Communication is a natural process that take place between all living organisms. Every living being, whether it is a human being or an animal, cannot survive without communicating with it fellow beings.
Mass media consists of the various means by which information reaches large numbers of people, such as television, radio, movies, newspaper and the interest. Mass media can be defined as the media used for addressing or communicating with the masses. Anything that serves as the source for communication among a large audience is included in the category of mass media.
Sociologist study mass media to see how they shape people’s values, beliefs, perceptions and behavior. For example, mass media contribute to socialization, including gender socialization, like when movies implicitly teach young people that it is wrong for female to have many sexual partners. Mass media also affect social movements and influences belief and behavior.
Mass media is a broad term under which it includes everything or anything that convey a message to the masses.
From newspaper to book, from radio to television, from mobile phones to IPods and to internet, all are included in the category of mass media. Though the term was coined in the 1920s when radio and television were revolutioning the word into modern times, the concept of mass media is as old as human civilization itself. The only different is that the lives of the people in the past did not depend on the mass media like our lives do today. Today, we cannot live without mass media as they surrounding us like a shadow.
TYPE OF MASS MEDIA
There are three board categories of mass media. Print/publishing media, broadcasting media and electronic media.
Publishing media (Books, Newspapers, Magazines etc)
The phrase the media through began to be used in the 1920s, it was referred to something that had it origins much further that period in the past. The invention of the printing press in the late 15th century gave rise to some of the first form of mass communication, thereby enabling the publication of books and newspaper on a scale much larger than was previously possible. The first high-circulation newspaper arose in the eastern part of United States on the early 1800s and were made possible by the invention of high speed rotary steam printing presses and railroads that allowed large scale distribution over wide geographical areas. The increase in circulation, however lead to a decline in feedback and interactivity from the readership, making newspaper more of a one-way medium. From the outset, high-circulation newspaper have been medium for conditioning public opinion.
The publishing media are the oldest form of mass media include books, newpapers and magazines. It is believed that the first book in the world was printed in 863AD in China. Though it was the first book to be officially published, many historicans claims that some books had been published years before this term.
Newspapers are also not new. They were development during the 17th century in England and by the 19th century were common mass media. The publishing media or the print media are they only source of mass communication that have been of decline in its popularity but still a very important source of information popular among the masses.
Broadcasting-Radio and Television
The first commercial broadcast in the United States began in the 1920s. the first television broadcast for a mass audience began in 1936 in Germany and U.K. Regular mass TV broadcast in the United States began only in since the 1950s, when cinema, radio and TV began to be the primary source of information for a large percentage of population. They have began to be considered as central instrument of mass control.
Mass media plays a significant role in shaping public operations on a variety of important issues, both through the information that is dispensed and through them and the interpretations they place upon this information. They also play a large role in shaping modern cultures, by selecting and portraying a particular set of beliefs, values and traditions (an entire way of life) as reality.
The broadcasting media includes radio and television. These two media are probably the most highlighted inventions of the 20th century. The invention of radio changed the face of the earth forever. People could now hear news from around the world, live, sitting at their homes.
While the radio initiated the concept of audio mass communication, television revolutionized the visual form of mass communication. Now people could not hear news but also see them.
Although drama and plays had been popular even before the concept of any particular mass media, they were revolutionized into movies, films and tele series to be displayed on TV.
Sport were also recorded or broadcast like via radio and television making it easy for those who would have otherwise gone to stadiums and bought ticket to watch matches of their favourite sports from their homes. Similarly, music videos, soaps and various talk shows started to be become popular media among the masses. News channels cover a story or an event within seconds of their occurrence, keeping people updated, minute by minute of the entire important event occurring in different part of the world. Since the 1950s, in the countries that have reached a high level of industrialization the mass media of cinema, radio and television play a key role in political power.
The electronic media is the new age media that includes the computers, mobile phones, internet, IPods, CD players, tape recorders etc. the electronic media is what our world revolves around today. Internet is believed to be the service of services. It is the media that connect the entire globe. It is the wonder of the modern world on which our modern age largely depends on. If you want to search for something, Google search finds it for you in a few seconds. Through emails, you can get connected to someone in another part of the world in just a few seconds.
