Monday, October 1, 2012

Education + Media Usage = Knowledge of Information

             In his article “Mass Communication and Information Diffusion,” John P. Robinson states that advances in media is causing information diffusion, which gives society access to information in quicker ways than ever before.  During the time that Robinson conducted his research, he noted that interpersonal communication served as a better tool of information diffusion than the media.  Robinson stated, “the diffusion of literature is far more valuable in suggesting an approach whereby media can exploit the powers of interpersonal communication” (359).  He believed that in order for people to be well informed the media needed to implement aspects of interpersonal communication.  Nowadays, interpersonal communication does serve as a tool of information diffusion in the form of social media.  The rate of information diffusion is continuing to increase, as it is common for us to be informed of major events not only from checking the news or websites, but also from alerts or statuses we see on social media.  As we talked about in discussion section, many of us are being informed about certain events via Twitter statuses faster than we hear about it on the news.  For example, I hear about many national or international issues and events via Facebook statuses and then conduct my own research to find news articles on the topic if it is of interest to me.  
            In addition, Robinson notes that there is a strong correlation between media usage the amount of information we know and obtain.  Exposure to media and information is also directly related to level of education.  When Robinson conducted his research, he found that people with a higher level of education were more informed of important world issues and events that were taking place at the time.  His findings concluded that although we are more exposed to world events and issues by the media, education is a dominant factor in how informed we are and the motivation we have to stay informed.  Robinson stated, “…it is the best educated segments of our population who are both well informed and who keep themselves better informed by more serious usage of the mass media for informational content” (354).  There is so much information available to us on the Internet, but it is correlated to amount of media usage people expose themselves too.  People need to want to know what is going on in the world in order to stay informed. 
            Moreover, Robinson noted that due to the increase of information that is spread to society through the media, various kindergarten and first grade teachers noticed that their students were more advanced in terms of verbal skills and had more interests than students in the past.  This observation is directly related to the knowledge gap that Professor Retzinger discussed in lecture.  The example she gave was that kids who were exposed to the television program “Sesame Street” entered school with a better knowledge of numbers and letters.  People from a higher socio-economic status are more likely to have access to certain mediums such as a television or computer and are therefore more likely to be exposed to the information the media provides audiences with.  People from a higher socio-economic status are also more likely to have higher levels of education, which, as Robinson noted, could lead to them staying updated with information.  Robinson believes that many Americans are ignorant to important political and personal issues; therefore, it is in our best interest to expose ourselves to media and stay informed with important topics. 


  1. Leily, apologies for taking so long to comment on your post. You provide a neat summary of the Robinson, and a useful reminder that the greatest factor in information diffusion and the growing knowledge gap seems to be education (itself a stand-in for socioeconomic status). I'm a bit reminded of being forced to learn an instrument when I was a child. At first, it was tortuous. But as I grew more skilled at playing, I found myself wanting to learn more, to improve. In theory, education works to much the same effect (though this is an assumption on the part of researchers in this area).

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