Model is a miniature, a highly selective representation of reality- a symbolic representation of reality and a design to help us visualize among various elements of a structure or process in this case the communication process. We take a look at Bruce Westley and Malcolm s. MacLean communication model as proposed in 1957. Their model is less personalized and tries to give a description of mass communication in a context that seems to clearly have an interest in responses that are given by either side: whether it’s the media, the events or the original communicator.
THE MODEL According to Westley and Maclean model, media provides their audience with the supply of information, images, stories and impression sometimes according to anticipated needs some guided by their own purpose which is mainly gaining revenue and influence and sometimes following of other social institutions e. g. advertising, making propaganda. Given the diversity of the underlying motivations in selection and flow of “images of reality”, we can see that mediation is unlikely to be a neutral process. There will always be consistent biases in selection and construction of “realities”.
Their model represents the communicator’s role as that of a broker between, on one hand would be ‘advocates in society with messages to send and on the other hand, the public seeking to satisfy its information and other communication needs. Here there is the communication organization (McQuail D. pg 323) where there are brokers between would-be advocates trying to convey their view of social reality and public interested in reliable information. Westley and MacLean gave specific attention to mass communication as distinct from general communication model.
They presented a model of interpersonal communication and mass communication. Figure 1 X X3 X2AB X1 fBA Westley-Maclean model (face to face interpersonal communication),figure 1 In the interpersonal communication model, the source (A) focuses on objects of orientation or on specific stimulus (X) in his environment, and designs a message (X1, X2.. ) which he sends to the receiver (B). The receiver immediately returns a feedback (fBA) to the source(A). Figure 2 X X1 fBC X2 ACB X3fCA fBA The Westley- Maclean model ( for mass communication)
Here in the mass mediated communication there is an intervening element, the gatekeeper (C ), who after receiving the message (X1, X2,…) from the source (A)or personally focusing on some stimuli (X) in the environment, forms his own message (X1). And finally transmits it to the receiver (B). in effect the gate keeping act constitutes a filtering process, such that the message that gets to the receiver may not be exactly as originated by bthe source. Further more, the feedback in mass communication may flow in three directions: i. From the receiver (B) to gatekeeper (C): feedback fBC i. From the receiver (B) to source (A); to source; feedback fBA iii. From the receiver (C ) to source (A); feedback fCA It is important to note that the gatekeepers also can also look for the information by themselves. The source (A) or receiver (B) may be an individual, a group or a system. The message may be oral or visual, spoken or written, graphic or gestural The model is comprehensively illustrated below: Figure 2(a) Unmediated contact with sources in society Content flow and audience response REALITYSOCIETY Communication and interaction
Direct personal experience of reality This chart by Westley and Maclean represent the fact that experience is neither completely nor always mediated by mass media. There are direct channels of contact with social institutions (political parties, churches, institutions etc. ) There is also some possibility of direct personal experience of some of the more distant events reported in media (crime, poverty, illness, war and conflict). Potential contact with diverse sources of information (friends, internet), provide checks on adequacy and reliability on quasi- mediated interactions.
The Westley and MacLean’s as noticed, recognizes (1) events and voices in society, (2) channel/communicator role, (3) messages, (4) receiver. It takes to account the fact that the mass communicator does not usually originate messages/communication. They relay to potential audience their own news they give access to views and voices (advocates, advertisers) of those who want to reach wider audience. Features of the model i. Emphasis on selecting role of mass communicators ii. Selection is undertake according to an assessment on what audience will find interesting iii.
Communication is not purposive- do not aim to persuade, educate or even inform. The model is strongly shaped by feedback, from audience both to media and to advocates and original communicator. This model however is innocent of the idea that free market might not necessarily reflect interest of audience and would not accurately fit a state run media system. This model however cannot account for multi dimensions hence cannot be applicable for typical communication events that involve broader context and wide range of communication messages. CONCLUSION
Westley and Maclean model recognizes mass communication as a self regulating process that is guided by interest and demands of an audience that is known only by its selections and responses to what is offered. The model unlike others is not linear since it not shaped by the feedback from the audience alone. This view of mass media has seen them as relatively open and neutral service organization in a secular society, contributing to work of other social institutions. REFERENCE McQuail D Mass Communication Theory 6th edition, 2011 Lynn G. and Mclean D. , Media and Society Into The 21st Century, 2nd edition. 2011