Magic Multiplier Theory

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The term “magic multiplier” itself might not be a standard term, but it appears to emphasize the significant and sometimes seemingly disproportionate effects that certain actions or inputs can have on various processes, systems, or outcomes. It’s essential to recognize that real-world scenarios are complex and subject to various factors, so the actual effects of multipliers may not always be straightforward or linear. In the context of development communication, mass media is considered a magic multiplier as it can have a significant impact on information dissemination.

Magic Multiplier Theory in Development Communication

Meaning of Magic Multiplier or Multiplier Effect

In economics, a multiplier refers to the phenomenon where a change in one economic variable results in a more significant change in another related variable. The multiplier effect is often associated with government spending, investment, or consumption, and it measures the overall impact of a change in these variables on the economy as a whole.

For example, suppose the government increases its spending on infrastructure projects. This increase in government spending will lead to more construction jobs and increased income for workers. With higher income, these workers may increase their consumption of goods and services. As a result, businesses experience higher demand and revenue, leading to more jobs and income for others, and the cycle continues. The initial increase in government spending “multiplies” throughout the economy, resulting in a larger overall economic impact.

The multiplier effect is typically quantified using multipliers that represent how much a change in one variable affects the overall economy. The concept is often used in macroeconomic models to predict the outcomes of various policy changes or economic shocks.

Mass Media as a Magic Multiplier

Mass media has a powerful influence on amplifying messages and ideas across a large audience. It includes various forms of communication such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the internet that play a crucial role in shaping public opinion, disseminating information, and impacting society in numerous ways. Here are some ways in which mass media acts as a magic multiplier:

Amplification of Messages

Mass media has the ability to take a message or idea and broadcast it to a vast audience, reaching people across different geographical locations and demographics simultaneously. This amplification can significantly increase the impact of a particular message or story.

Influence on Public Opinion

Mass media has the power to shape public opinion by presenting information in a certain way, emphasizing specific viewpoints, or highlighting particular issues. Through repeated exposure to certain narratives, people may be influenced to adopt or support certain beliefs, values, or ideologies.


Mass media plays a role in setting the public agenda by determining which topics and issues receive more attention and coverage. By selecting what stories to present and how to frame them, media outlets can influence which issues are perceived as most important by the public.

Read about the Agenda-Setting Theory.

Socialization and Cultural Transmission

Mass media contributes to the socialization process by exposing individuals to a wide range of cultural norms, values, and behaviors. It can shape the way people perceive the world and their roles within it.

Spreading Information Rapidly

Mass media enables the rapid dissemination of news and information. This speed is particularly crucial during times of crisis or emergencies when timely communication can be a matter of life and death.

Entertainment and Escapism

Mass media provides entertainment and a means of escape from daily life. This aspect contributes to its popularity and the vast audiences it attracts, making it an even more influential platform for transmitting messages.

However, while mass media can be a powerful tool for development communication and information sharing, it also comes with ethical responsibilities. Media outlets must maintain accuracy, impartiality, and fairness in their reporting to avoid misinformation and manipulation of public opinion. It is essential for individuals to be critical consumers of media, seeking diverse sources of information and being aware of potential biases or agendas.

Explore the strengths and weaknesses of the Media Dependency Theory.

Magic Multiplier Approach in Development Communication

The Magic Multiplier approach is one of the important approaches in development communication alongside the Diffusion of Innovation and Localised Approach. Due to its quality of amplifying messages significantly, mass media is considered a magic multiplier.

In his book entitled “Mass Media and National Development: The Role of Information in the Developing Countries,” published in 1964, Wilbur Schramm mentioned that an individual would require information on the work the author would undertake. There are several people in need of the information. Conventional channels of communication are not sufficient to address this demand. This is why, modern communication technologies introduced in the latter half of the 20th century would come in handy to meet this demand. These technologies could multiply the messages and reach out to each and every person in need of the information simultaneously.

Check out the differences between traditional media and new media.

Need of Magic Multiplier in Development Communication

In the context of development communication, Schramm argues that a social change of a great magnitude can happen only if people are informed, educated, motivated, and persuaded. The information must flow from the source to people and from them to others in order to figure out what they need. People must participate in the decision-making and implementation stages of national development.

