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The Rise and Fall of Mass Communication

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William L. Benoit and Andrew C. Billings

Mass communication theories were largely built when we had mass media audiences. The number of television, print, film or other forms of media audiences were largely finite, concentrating people on many of the same core content offerings, whether that be the nightly news or a popular television show. What happens when those audiences splinter? The Rise and Fall of Mass Communication surveys the aftermath of exactly that, noting that very few modern media products have audiences above 1–2% of the population at any one time. Advancing a new media balkanization theory, Benoit and Billings neither lament nor embrace the new media landscape, opting instead to pinpoint how we must consider mass communication theories and applications in an era of ubiquitous choice.

William L. Benoit (Ph.D., Wayne State University, 1979) is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He created and applied image repair theory and the functional theory of political communication. He has published over 15 books; his H-index is 63.

Andrew C. Billings (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1999) is the Ronald Reagan Chair of Broadcasting in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama. He has published over 200 journal articles and book chapters along with 20 book projects, the majority of which pertain to issues of media content and effects.