Introduction to Mass Media/Introduction

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Table of Contents:

1. What is Mass Media

2. Functions of Mass Media

3. Media Convergence

4. History

5. Effects of Mass Media

What is Mass Media

So, what is Mass media? Mass media is communication that is to a large group, or groups, of people in a short time (Mass Media, 2013, p.1). This can be written, spoken or broadcast communication. Some of the most popular forms of mass media are newspapers, magazines, radio, advertisements, social media, television, Internet, and films/movies. Mass communication refers to the technology that is used to communicate to a large group, or groups of people in a short time frame (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2004, p. 22). There are other forms of communication. Interpersonal communication is kind of how it sounds. It’s more personal and is usually face-to-face between two or more people (Interpersonal Communication Skills, 2013, p.1). Now, there can be interpersonal communication that is not face-to-face. For instance four individuals may have to work on a group project for school. They may choose to Facetime one another. Facetime is an application (or app) that people use for video conferencing/chatting using the Internet (What is Facetime, 2013, p.1). Everyone will be able to see one another as they disclose information about their project, but they aren’t necessarily face-to-face. This can also happen through a group chat using the Internet or text messaging. Another form of communication is Intrapersonal. This is done when an individual communicates with themselves usually in their mind (Intrapersonal Communication, 2013, p.1). Now, before you think of strapping this person in a jacket that makes them hug themselves and place them in an all-white room think of the last time you had a conversation with yourself to make a decision. Have you ever gone back and forth with yourself to justify why you could eat the last piece of cake and still be on a diet? Maybe you’ll run home from work instead of driving, or maybe something less drastic where you’ll work out three times that week instead of twice? This, my friend, is intrapersonal communication. Being able to reach a large amount of people in a short amount of time is valued especially in society, politics and commerce, and it’s controlled by corporations (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 2013, p. 1). The mass-media industry “employs professionals to conceive, produce, promote, and deliver communication products that are specifically designed to meet the goal of attracting large audiences” (p. 1). These products “may be sold as objects (such as books or digital videodiscs [DVDs]), exhibited for the price of a ticket or subscription (such as movies shown in cinemas or on premium or pay-for-view cable TV channels), or offered at no cash cost to consumers so as to create an audience for paid advertising (such as commercial television or radio broadcasts)” (p. 1). “Some of the mass media use combinations of these funding sources; for example, most newspapers and magazines are sold directly to the reader but depend on selling advertisements for their profitability” (p. 1).

Functions of Mass Media

There are four major functions of mass media. The first is for surveillance. This is to provide information about issues, events and developments in society. The second is correlation. Media must interpret events and issues and ascribe meaning so that individuals understand their roles in society. A term that best fits with correlation is agenda setting, which means the media doesn’t tell you what to think, but what to think about. Media tells you what is and isn’t important and to what degree, but that will be covered in a later chapter. Next is cultural transmission. This is where the media aids the transference of dominant cultures and subcultures from one generation to the next or to immigrants. The last function of mass media is to simply entertain (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2004, p. 24-25). According to Pavlik & McIntosh, 2004, there is a standard, overarching model for mass communication that has been used since the invention of the first printing press. The model has four main points. The first is “communication flow is largely one-way, from sender or source to receiver or audience” (p. 22). The second, “communication is from one or a few to many” (p. 22). Third, “communication is anonymous (sources generally do not know their audiences and audience do not know the sources, except at a general level)” (p. 22). Fourth, “audiences are largely seen as passive recipients of the messages distributed by the media, with little opportunity for feedback and practically no opportunity for immediate feedback or interaction with one another” (p. 22). So what does this all mean? This model refers to movies/films, books, newspapers, television, radio, or any other form of mass media. It states that mass communication isn’t interactive, audiences and senders are unknown to one another and it can only flow one way. Digital media and convergence (terms that will be covered later in the chapter) of media changes all of that. Consumers aren’t just passive. They are actively participating and not just consuming media; an example of this is through blogs (“a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites”) (Blog, 2013, p.1). What about email? It’s possible for me to send a mass email to all of my contacts (a total of 739 people) stating that I am having a Christmas party and that I want everyone to attend. Well, that’s sending a message to a large group of people in a relatively short amount of time (because I type really fast), but the sender (myself) and receivers (my contacts) are not unknown. Examples like this show that the way we use mass media is changing.

