"Mass Media" redirects here. For the video game company, see Mass Media Inc.
The mass media is a diversified collection of mediatechnologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets.
Broadcast media transmit information electronically, via such media as film, radio, recorded music, or television. Digital media comprises both Internet and mobile mass communication. Internet media comprise such services as email, social media sites, websites, and Internet-based radio and television. Many other mass media outlets have an additional presence on the web, by such means as linking to or running TV ads online, or distributing QR Codes in outdoor or print media to direct mobile users to a website. In this way, they can utilise the easy accessibility and outreach capabilities the Internet affords, as thereby easily broadcast information throughout many different regions of the world simultaneously and cost-efficiently. Outdoor media transmit information via such media as AR advertising; billboards; blimps; flying billboards (signs in tow of airplanes); placards or kiosks placed inside and outside buses, commercial buildings, shops, sports stadiums, subway cars, or trains; signs; or skywriting.Print media transmit information via physical objects, such as books, comics, magazines, newspapers, or pamphlets. Event organizing and public speaking can also be considered forms of mass media.
The organizations that control these technologies, such as movie studios, publishing companies, and radio and television stations, are also known as the mass media.[need quotation to verify]
Issues with definition
In the late 20th century, mass media could be classified into eight mass media industries: books, the Internet, magazines, movies, newspapers, radio, recordings, and television. The explosion of digital communication technology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries made prominent the question: what forms of media should be classified as "mass media"? For example, it is controversial whether to include cell phones, computer games (such as MMORPGs), and video games in the definition. In the 2000s, a classification called the "seven mass media" became popular. In order of introduction, they are:
- Print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc.) from the late 15th century
- Recordings (gramophone records, magnetic tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CDs, and DVDs) from the late 19th century
- Cinema from about 1900
- Radio from about 1910
- Television from about 1950
- Internet from about 1990
- Mobile phones from about 2000
Each mass medium has its own content types, creative artists, technicians, and business models. For example, the Internet includes blogs, podcasts, web sites, and various other technologies built atop the general distribution network. The sixth and seventh media, Internet and mobile phones, are often referred to collectively as digital media; and the fourth and fifth, radio and TV, as broadcast media. Some argue that video games have developed into a distinct mass form of media.
While a telephone is a two-way communication device, mass media communicates to a large group. In addition, the telephone has transformed into a cell phone which is equipped with Internet access. A question arises whether this makes cell phones a mass medium or simply a device used to access a mass medium (the Internet). There is currently a system by which marketers and advertisers are able to tap into satellites, and broadcast commercials and advertisements directly to cell phones, unsolicited by the phone's user. This transmission of mass advertising to millions of people is another form of mass communication.
Video games may also be evolving into a mass medium. Video games (for example massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), such as RuneScape) provide a common gaming experience to millions of users across the globe and convey the same messages and ideologies to all their users. Users sometimes share the experience with one another by playing online. Excluding the Internet however, it is questionable whether players of video games are sharing a common experience when they play the game individually. It is possible to discuss in great detail the events of a video game with a friend one has never played with, because the experience is identical to each. The question, then, is whether this is a form of mass communication.
Five characteristics of mass communication have been identified by sociologist John Thompson of Cambridge University:
- "[C]omprises both technical and institutional methods of production and distribution" - This is evident throughout the history of mass media, from print to the Internet, each suitable for commercial utility
- Involves the "commodification of symbolic forms" - as the production of materials relies on its ability to manufacture and sell large quantities of the work; as radio stations rely on their time sold to advertisements, so too newspapers rely on their space for the same reasons
- "[S]eparate contexts between the production and reception of information"
- Its "reach to those 'far removed' in time and space, in comparison to the producers"
- "[I]nformation distribution" - a "one to many" form of communication, whereby products are mass-produced and disseminated to a great quantity of audiences
Mass vs. mainstream and alternative
The term "mass media" is sometimes erroneously used as a synonym for "mainstream media". Mainstream media are distinguished from alternative media by their content and point of view. Alternative media are also "mass media" outlets in the sense that they use technology capable of reaching many people, even if the audience is often smaller than the mainstream.
In common usage, the term "mass" denotes not that a given number of individuals receives the products, but rather that the products are available in principle to a plurality of recipients.
Mass vs. local and speciality
Mass media are distinguished from local media by the notion that whilst mass media aims to reach a very large market, such as the entire population of a country, local media broadcasts to a much smaller population and area, and generally focuses on regional news rather than global events. A third type of media, speciality media, provide for specific demographics, such as specialty channels on TV (sports channels, porn channels, etc.). These definitions are not set in stone, and it is possible for a media outlet to be promoted in status from a local media outlet to a global media outlet. Some local media, which take an interest in state or provincial news, can rise to prominence because of their investigative journalism, and to the local region's preference of updates in national politics rather than regional news. The Guardian, formerly known as the Manchester Guardian, is an example of one such media outlet; once a regional daily newspaper, The Guardian is currently a nationally respected paper.
Forms of mass media
Main articles: Radio and Television
The sequencing of content in a broadcast is called a schedule. With all technological endeavours a number of technical terms and slang have developed. Please see the list of broadcasting terms for a glossary of terms used.
Radio and television programs are distributed over frequency bands that in the United States are highly regulated. Such regulation includes determination of the width of the bands, range, licensing, types of receivers and transmitters used, and acceptable content.
