A s previous chapters have explained, beginning just before World War II, two general principles emerged from early research on mass communication. The first was that audiences were selective because of a diversity of interests and tastes based on their
social and cultural identities, and because of that diversity not all members attended equally. That idea was embodied in the Selective and Limited Influences Theory (developed retrospectively in formal terms in Chapter 10). That theory had made clear that the audience was not passive, with all members uniformly attending to whatever content the media happened to present. The assumption of a passive audience had been central to the defunct Magic Bullet Theory, which had been shown to be inconsistent with the facts. The second general principle was based on the realization that members of media audiences actively select that content to which they want to be exposed. For that reason, it became essential to understand why people sought out particular types of news stories, magazine articles, books, radio programs, and films to which they wished to attend, while ignoring other available content.