Media Convergence

Media convergence is known “broadly as the coming together of computing, telecommunications, and media in a digital environment” (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2004, p. 8). There are three major categories for media convergence. These categories are technological convergence, economic convergence and cultural convergence. The first, technological convergence has to do with traditional media converging into a digital platform. This is referring to traditional media such as print, audio and video converging with digital media. An example of this would be a journalist having to report highlights of a news story on Twitter or conducting a podcast. Journalists sometimes have to be interactive, especially on social media, and not just robots giving information. Technological convergences changes the experience consumers have with traditional media. Another example would be being able to read an e-book on your tablet or Kindle (p. 8). Economic Convergence is the merging of Internet, or telecommunication companies, with more traditional media companies. An example of this would be Comcast merging with NBC Universal (p. 9). According to Pavilk & McIntosh, 2004, traditional media companies “have grown fewer and much larger in the past 50 years through mergers and acquisitions” (p. 9). The last is cultural convergence. This pertains to the beliefs, values and practices shared by a group of people. It is the “process of globalization of media content” (p. 11). An example of this is if women in Thailand are watching the American show Sex in the City (p. 11).

History

To give a brief history on the beginnings of mass media some historians believe that medieval European cathedral architecture functioned as [the first] mass medium of religious communication by offering biblical stories and religious information to a largely illiterate population through the use of painting, sculpture, and other visual arts” (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 2013, p. 1], but really mass media starts as an “industrial-era phenomenon” with the Gutenburg printing press (p. 1). It was the first form of mass media in 1450. The printing press spread news faster than anything before it’s time and introduced printing of not only newspapers but books as well (Cecil, 2013, p.1). It was first put to use by inventor, Johaness Gutenburg, to produce “thousands of indulgences for the church” and the following year a “42-line Bible, the first book ever printed on a movable type printing press” (The Gutenburg Press, 2013, p.1). Next came the telegraph. It was created by Samuel Morse and was the first means of electronic communication. It used a code, Morse Code, that incorporated dots and dashes to spell out words in the late 19th century. It was the first means of electronic communication. What followed was the telephone in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, that was surprisingly first used as a radio and not the telephone that we know it to be today (Pavilk & McIntosh, 2004, p.3). These two inventions paved the way for mass communication and thus mass media. From these inventions we can now communicate with one another virtually anywhere, anytime and anyplace very quickly.

The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1890. It was the first technology that was designed to reproduce sound recordings (Cecil, 2013, p.1). In 1891, Thomas Edison with the “the Edison Company successfully demonstrated the Kinetoscope, which enabled one person at a time to view moving pictures” (The History of Motion Picture, 2013, p. 1). “Later in 1896, Edison showed his improved Vitascope projector and it was the first commercially, successful, projector in the U.S. (The History of Motion Picture, 2013, p. 1).

Radio came next in the1920’s. According to Cecil, 2013, “radio stations started broadcasting in the beginning of the 20th century. This brought the new concept of listening to radio programming into more peoples homes on affordable radios,” (p. 1). In return radio audiences grew rapidly and made a huge impact on people’s lives. According to Radio and Television, 2013,

By the late 1930s, radio was woven into the fabric of American life. Public events, from political rallies to sporting events and vaudeville routines, were now enjoyed by millions in private. And, increasingly, Americans got their news from radio, especially news of the expanding war in Europe. The immediacy and drama of the war news tied people more intimately to unfolding events; it also, apparently, put some on edge. When Orson Welles broadcast his “War of the Worlds” on Halloween, 1938, he had no inkling that the mock terror of the play would resonate with a real terror of invasion among some listeners, prompting them to clog highways as they sought to flee the Martians (p. 1).