Cable television programs are often broadcast simultaneously with radio and television programs, but have a more limited audience. By coding signals and requiring a cable converter box at individual recipients' locations, cable also enables subscription-based channels and pay-per-view services.
A broadcasting organisation may broadcast several programs simultaneously, through several channels (frequencies), for example BBC One and Two. On the other hand, two or more organisations may share a channel and each use it during a fixed part of the day, such as the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim. Digital radio and digital television may also transmit multiplexed programming, with several channels compressed into one ensemble.
When broadcasting is done via the Internet the term webcasting is often used. In 2004, a new phenomenon occurred when a number of technologies combined to produce podcasting. Podcasting is an asynchronous broadcast/narrowcast medium. Adam Curry and his associates, the Podshow, are principal proponents of podcasting.
Main article: Film
The term 'film' encompasses motion pictures as individual projects, as well as the field in general. The name comes from the photographic film (also called filmstock), historically the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms for film exist, such as motion pictures (or just pictures and "picture"), the silver screen, photoplays, the cinema, picture shows, flicks, and most common, movies.
Films are produced by recording people and objects with cameras, or by creating them using animation techniques or special effects. Films comprise a series of individual frames, but when these images are shown in rapid succession, an illusion of motion is created. Flickering between frames is not seen because of an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Also of relevance is what causes the perception of motion: a psychological effect identified as beta movement.
Film is considered by many[who?] to be an important art form; films entertain, educate, enlighten, and inspire audiences. Any film can become a worldwide attraction, especially with the addition of dubbing or subtitles that translate the film message. Films are also artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them.[who?]
A video game is a computer-controlled game in which a video display, such as a monitor or television, is the primary feedback device. The term "computer game" also includes games which display only text (and which can, therefore, theoretically be played on a teletypewriter) or which use other methods, such as sound or vibration, as their primary feedback device, but there are very few new games in these categories.[who?] There always must also be some sort of input device, usually in the form of button/joystick combinations (on arcade games), a keyboard and mouse/trackball combination (computer games), a controller (console games), or a combination of any of the above. Also, more esoteric devices have been used for input, e.g., the player's motion. Usually there are rules and goals, but in more open-ended games the player may be free to do whatever they like within the confines of the virtual universe.
In common usage, an "arcade game" refers to a game designed to be played in an establishment in which patrons pay to play on a per-use basis. A "computer game" or "PC game" refers to a game that is played on a personal computer. A "Console game" refers to one that is played on a device specifically designed for the use of such, while interfacing with a standard television set. A "video game" (or "videogame") has evolved into a catchall phrase that encompasses the aforementioned along with any game made for any other device, including, but not limited to, advanced calculators, mobile phones, PDAs, etc.
Audio recording and reproduction
Sound recording and reproduction is the electrical or mechanical re-creation or amplification of sound, often as music. This involves the use of audio equipment such as microphones, recording devices, and loudspeakers. From early beginnings with the invention of the phonograph using purely mechanical techniques, the field has advanced with the invention of electrical recording, the mass production of the 78 record, the magnetic wire recorder followed by the tape recorder, the vinyl LP record. The invention of the compact cassette in the 1960s, followed by Sony's Walkman, gave a major boost to the mass distribution of music recordings, and the invention of digital recording and the compact disc in 1983 brought massive improvements in ruggedness and quality. The most recent developments have been in digital audio players.
An album is a collection of related audio recordings, released together to the public, usually commercially.
The term record album originated from the fact that 78 RPMPhonographdisc records were kept together in a book resembling a photo album. The first collection of records to be called an "album" was Tchaikovsky'sNutcracker Suite, release in April 1909 as a four-disc set by Odeon records. It retailed for 16 shillings—about £15 in modern currency.
A music video (also promo) is a short film or video that accompanies a complete piece of music, most commonly a song. Modern music videos were primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings. Although the origins of music videos go back much further, they came into their own in the 1980s, when Music Television's format was based on them. In the 1980s, the term "rock video" was often used to describe this form of entertainment, although the term has fallen into disuse.
Music videos can accommodate all styles of filmmaking, including animation, live action films, documentaries, and non-narrative, abstract film.
See also: Digital media
The Internet (also known simply as "the Net" or less precisely as "the Web") is a more interactive medium of mass media, and can be briefly described as "a network of networks". Specifically, it is the worldwide, publicly accessible network of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). It consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and governmental networks, which together carry various information and services, such as email, online chat, file transfer, and the interlinked web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.
Contrary to some common usage, the Internet and the World Wide Web are not synonymous: the Internet is the system of interconnected computer networks, linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections etc.; the Web is the contents, or the interconnected documents, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. The World Wide Web is accessible through the Internet, along with many other services including e-mail, file sharing and others described below.
Toward the end of the 20th century, the advent of the World Wide Web marked the first era in which most individuals could have a means of exposure on a scale comparable to that of mass media. Anyone with a web site has the potential to address a global audience, although serving to high levels of web traffic is still relatively expensive. It is possible that the rise of peer-to-peer technologies may have begun the process of making the cost of bandwidth manageable. Although a vast amount of information, imagery, and commentary (i.e. "content") has been made available, it is often difficult to determine the authenticity and reliability of information contained in web pages (in many cases, self-published). The invention of the Internet has also allowed breaking news stories to reach around the globe within minutes. This rapid growth of instantaneous, decentralized communication is often deemed likely to change mass media and its relationship to society.
