The communist theory of mass media came into being along with the concept of communism. George W. F. Hegel and later, Karl Marx with Engels were the people who thought of the theory in the 19th century. Mass media in the view of Karl Marx was supposed to be responsible for socialist system of governance and communist media was supposed to help in implementing social policies.
The communist and Marxist government rule and communist theory of mass communication was practically used by the then Soviet Union (Russia) in 1917. Thus, the theory is also known as Soviet Theory of Mass Communication.
The government controlled all the media according to this theory and had absolute power. The theory was implemented to help in achieving the communist objectives for the benefits of the people.
Concepts of Communist Theory of Mass Communication
Media is taken as a part of the state in Communist Theory. The ownership of media is with the state and the country runs the media as per their wishes to fulfill their propaganda of control. The communist party owns all the media of the country.
Media is supposed to work for the betterment of the state, communism and whatever the elite of the communist party tells them to do. Deterring the growth of communism is taken as a crime.
Criticism of small parts of the government work is accepted but criticizing the state as a whole is prohibited in communist theory of mass media. Citizens are taken to be irrational and stupid and masses are kept away from the government.
They are just provided with propaganda and basic knowledge. Government activities are not to be known to general public. Whatever rulers said becomes the ruling idea.
The difference between Authoritarian theory and the communist theory is that in authoritarian, there is private ownership of media but in soviet communist theory, the control lies in very small number of leaders in soviet communist theory. Government is taken as the most superior, powerful and important than all including media.
In Soviet Union, media was used to educate the workers to their develop skills and tried to show the problems of the working class to the leaders by taking feedbacks from the citizens.
New technologies of mass media were controlled to control the mass. The theory took other theories of mass media as having bourgeois features where they followed Marxist, Leninist and Stalinist ideologies.
Features of Communist Theory of Mass Communication
- Media followed communist ideology of governance and political system
- Media was used to transmit propaganda and for transmission of social policies
- Media was taken as government instrument
- Media was owned by the state
- Criticism of communist ideology was taken as a crime
- It helped the working class to work better and highlighting their problems and it made people aware about communism
- The theory was a positive one as it tried to ensure truthful information and not let the information get manipulated by private media houses
- Feedback was accepted
Example of Communist Theory of Mass Communication
The then Soviet Union controlled the media totally by publishing all the good things about their country and governance while not showing anything that could make the people feel agitated about their own nation. They promoted their own culture and traditions as the best. They also did not give out news about disasters and accidents.
On the other hand, they showed every bad aspect of culture and social systems of other democratic countries like US. They also told their government system was better than democracy. That is how propaganda was bestowed upon all. These techniques were solely based on their communist ideologies representing the Communist Theory in full.
Criticisms of Communist Theory of Mass Communication
- Propaganda based information is only delivered. The information might be false.
- No media can criticize the government and the government will not get the chance to improve.
- Authoritative obstruction can be found for every type of media.
- There can be many restrictions and there is a concept of punishment.
- Leader is taken as the greatest and citizens are not given importance.
- The media can not play the role of the watchdog.
- The development of the nation depends on the characteristics of the leader.