Another marvel of the modern age is the mobile phones. Mobile phones were first introduced in 1979 in Japan. They however, were not popular among the masses until the mid-90s. Within the span of ten to fifteen years, mobile phones have become so popular that the young generation can actually not do without it. Today, mobile phones are not just simple portable telephones but they are more of computers. Cassette players are also an important invention.
The most important invention of them all is perhaps the computers, which not only turned the electronic media around but also changed the face of modern technology.
Without computers, internet would have been impossible. Mass media refer collectively to all media technologies, including the internet, television, newspaper, films and radio which are used for mass communication and to the organizations that control these technologies.
ROLES OF MASS MEDIA
Mass media can be used for various purposes, which are as follows:
To get news and information
Advocacy, both for business and social concerns
This can include advertising, marketing, propaganda, public relations and political communication.
It has been done traditionally through performances of acting, music and sport, along with light reading. Also since the late 20th century, through videos and computer games, the mass media has been the same of entertainment.
Public Service Announcement
Mass media is communication whether written, broadcast or spoken that reaches a large audience. This includes television, radio, advertising, movies the internet, newspaper, magazines and so on. Mass media is a significant force in modern culture. Sociologists refer to this as Medicated culture, where media reflects and creates culture. Communities and individuals are bombarded constantly with message from a multitude of source including TV, billboard and magazines to name a few. These magazines promote not only product but also moods, attitude and a sense of what is and is not important. Mass media makes possible the concept of celebrity: without the ability of movies, magazines and news media to reach across thousands of miles, people could not have become famous. Infact, only political and business leaders, as well as the few notorious outlaws, were famous in the past. But in recent times, actors, singers and some social elite have become celebrities or ‘star’ with the help of mass media.
The high level of media saturation is a recent trend as recently in 1960s and 1970s, television, for example consisted of primarily a few networks, public broadcasting and a few local independent stations could be found in few homes. Today, one can find a television in the poorest of homes and sometimes more than one in most middle-class homes. Not only has it availability increased, we can now also watch diverse programmes to suit all ages, incomes groups, backgrounds and attitudes. This widespread availability and exposure makes television the primary focust of most mass media discussion. More recently, the internet has increased its role tremendously as more business and household now “sigh on to the internet”. While opinions vary as to the extend and type of influence the mass media wields, all sides agree that mass media has become a permanent part of modern culture.
IMPACT OF MASS MEDIA
Mass media enjoys a very prominent role in our lives. There are effects of mass media on the society at large. Media tends to influence; it is therefore obvious that there will be positive as well as negative influence of it. However, this is also depends upon the way different audience perceived things. The power of the mass media is by far recognized by everybody in terms of advertising, marketing and as a medium to disseminate information to people at large.
Since mass media is used to communicate and interact with people from various walks of life, it can often result in a conflict of options. Today, mass media give a person phenomenal exposure. This happen as a result of the various effects of the mass media on the society. The following are the advantages and disadvantages of mass media.
ADVANTAGES OF MASS MEDIA
i. The wide reach offered by mass media is phenomenal. It can target a global audience.
ii. In term of newspaper and magazines, it can reach a specific target group. Besides, it is easily accessible. For example, newspaper land on our doorstep and we have the latest news in our homes due to the television set.
iii. Certain type of mass media have a loyan fan following. This would means that an advertisement on a publication or a new channel would have ready audience
iv. We have the latest news and information at the click of a mouse! The internet is such a medium that give many options for the kind of information required.
v. Television, movies, internet and radio are some of the best forms of entertainment.
vi. Mass media can be used for educational purpose in an effective manner.
DISADVANTAGES OF MASS MEDIA
i. At times, the information reported may not be authentic hence, there may be misinterpretation of a situation.
ii. News can be manipulated to influence the minds of the audiences. For example, a particular political party manipulate reports in its favour, which would indicate its political control in the media.
iii. Media bias can occur due to various issue. A journalist or an editor may give personal preference to an issue.
iv. A particular event or a celebrity may receive undue importance and set wrong ideas before the youth. It may present an abstentious lifestyle, which may indicate wrong ideals among youngsters.
v. Unnecessary sensationalism of an issue may project wrong information to the public.
vi. Misleading message may again divert young minds towards wrong path.
vii. Wrong interpretation of news may even blow things out of proportion. This would create further unrest in any place or even violence in case of extreme situations.
viii. At times, a particular event or a news item may receive too much attention. Simply because of the lack of important news. This would again present a wrong idea before the public.