"Cross-media" means the idea of distributing the same message through different media channels. A similar idea is expressed in the news industry as "convergence". Many authors understand cross-media publishing to be the ability to publish in both print and on the web without manual conversion effort. An increasing number of wireless devices with mutually incompatible data and screen formats make it even more difficult to achieve the objective "create once, publish many".
The Internet is quickly becoming the center of mass media. Everything is becoming accessible via the internet. Rather than picking up a newspaper, or watching the 10 o'clock news, people can log onto the internet to get the news they want, when they want it. For example, many workers listen to the radio through the Internet while sitting at their desk.
Even the education system relies on the Internet. Teachers can contact the entire class by sending one e-mail. They may have web pages on which students can get another copy of the class outline or assignments. Some classes have class blogs in which students are required to post weekly, with students graded on their contributions.
Blogs (web logs)
Blogging, too, has become a pervasive form of media. A blog is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or interactive media such as images or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order, with most recent posts shown on top. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images and other graphics, and links to other blogs, web pages, and related media. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Microblogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts.
RSS is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal blogs. It is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts. An RSS document (which is called a "feed" or "web feed" or "channel") contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with web sites in an automated manner that can be piped into special programs or filtered displays.
Main article: Podcast
A podcast is a series of digital-media files which are distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. The term podcast, like broadcast, can refer either to the series of content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.
Main article: Mobile media
Mobile phones were introduced in Japan in 1979 but became a mass media only in 1998 when the first downloadable ringing tones were introduced in Finland. Soon most forms of media content were introduced on mobile phones, tablets and other portable devices, and today the total value of media consumed on mobile vastly exceeds that of internet content, and was worth over 31 billion dollars in 2007 (source Informa). The mobile media content includes over 8 billion dollars worth of mobile music (ringing tones, ringback tones, truetones, MP3 files, karaoke, music videos, music streaming services etc.); over 5 billion dollars worth of mobile gaming; and various news, entertainment and advertising services. In Japan mobile phone books are so popular that five of the ten best-selling printed books were originally released as mobile phone books.
Similar to the internet, mobile is also an interactive media, but has far wider reach, with 3.3 billion mobile phone users at the end of 2007 to 1.3 billion internet users (source ITU). Like email on the internet, the top application on mobile is also a personal messaging service, but SMS text messaging is used by over 2.4 billion people. Practically all internet services and applications exist or have similar cousins on mobile, from search to multiplayer games to virtual worlds to blogs. Mobile has several unique benefits which many mobile media pundits claim make mobile a more powerful media than either TV or the internet, starting with mobile being permanently carried and always connected. Mobile has the best audience accuracy and is the only mass media with a built-in payment channel available to every user without any credit cards or PayPal accounts or even an age limit. Mobile is often called the 7th Mass Medium and either the fourth screen (if counting cinema, TV and PC screens) or the third screen (counting only TV and PC).
Main articles: Newspaper and Magazine
See also: Publishing § Industry sub-divisions, and Printing
A magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising or purchase by readers.
Magazines are typically published weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly or quarterly, with a date on the cover that is in advance of the date it is actually published. They are often printed in color on coated paper, and are bound with a soft cover.
Magazines fall into two broad categories: consumer magazines and business magazines. In practice, magazines are a subset of periodicals, distinct from those periodicals produced by scientific, artistic, academic or special interest publishers which are subscription-only, more expensive, narrowly limited in circulation, and often have little or no advertising.
Magazines can be classified as:
A newspaper is a publication containing news and information and advertising, usually printed on low-cost paper called newsprint. It may be general or special interest, most often published daily or weekly. The most important function of newspapers is to inform the public of significant events. Local newspapers inform local communities and include advertisements from local businesses and services, while national newspapers tend to focus on a theme, which can be exampled with "The Wall Street Journal" as they offer news on finance and business related-topics. The first printed newspaper was published in 1605, and the form has thrived even in the face of competition from technologies such as radio and television. Recent developments on the Internet are posing major threats to its business model, however. Paid circulation is declining in most countries, and advertising revenue, which makes up the bulk of a newspaper's income, is shifting from print to online; some commentators, nevertheless, point out that historically new media such as radio and television did not entirely supplant existing.
Outdoor media is a form of mass media which comprises billboards, signs, placards placed inside and outside commercial buildings/objects like shops/buses, flying billboards (signs in tow of airplanes), blimps, skywriting, AR Advertising. Many commercial advertisers use this form of mass media when advertising in sports stadiums. Tobacco and alcohol manufacturers used billboards and other outdoor media extensively. However, in 1998, the Master Settlement Agreement between the US and the tobacco industries prohibited the billboard advertising of cigarettes. In a 1994 Chicago-based study, Diana Hackbarth and her colleagues revealed how tobacco- and alcohol-based billboards were concentrated in poor neighbourhoods. In other urban centers, alcohol and tobacco billboards were much more concentrated in African-American neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods.
Mass media encompasses much more than just news, although it is sometimes misunderstood in this way. It can be used for various purposes:
Professions involving mass media
Journalism is the discipline of collecting, analyzing, verifying and presenting information regarding current events, trends, issues and people. Those who practice journalism are known as journalists.