The television was invented in the 1930’s, but it did not become a success until about two decades later (Cecil, 2013, p.1). Radio and Television, 2013, stated,

Although experimentation with television broadcasting began in the late 1920s, technical difficulties, corporate competition, and World War II postponed its introduction to the public until 1946. Television constituted a revolutionary change from radio, but its introduction was not as chaotic as that of radio, for an institutional framework already existed. The television boom occurred between 1949, when 940,000 households had a set, and 1953, when the number soared to 20 million (p. 2).

To show how television integrated into the American lifestyle Radio and Television, 2013, stated, it integrated “with the explosive rise of a consumer culture after the war, pent-up demand fueled by the privations of the depression and the war, coupled with prosperity, was exploited by advertisers who turned to television to sell their products. In the early 1950s, many corporations produced and sponsored entire shows, and ads were at least one minute in length” (p. 2).

There are many inventions that contributed to the success of mass media technologies and paved the way for the technology we use today. According to Daniel Mallia, 2013, the development of the Internet can be traced back to 1958, when, in the shadow of the USSR's launch of the Sputnik satellite, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was established to research and develop new technology for the United States military” (p. 1). Mallia stated, “During the 1960s, computers became increasingly more standard and smaller, the first online networks were established and the ARPA network program began in 1966. Throughout the period there was great theorizing and excitement over the problems, components, and potential military and academic applications of computer networking” (p. 1). In October of 1969, “the first ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) host-to-host (meaning independent network-to-independent network) connection was established between the University of California at Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute” (p. 1). This first packet sharing connection “between two networks became the cornerstone for what came to be known in the early ‘70s as the Internet” (p. 1). Shortly after the “connection began to be used for email and in 1976, the first commercial email service, Comet, was established” (p. 1). According to Mallia many of us confuse the “World Wide Web, a network of Internet websites, with the Internet, a network of computer networks, but the World Wide Web would not come online until much later, in 1993” (p. 1). From these inventions stemmed Social Media, which are “Internet sites where people interact freely, sharing and discussing information about each other and their lives, using a multimedia mix of personal words, pictures, videos and audio” (Curtis, 2013, p. 1). “At these Web sites, individuals and groups create and exchange content and engage in person-to-person conversations” (p. 1). Social media appears in many forms “including blogs and microblogs, forums and message boards, social networks, wikis, virtual worlds, social bookmarking, tagging and news, writing communities, digital storytelling and scrapbooking, and data, content, image and video sharing, podcast portals, and collective intelligence” (p. 1). The most common sites are “Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, LiveJournal, Wikipedia, Wetpaint, Wikidot, Second Life, Del.icio.us, Digg, Reddit, Lulu and many others” (p. 1).

According to Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 2013, “no communication technology is inherently a mass medium but rather becomes one through usage” (p. 1). An example would be that the “radio was invented at the end of the 19th century primarily for use as a two-way communication system to serve industrial shipping and naval operations’ (p. 1). “In the 1920s, however, corporate decisions were made by several major electronics manufacturers to mass-produce inexpensive radio receivers for retail sale and to operate radio stations as incentives for consumers to buy them” (p. 1). This shows how radio broadcasting, a mass medium, was implemented, and it swiftly “grew into the primary use of that medium” (p. 1).

Television, on the other hand, developed in the complete opposite way. At first, it was “introduced to the general public as a mass medium in the late 1940s” (p. 1). Then, decades later, “the development of supplementary appliances, such as the videocassette recorder (VCR) and the home video camera, allowed for its use as an interpersonal medium” (p. 1). Now, the telephone is an example of a “medium of interpersonal communication that remains, primarily, just that” (p. 1); although, as stated earlier, it was not used as an interpersonal communication device as it is today but instead used like a radio. “It is only occasionally used as a mass medium, as when a telemarketer uses computers to automatically dial thousands of telephone numbers for the purpose of playing recorded messages; similarly, letter writing has historically been an interpersonal medium, but the direct mailing of letters of solicitation, sometimes numbering in the millions, by post or by e-mail, constitutes the use of the letter as a mass medium” (p. 1).

