The earliest models of communication described or assumed a relatively linear process whereby someone sends a message to someone else via a channel and receives a response, called feedback. Interference in the process—whether psychological or environmental—was often called noise. This exchange process can occur on a more or less equal basis between the sender and receiver. When the initiative and ability lie overwhelmingly with the sender, the result is an impersonal, one-way flow of information. Of course, this is the case often with the traditional models and processes of mass communication, where media create and send messages with few opportunities for feedback from audience members and seldom via the same channels.

This early model of information-based processes has been termed as the transmission approach