News-oriented journalism is sometimes described as the "first rough draft of history" (attributed to Phil Graham), because journalists often record important events, producing news articles on short deadlines. While under pressure to be first with their stories, news media organizations usually edit and proofread their reports prior to publication, adhering to each organization's standards of accuracy, quality and style. Many news organizations claim proud traditions of holding government officials and institutions accountable to the public, while media critics have raised questions about holding the press itself accountable to the standards of professional journalism.
Public relations is the art and science of managing communication between an organization and its key publics to build, manage and sustain its positive image. Examples include:
- Corporations use marketing public relations to convey information about the products they manufacture or services they provide to potential customers to support their direct sales efforts. Typically, they support sales in the short and long term, establishing and burnishing the corporation's branding for a strong, ongoing market.
- Corporations also use public relations as a vehicle to reach legislators and other politicians, seeking favorable tax, regulatory, and other treatment, and they may use public relations to portray themselves as enlightened employers, in support of human-resources recruiting programs.
- Nonprofit organizations, including schools and universities, hospitals, and human and social service agencies, use public relations in support of awareness programs, fund-raising programs, staff recruiting, and to increase patronage of their services.
- Politicians use public relations to attract votes and raise money, and when successful at the ballot box, to promote and defend their service in office, with an eye to the next election or, at career’s end, to their legacy.
Publishing is the industry concerned with the production of literature or information – the activity of making information available for public view. In some cases, authors may be their own publishers.
Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works such as books and newspapers. With the advent of digital information systems and the Internet, the scope of publishing has expanded to include websites, blogs, and the like.
As a business, publishing includes the development, marketing, production, and distribution of newspapers, magazines, books, literary works, musical works, software, other works dealing with information.
Publication is also important as a legal concept; (1) as the process of giving formal notice to the world of a significant intention, for example, to marry or enter bankruptcy, and; (2) as the essential precondition of being able to claim defamation; that is, the alleged libel must have been published.
A software publisher is a publishingcompany in the software industry between the developer and the distributor. In some companies, two or all three of these roles may be combined (and indeed, may reside in a single person, especially in the case of shareware).
Software publishers often license software from developers with specific limitations, such as a time limit or geographical region. The terms of licensing vary enormously, and are typically secret.
Developers may use publishers to reach larger or foreign markets, or to avoid focussing on marketing. Or publishers may use developers to create software to meet a market need that the publisher has identified.
Internet Based Professions
A YouTuber is anyone who has made their fame from creating and promoting videos on the public video-sharing site, YouTube. Many YouTube celebrities have made a profession from their site through sponsorships, advertisements, product placement, and network support.
The history of mass media can be traced back to the days when dramas were performed in various ancient cultures. This was the first time when a form of media was "broadcast" to a wider audience. The first dated printed book known is the "Diamond Sutra", printed in China in 868 AD, although it is clear that books were printed earlier. Movable clay type was invented in 1041 in China. However, due to the slow spread of literacy to the masses in China, and the relatively high cost of paper there, the earliest printed mass-medium was probably European popular prints from about 1400. Although these were produced in huge numbers, very few early examples survive, and even most known to be printed before about 1600 have not survived. The term "mass media" was coined with the creation of print media, which is notable for being the first example of mass media, as we use the term today. This form of media started in Europe in the Middle Ages.
Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the printing press allowed the mass production of books to sweep the nation. He printed the first book, a Latin Bible, on a printing press with movable type in 1453. The invention of the printing press gave rise to some of the first forms of mass communication, by enabling the publication of books and newspapers on a scale much larger than was previously possible. The invention also transformed the way the world received printed materials, although books remained too expensive really to be called a mass-medium for at least a century after that. Newspapers developed from about 1612, with the first example in English in 1620; but they took until the 19th century to reach a mass-audience directly. The first high-circulation newspapers arose in London in the early 1800s, such as The Times, and were made possible by the invention of high-speed rotary steam printing presses, and railroads which allowed large-scale distribution over wide geographical areas. The increase in circulation, however, led to a decline in feedback and interactivity from the readership, making newspapers a more one-way medium.
The phrase "the media" began to be used in the 1920s. The notion of "mass media" was generally restricted to print media up until the post-Second World War, when radio, television and video were introduced. The audio-visual facilities became very popular, because they provided both information and entertainment, because the colour and sound engaged the viewers/listeners and because it was easier for the general public to passively watch TV or listen to the radio than to actively read. In recent times, the Internet become the latest and most popular mass medium. Information has become readily available through websites, and easily accessible through search engines. One can do many activities at the same time, such as playing games, listening to music, and social networking, irrespective of location. Whilst other forms of mass media are restricted in the type of information they can offer, the internet comprises a large percentage of the sum of human knowledge through such things as Google Books. Modern day mass media includes the internet, mobile phones, blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds.