The required amount of information and learning are very vast as well as the targeted population. The conventional channels of communication that include interpersonal communication, group communication, and traditional media are not able to reach out the majority of the population. The process of information dissemination requires an ample amount of time and resources. In a developing nation, it is difficult for policymakers to gather different resources and wait for a long period for the change to take place. Mass media resolves this issue with its power to amplify or multiply messages in less time, using fewer resources.

Drawbacks of the Magic Multiplier Approach

The audit undertaken by Schramm shows that mass media successfully reached out to a vast majority of the population. However, it failed to become a magic multiplier in the process. It did raise awareness but it could not give anticipated results in persuading and sensitising the targeted population. Schramm finds that the objective can be best achieved by using conventional means of communication such as interpersonal, group communication, and others.

Role of Mass Media in Development Communication

The role of mass media in development communication is crucial for promoting socio-economic progress, raising awareness about development issues, and empowering individuals and communities to participate in the development process. Development communication is the use of communication tools and strategies to bring about positive social change and development outcomes.

Mass media, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the internet, plays a significant role in this process. Here are some key aspects of the role of mass media in development communication:

Information Dissemination

Mass media serves as a primary source of information, providing updates on government policies, development projects, health and education initiatives, and other relevant topics. By disseminating accurate and timely information, mass media helps individuals make informed decisions and take part in development efforts.

Awareness and Education

Mass media raises awareness about various social issues, such as poverty, health, education, and environmental challenges. Through informative programs, documentaries, and news reports, the media can educate the public on these issues and potential solutions.

Advocacy and Social Mobilization

Mass media can advocate for positive social change by highlighting the needs of marginalized communities and promoting public discourse on critical development issues. It can mobilize public support for development initiatives, encouraging collective action and community involvement.

Empowerment and Inclusion

Mass media can empower individuals, particularly those in underserved or marginalized communities, by giving them a platform to voice their concerns, share their experiences, and participate in public debates. This inclusion is essential for inclusive development that considers the needs and aspirations of all members of society.

Behavior Change Communication

Mass media is instrumental in promoting behavior change to address public health challenges, environmental issues, and social norms that may hinder development progress. Through public service announcements, advertisements, and educational programs, media can encourage positive behaviors and discourage harmful ones.

Cultural Preservation and Promotion

Mass media can help preserve and promote local cultures, languages, and traditions, which are vital aspects of sustainable development and cultural diversity. It can also facilitate the exchange of cultural knowledge and experiences among different communities.

Monitoring and Accountability

Mass media serves as a watchdog by monitoring government actions, development projects, and public service delivery. Media can highlight successes, failures, and areas requiring improvement, promoting transparency and accountability in the development process.

Global Awareness and Solidarity

Mass media facilitates global communication and raises awareness about international development issues, fostering solidarity among people from different parts of the world and encouraging international cooperation for development goals.

Learn more about media literacy and digital literacy.


Overall, mass media’s role in development communication is multifaceted and essential for creating an informed, engaged, and empowered society capable of actively contributing to sustainable development efforts. It is crucial for media professionals, policymakers, and stakeholders to ensure that mass media operates with integrity, accuracy, and a commitment to promoting the public interest in the development context.

You can also learn about the corporatization and globalization of mass media.


Who has given the magic multiplier theory?

Wilbur Schramm first introduced the term in his book, “Mass Media and National Development: The Role of Information in the Developing Countries,” published in 1964. According to Schramm, mass media acts as a magic multiplier in the context of development communication for its ability to disseminate a vast amount of information to the majority of people using fewer resources and less time.

What is the magic multiplier theory?

In the context of development communication, mass media is considered a magic multiplier as it can magically multiply the message or information and reach out to a vast majority of people in less time. The magic multiplier approach of development communication posits the role of mass media for national development in developing countries.

What is the magic multiplier in communication?

Wilbur Schramm introduced the term magic multiplier in order to showcase the power of modern communication methods. According to him, mass media is a magic multiplier in communication.

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