The works carried out within the framework of critical theory had a serious impact on the development of mass communication research. The concept of critical communication theory does not seek to define communication and build universal explanatory models based on this category. Instead, it tries to formulate some requirements that genuine communication should meet in human society so it becomes perfect. Habermas believes that communication, which involves only transmitting-receiving information or reaching a formal agreement on the meanings, is imperfect, distorted, and incomplete. Authentic communication is carried out only in the process of discursive reflection. It strives for ideal completeness that can never be fully achieved, but the intuitive process itself is liberating.
The material and ideological forces that create obstacles to the correct perception of discursive reflection are the main problem of the critical theory of communication. This approach, according to Craig, allows explaining how ideological attitudes support social injustice. In addition, it describes how justice can potentially be restored by communicative practices that make critical reflection possible. According to Craig, critical theory offers a model of communicative approach that is radically different from the socio-cultural model of communication as production.
For a scientist engaged in critical theory, activities that reproduce the existing social order and even create a new one are not yet genuine communication. For the social interaction to be based on proper mutual understanding, communicators need to openly discuss from time to time the existing differences in their judgments about the objective world, moral norms, and personal experience. A critical approach to communication is necessary to avoid distortion of the speech situation and the received message. Also, this approach implies that the understanding of the true motives of the speaker comes to the participants of the conversation during the discussion.