During the 20th century, the growth of mass media was driven by technology, including that which allowed much duplication of material. Physical duplication technologies such as printing, record pressing and film duplication allowed the duplication of books, newspapers and movies at low prices to huge audiences. Radio and television allowed the electronic duplication of information for the first time. Mass media had the economics of linear replication: a single work could make money. An example of Riel and Neil's theory. proportional to the number of copies sold, and as volumes went up, unit costs went down, increasing profit margins further. Vast fortunes were to be made in mass media. In a democratic society, the media can serve the electorate about issues regarding government and corporate entities (see Media influence). Some consider the concentration of media ownership to be a threat to democracy.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Between 1985 and 2018 about 76,720 deals have been announced in the Media industry. This sums up to an overall value of around 5,634 bil USD. There have been three major waves of M&A in the Mass Media Sector (2000, 2007 and 2015), while the most active year in terms of numbers was 2007 with around 3,808 deals. The U.S. is the most prominent country in Media M&A with 41 of the top 50 deals having an acquiror from the United States.
The largest deal in history was the acquisition of Time Warner by America Online Inc for 164,746.86 mil USD.
Influence and sociology
Main article: influence of mass media
Limited-effects theory, originally tested in the 1940s and 1950s, considers that because people usually choose what media to interact with based on what they already believe, media exerts a negligible influence. Class-dominant theory argues that the media reflects and projects the view of a minority elite, which controls it. Culturalist theory, which was developed in the 1980s and 1990s, combines the other two theories and claims that people interact with media to create their own meanings out of the images and messages they receive. This theory states that audience members play an active, rather than passive role in relation to mass media.
In an article entitled Mass Media Influence on Society, rayuso argues that the media in the US is dominated by five major companies (Time Warner, VIACOM, Vivendi Universal, Walt Disney and News Corp) which own 95% of all mass media including theme parks, movie studios, television and radio broadcast networks and programing, video news, sports entertainment, telecommunications, wireless phones, video games software, electronic media and music companies. Whilst historically, there was more diversity in companies, they have recently merged to form an elite which have the power to shape the opinion and beliefs of people. People buy after seeing thousands of advertisements by various companies in TV, newspapers or magazines, which are able to affect their purchasing decisions. The definition of what is acceptable by society is dictated by the media. This power can be used for good, for example encouraging children to play sport. However, it can also be used for bad, for example children being influenced by cigars smoked by film stars, their exposure to sex images, their exposure to images of violence and their exposure to junk food ads. The documentary Super Size Me describes how companies like McDonald's have been sued in the past, the plaintiffs claiming that it was the fault of their liminal and subliminal advertising that "forced" them to purchase the product. The Barbie and Ken dolls of the 1950s are sometimes cited as the main cause for the obsession in modern-day society for women to be skinny and men to be buff. After the attacks of 9/11, the media gave extensive coverage of the event and exposed Osama Bin Laden's guilt for the attack, information they were told by the authorities. This shaped the public opinion to support the war on terrorism, and later, the war on Iraq. A main concern is that due to this immense power of the mass media (being able to drive the public opinion), media receiving inaccurate information could cause the public opinion to support the wrong cause.
In his book The Commercialization of American Culture, Matthew P. McAllister says that "a well-developed media system, informing and teaching its citizens, helps democracy move toward its ideal state."
In 1997, J. R. Finnegan Jr. and K. Viswanath identified 3 main effects or functions of mass media:
- The Knowledge Gap: The mass media influences knowledge gaps due to factors including "the extent to which the content is appealing, the degree to which information channels are accessible and desirable, and the amount of social conflict and diversity there is in a community".
- Agenda Setting: People are influence in how they think about issues due to the selective nature of what media choose for public consumption. After publicly disclosing that he had prostate cancer prior to the 2000 New York senatorial election, Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York City (aided by the media) sparked a huge priority elevation of the cancer in people's consciousness. This was because news media began to report on the risks of prostate cancer, which in turn prompted a greater public awareness about the disease and the need for screening. This ability for the media to be able to change how the public thinks and behaves has occurred on other occasions. In mid-1970s when Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller, wives of the then-President and then-Vice President respectively, were both diagnosed with breast cancer. J. J. Davis states that "when risks are highlighted in the media, particularly in great detail, the extent of agenda setting is likely to be based on the degree to which a public sense of outrage and threat is provoked". When wanting to set an agenda, framing can be invaluably useful to a mass media organisation. Framing involves "taking a leadership role in the organisation of public discourse about an issue". The media is influenced by the desire for balance in coverage, and the resulting pressures can come from groups with particular political action and advocacy positions. Finnegan and Viswanath say, "groups, institutions, and advocates compete to identify problems, to move them onto the public agenda, and to define the issues symbolically" (1997, p. 324).
- Cultivation of Perceptions: The extent to which media exposure shapes audience perceptions over time is known as cultivation. Television is a common experience, especially in places like the United States, to the point where it can be described as a "homogenising agent" (S. W. Littlejohn). However, instead of being merely a result of the TV, the effect is often based on socioeconomic factors. Having a prolonged exposure to TV or movie violence might affect a viewer to the extent where they actively think community violence is a problem, or alternatively find it justifiable. The resulting belief is likely to be different depending of where people live however.
Since the 1950s, when cinema, radio and TV began to be the primary or the only source of information for a larger and larger percentage of the population, these media began to be considered as central instruments of mass control. Up to the point that it emerged the idea that when a country has reached a high level of industrialization, the country itself "belongs to the person who controls communications."