Effects of Mass Media Media today is forever changing. The fact that technology evolves and changes “drives the development of media” (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 2013, p. 1). Because we as a society are always using mass media there are consequences and effects that have been laid on the forefront of mass media. Certain scholars, scientist and researchers “believe that the mass media shape the way people view the world, especially when people have little direct experience; others point to the media as providing role models—positive and negative—imitated by members of the audience” (p. 2). The portrayal of violence in the media seems to be the most talked about issue, but other “behavioral areas are of concern” (p. 2). These arguments tend to be based on “the supposition that the experience of the content presented by contemporary mass media differs in some qualitative way from other material that people have been exposed to since the beginning of social communication” (p. 2). Attempts to “hold mass-media corporations legally responsible for the criminal acts of the consumers of their products have failed, and a general consensus has been reached that people will have to continue to be responsible for their own behaviors in the age of mass media” (p. 2).

Terms:

Mass media is communication that is to a large group, or groups, of people in a short time.

Mass communication refers to the technology that is used to communicate to a large group, or groups of people in a short time frame.

Interpersonal communication is kind of how it sounds. It’s more personal and is usually face-to-face between two or more people.

Facetime is an application (or app) that people use for video conferencing/chatting using the Internet.

Intrapersonal communication is when an individual communicates with themselves usually in their mind.

Blogs a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.

Media convergence is known broadly as the coming together of computing, telecommunications, and media in a digital environment.

Technological convergence has to do with traditional media converging into a digital platform.

Economic Convergence is the merging of Internet, or telecommunication companies, with more traditional media companies.

Cultural convergence pertains to the beliefs, values and practices shared by a group of people; process of globalization of media content.

Gutenburg printing press was the first form of mass media in 1450; spread news faster than anything before it’s time and introduced printing of not only newspapers but books as well.

Telegraph was created by Samuel Morse and was the first means of electronic communication.

Morse Code incorporated dots and dashes to spell out words in the late 19th century.

Phonograph, invented by Thomas Edison in 1890, was the first technology that was designed to reproduce sound recordings.

Kinetoscope enabled one person at a time to view moving pictures.

Vitascope projector was the first commercially, successful, projector in the U.S.

Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was established to research and develop new technology for the United States military.

ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) host-to-host (meaning independent network-to-independent network) connection was established between the University of California at Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute.

Comet the first commercial email service.

World Wide Web a network of Internet websites.

Internet a network of computer networks.

Social Media are Internet sites where people interact freely, sharing and discussing information about each other and their lives, using a multimedia mix of personal words, pictures, videos and audio.

References

Blog. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mass+media

Cecil, A. (2013). Development of Mass Media. In Time Toast. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/development-of-mass-media

Curtis, A. (2013). Brief History of Social Media. In University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/NewMedia/SocialMedia/SocialMediaHistory.html

Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (2013). In Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/upfront/grolier/mass_media.htm

Interpersonal Communication Skills (2013). In SkillsYouNeed. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/interpersonal-communication.html

Intrapersonal Communication (2013). In The Free Dictionary. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Intrapersonal+communication

Mallia, D. (2013). When Was the Internet Invented? In History News Network. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://hnn.us/article/142824

Mass Media. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mass+media

Pavlik, J. & McIntosh, S. (2004). Converging media : an introduction to mass communication. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon.

Radio and Television (2013). In History. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.history.com/topics/radio-and-television

The Gutenburg Press (2013). In Treasure's of the McDonald Collection. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/mcdonald/incunabula/gutenberg/

The History of the Motion Picture (2013). In About.com Inventors. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blmotionpictures.htm

What is FaceTime (2013). In HowStuffWorks. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.howstuffworks.com/what-is-facetime.htm