Industry and Why This Matters by Ken Auletta
This account of how the advertising business has evolved, changed and seen technological disruptions are insightful and prepares anyone who wants to join the industry. Advertising has travelled through the “Mad Men” era to the digital age of social media. Today, the industry is only growing in importance with marketing dollars increasing every year. This book explains the relationship between an advertising agency and the client. With real-life stories and explanations behind these events, this book is a must-read for advertisers.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A dystopian fiction novel set in a society where books are banned and the state owns media is a classic commentary on authoritarianism, freedom of speech, censorship and the threats of technology. It is a doomsday scenario of when a society forgets the importance of book and academics become criminals. With absolute control over the message, the government can control its population, which cannot think for itself. A running theme of knowledge versus ignorance addresses many challenges our society faces today. Despite the fictional narrative, this book has a powerful message for media practitioners.
Tick off your reading list with these books. The study and practice of media are constantly changing around the world. Take a lesson or two from these books and keep up with the dynamism. The future is here, go ahead and be a part of it.
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