Mass media play a significant role in shaping public perceptions on a variety of important issues, both through the information that is dispensed through them, and through the interpretations they place upon this information. They also play a large role in shaping modern culture, by selecting and portraying a particular set of beliefs, values, and traditions (an entire way of life), as reality. That is, by portraying a certain interpretation of reality, they shape reality to be more in line with that interpretation. Mass media also play a crucial role in the spread of civil unrest activities such as anti-government demonstrations, riots, and general strikes. That is, the use of radio and television receivers has made the unrest influence among cities not only by the geographic location of cities, but also by proximity within the mass media distribution networks.
Racism and stereotyping
Further information: Stereotype
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(December 2012)
Mass media sources, through theories like framing and agenda-setting, can affect the scope of a story as particular facts and information are highlighted (Media influence). This can directly correlate with how individuals may perceive certain groups of people, as the only media coverage a person receives can be very limited and may not reflect the whole story or situation; stories are often covered to reflect a particular perspective to target a specific demographic.
According to Stephen Balkaran, an Instructor of Political Science and African American Studies at Central Connecticut State University, mass media has played a large role in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans. The media focus on African-American in the contexts of crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behavior has resulted in a distorted and harmful public perception of African-Americans. African-Americans have been subjected to oppression and discrimination for the past few hundred years. According to Stephen Balkaran in his article "Mass Media and Racism": "The media has played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to African-Americans' continuing status as second-class citizens". This has resulted in an uncertainty among white Americans as to what the genuine nature of African-Americans really is. Despite the resulting racial divide, the fact that these people are undeniably American has "raised doubts about the white man's value system". This means that there is a somewhat "troubling suspicion" among some Americans that their white America is tainted by the black influence. Mass media as well as propaganda tend to reinforce or introduce stereotypes to the general public.
Ethical issues and criticism
Lack of local or specific topical focus is a common criticism of mass media. A mass news media outlet is often forced to cover national and international news due to it having to cater for and be relevant for a wide demographic. As such, it has to skip over many interesting or important local stories because they simply do not interest the large majority of their viewers. An example given by the website WiseGeek is that "the residents of a community might view their fight against development as critical, but the story would only attract the attention of the mass media if the fight became controversial or if precedents of some form were set".
The term "mass" suggests that the recipients of media products constitute a vast sea of passive, undifferentiated individuals. This is an image associated with some earlier critiques of "mass culture" and mass society which generally assumed that the development of mass communication has had a largely negative impact on modern social life, creating a kind of bland and homogeneous culture which entertains individuals without challenging them. However, interactive digital media have also been seen to challenge the read-only paradigm of earlier broadcast media.
Whilst some[who?] refer to the mass media as "opiate of the masses", others[who?] argue that is a vital aspect of human societies. By understanding mass media, one is then able to analyse and find a deeper understanding of one's population and culture. This valuable and powerful ability is one reason why the field of media studies is popular. As WiseGeek says, "watching, reading, and interacting with a nation's mass media can provide clues into how people think, especially if a diverse assortment of mass media sources are perused".
Since the 1950s, in the countries that have reached a high level of industrialization, the mass media of cinema, radio and TV have a key role in political power.
Contemporary research demonstrates an increasing level of concentration of media ownership, with many media industries already highly concentrated and dominated by a very small number of firms.
When the study of mass media began the media was compiled of only mass media which is a very different media system than the social media empire of the 21st-century experiences. With this in mind, there are critiques that mass media no longer exists, or at least that it doesn't exist in the same form as it once did. This original form of mass media put filters on what the general public would be exposed to in regards to "news" something that is harder to do in a society of social media.
Theorist Lance Bennett explains that excluding a few major events in recent history, it is uncommon for a group big enough to be labeled a mass, to be watching the same news via the same medium of mass production. Bennett's critique of 21st Century mass media argues that today it is more common for a group of people to be receiving different news stories, from completely different sources, and thus, mass media has been re-invented. As discussed above, filters would have been applied to original mass medias when the journalists decided what would or wouldn't be printed.
Social Media is a large contributor to the change from mass media to a new paradigm because through social media what is mass communication and what is interpersonal communication is confused. Interpersonal/niche communication is an exchange of information and information in a specific genre. In this form of communication, smaller groups of people are consuming news/information/opinions. In contrast, mass media in its original form is not restricted by genre and it is being consumed by the masses.
"Mass media" is a deceptively simple term encompassing a countless array of institutions and individuals who differ in purpose, scope, method, and cultural context. Mass media include all forms of information communicated to large groups of people, from a handmade sign to an international news network. There is no standard for how large the audience needs to be before communication becomes "mass" communication. There are also no constraints on the type of information being presented. A car advertisement and a U.N. resolution are both examples of mass media.
Because "media" is such a broad term, it will be helpful in this discussion to focus on a limited definition. In general usage, the term has been taken to refer to only "the group of corporate entities, publishers, journalists, and others who constitute the communications industry and profession." This definition includes both the entertainment and news industries. Another common term, especially in talking about conflict, is "news media." News media include only the news industry. It is often used interchangeably with "the press" or the group of people who write and report the news.
The distinction between news and entertainment can at times be fuzzy, but news is technically facts and interpretation of facts, including editorial opinions, expressed by journalism professionals. Which facts are included, how they are reported, how much interpretation is given, and how much space or time is devoted to a news event is determined by journalists and management and will depend on a variety of factors ranging from the editorial judgment of the reporters and editors, to other news events competing for the same time or space, to corporate policies that reflect management's biases.
Mass communicated media saturate the industrialized world. The television in the living room, the newspaper on the doorstep, the radio in the car, the computer at work, and the fliers in the mailbox are just a few of the media channels daily delivering advertisements, news, opinion, music, and other forms of mass communication.
Because the media are so prevalent in industrialized countries, they have a powerful impact on how those populations view the world. Nearly all of the news in the United States comes from a major network or newspaper. It is only the most local and personal events that are experienced first-hand. Events in the larger community, the state, the country, and the rest of the world are experienced through the eyes of a journalist.
Not only do the media report the news, they create the news by deciding what to report. The "top story" of the day has to be picked from the millions of things that happened that particular day. After something is deemed newsworthy, there are decisions on how much time or space to give it, whom to interview, what pictures to use, and how to frame it. Often considered by editors, but seldom discussed, is how the biases and interests of management will impact these determinations. All of these decisions add up to the audience's view of the world, and those who influence the decisions influence the audience.
The media, therefore, have enormous importance to conflict resolution because they are the primary -- and frequently only -- source of information regarding conflicts. If a situation doesn't make the news, it simply does not exist for most people. When peaceful options such as negotiation and other collaborative problem-solving techniques are not covered, or their successes are not reported, they become invisible and are not likely to be considered or even understood as possible options in the management of a conflict.
The news media thrive on conflict. The lead story for most news programs is typically the most recent and extreme crime or disaster. Conflict attracts viewers, listeners, and readers to the media; the greater the conflict the greater the audience, and large audiences are imperative to the financial success of media outlets. Therefore, it is often in the media's interest to not only report conflict, but to play it up, making it seem more intense than it really is. Long-term, on-going conflict-resolution processes such as mediation are not dramatic and are often difficult to understand and report, especially since the proceedings are almost always closed to the media. Thus conflict resolution stories are easily pushed aside in favor of the most recent, the most colorful, and the most shocking aspects of a conflict. Groups that understand this dynamic can cater to it in order to gain media attention. Common criteria for terrorist attacks include timing them to coincide with significant dates, targeting elites, choosing sites with easy media access, and aiming for large numbers of casualties. Protesters will hoist their placards and start chanting when the television cameras come into view. It is not unusual for camera crews or reporters to encourage demonstrators into these actions so they can return to their studios with exciting footage. The resulting media coverage can bestow status and even legitimacy on marginal opposition groups, so television coverage naturally becomes one of their planned strategies and top priorities. The "30-second sound bite" has become a familiar phrase in television and radio news and alert public figures strategize to use it to their advantage.
In most parts of the industrialized world, the news has to "sell," because the handful of giant media conglomerates that control most of the press (media outlets) place a high priority on profitable operations. Their CEOs are under relentless pressure to generate high returns on their shareholders' investments. Media companies face tight budgets and fierce competition, which often translate into fewer foreign correspondents, heavy reliance on sensationalism, space and time constraints, and a constant need for new stories. Reporters with pressing deadlines may not have time to find and verify new sources. Instead they tend to rely on government reports, press releases, and a stable of vetted sources, which are usually drawn from "reliable" companies and organizations. Most overseas bureaus have been replaced by "parachute journalism," where a small news crew spends a few days or less in the latest hotspot. These same media outlets are also dependent upon advertisement revenue, and that dependence can compromise their impartiality. Many newspapers and television stations think twice before reporting a story that might be damaging to their advertisers, and will choose to avoid the story, if possible. According to a survey taken in 2000, "...about one in five (20 percent) of local and (17 percent) (of) national reporters say they have faced criticism or pressure from their bosses after producing or writing a piece that was seen as damaging to their company's financial interests." The drive to increase advertising revenue has led many local news shows to measure out world news in seconds to accommodate longer weather and sports reports.
The news that is reported in the West comes from an increasingly concentrated group of corporate- and individually-owned conglomerates. Currently, the majority of all media outlets in the United States and a large share of those internationally are owned by a handful of corporations: Vivendi/Universal, AOL/Time Warner (CNN), The Walt Disney Co. (ABC), News Corporation (FOX), Viacom (CBS), General Electric (NBC), and Bertelsmann. These companies' holdings include international news outlets, magazines, television, books, music, and movies as well as large commercial subsidiaries that are not part of the media. Many of these companies are the result of recent mergers and acquisitions. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently considering revising media-ownership rules that would encourage even further consolidation in the future.
In addition to the control exercised by owners, there are also government controls and self-censorship. The United States, governed by a constitution where the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, has arguably one of the most free presses in the world, and is one of the few countries where the right to free speech is expressly written into the constitution. Yet even the U.S. government exerts control over the media, particularly during times of war or crisis. In many other countries around the world, especially emerging nations and dictatorships, governments impose tight restrictions on journalists, including penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment and execution. In these environments, rigorous self-censorship is necessary for survival. In a major survey of 287 U.S. journalists, "about a quarter of those polled have personally avoided pursuing newsworthy stories."
Without the media, most people would know little of events beyond their immediate neighborhood. The further one goes outside of one's circle of friends and family, the more time-consuming and expensive it becomes to get information. Very few, if any, individuals have the resources to stay independently informed of world events. With the news, however, all one has to do is turn on a television or turn to the Internet. Even when it is biased or limited, it is a picture of what is happening around the world.
The more sources one compares, the more accurate the picture that can be put together. In addition to the media conglomerates, there are also a range of independent news outlets, though they have a much smaller audience. Some of these provide an alternative view of events and often strive to publish stories that cannot be found in the mainstream media. Technological advances in many industrialized (primarily Western) countries make it possible to read papers and watch broadcasts from around the globe. While language skills can be a barrier, it is possible to live in the United States and watch Arab-language broadcasts from the Middle East, or to get on the Internet and read scores of Chinese newspapers. Having access to these alternative voices limits the power of monopolies over information.
Another important benefit of a functioning mass news media is that information can be relayed quickly in times of crisis. Tornado and hurricane announcement can give large populations advance warning and allow them to take precautions and move out of harm's way. In a country suffering war, a radio broadcast outlining where the latest fighting is can alert people to areas to avoid. In quieter times, the media can publish other useful announcements, from traffic reports to how to avoid getting HIV. It is a stabilizing and civilizing force.
Along the same lines, the news media allow elected and other officials to communicate with their constituents. Frequently, the delegates at a negotiation will find they understand each other much better over the course of their discussions, but that understanding will not reach the larger populations they represent without a concerted communications effort. If constituents are not aware of these new understandings (and subsequent compromises) during the course of negotiations, they will almost certainly feel cheated when a final agreement falls far short of their expectations. To achieve ratification, delegates must justify the agreement by discussing it with and explaining it to their constituents throughout the entire process and the media is often used for this purpose.
A recent media phenomenon dubbed the "CNN effect" occurs when powerful news media (i.e. CNN) seem to be creating the news by reporting it. It has been argued that CNN, with its vast international reach, sets the agenda by deciding which items are newsworthy and require the attention of government leaders. Traditionally, agenda-setting has been seen as the prerogative of government. It is also argued that emotionally-charged footage of people suffering, such as mass starvation, bombed-out markets, and burning houses, arouse the public to demand immediate action. This gives leaders little time to think through an appropriate response and can force them to take valuable resources from more urgent, less photogenic issues.
This use of sensational imagery is cited as being responsible for the United States' ill-fated involvement in Somalia : "In the words of one U.S. congressman, 'Pictures of starving children, not policy objectives, got us into Somalia in 1992. Pictures of U.S. casualties, not the completion of our objectives, led us to exit Somalia.' " On the other hand, failure of the media to fully report on the genocide that claimed an estimated 800,000 lives in Rwanda during a 100-day period in 1994, made it easy for Western governments to ignore the crisis that they preferred not to acknowledge until long after it ended.
The CNN effect also brings up issues of accuracy. The New York Times, with its vast resources, has long been known as "the newspaper of record; once something is reported by this leading news outlet it is accepted as fact (unverified) and carried by other outlets, even when errors creep into the Times' account.
Some observers argue that the CNN effect is overrated, if not complete myth. Warren Strobel and Susan Carruthers, for example, argue that the U.S. government has not been forced into doing anything; rather, it used reaction over media stories to introduce policies that it already desired. Strobel also argues that any action a politician undertakes as a result of this pressure will be merely a "minimalist response" -- a limited action that suggests a greater response than has taken place.
Theories of Journalism
Any discussion of media and conflict eventually leads to the purpose and responsibilities of journalists. A Western audience expects objectivity of its news reporters. While most citizens take this for granted, objective reporting has not been the historical norm. The concept of objectivity itself has often been the focus of debate. As Susan Carruthers states, "... news can never be 'value-free,' from 'nobody's point of view.' " It is a sentiment voiced by numerous journalism professionals and teachers.
Deciding what the news is requires a value judgment. In the Western news media there is a consensus that news is something unusual which departs from everyday life and is quantifiable. For example, the outbreak of war is news, but any fighting thereafter might not be. As the war continues, its newsworthiness depends on whether the news agency's home troops are involved, whether the troops of close allies are involved, how many casualties are reported, how photogenic the victims are, whether reporters have access to the fighting and information about it, and what other stories occur at the same time. Western news consists of events, not processes. This bias can result in news reports where events seem to have no context.
In response to the drawbacks of 'objective' journalism, some journalists have begun advocating for alternative models, such as "peace journalism" and "public journalism." Peace journalism advocates the belief that journalists should use the power of the media to help resolve conflict rather than report it from a distance. Its detractors argue that "[o]nce a journalist has set himself the goal of stopping or influencing wars, it is a short step to accepting that any means to achieve that end are justified. ... There can be no greater betrayal of journalistic standards."
Public journalism seeks to explore issues affecting a community and stay with those issues long enough to give the community enough information to understand the conflict and get involved. This, however, often requires a long-term commitment by the journalist and news media to follow a story over the course of the conflict. If the story is of continuing high importance to the readers -- such as a war that involves local troops, such coverage is common. If the story is not deemed continuously "newsworthy," however, it takes a committed journalist to continue to write about it. 
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 Strobel, Warren. 1996. Managing Global Chaos: Sources and Responses to International Conflict, eds. Chester A. Crocker and Fen Osler Hampson with Pamela Aall. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press. p. 366.
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 Special thanks to Richard Salem, President of Conflict Management Initiatives, for his assistance in drafting this essay.
Use the following to cite this article:
Akin, Jennifer. "Mass Media." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: March 2005 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/mass-communication>.