Saturday, March 04, 2006

Profile: Mass Media

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"Media" redirects here. For other uses, see Media (disambiguation).

Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). It was coined in the 1920s with the advent of nationwide radio networks and of mass-circulation newspapers and magazines. The mass-media audience has been viewed by some commentators as forming a mass society with special characteristics, notably atomization or lack of social connections, which render it especially susceptible to the influence of modern mass-media techniques such as advertising and propaganda. It is also gaining popularity in the blogosphere when referring to the mainstream media.



Etymology and usage

Media (the plural of medium) is a truncation of the term media of communication, referring to those organized means of dissemination of fact, opinion, entertainment, and other information, such as newspapers, magazines, cinema films, radio, television, the World Wide Web, billboards, books, CDs, DVDs, videocassettes, computer games and other forms of publishing. Although writers currently change in their preference for using media in the singular ("the media is...") or the plural ("the media are..."), the former will still incur criticism in some situations. (Please see data for a similar example.) Academic programs for the study of mass media are usually referred to as mass communication programs. An individual corporation within the mass media is referred to as a Media Institution.

The term "mass media" is mainly used by academics and media-professionals. When members of the general public refer to "the media" they are usually referring to the mass media, or to the news media, which is a section of the mass media.

Sometimes mass media (and the news media in particular) is referred to as the "corporate media". Other references include the "mainstream media" (MSM). Technically, "mainstream media" includes outlets that are in harmony with the prevailing direction of influence in the culture at large. In the United States, usage of these terms often depends on the connotations the speaker wants to invoke. The term "corporate media" is often used by leftist media critics to imply that the mainstream media is itself composed of large multinational corporations, and promotes those interests (see e.g., Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting; Noam Chomsky's "propaganda model"). This is countered by right-wingers with the term "MSM", the acronym implying that the majority of mass media sources are dominated by leftist powers which are furthering their own agenda (see Conspiracy theory, Media bias in the United States).


During the 20th century, the advent of mass media was driven by technology that allowed the massive duplication of material at a low price. 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. Television and radio allowed the electronic duplication of content for the first time. Mass media had the economics of linear replication: a single work could make money proportional to the number of copies sold, and as volumes went up, units costs went down, increasing profit margins further. Vast fortunes were to be made in mass media. In a democratic society, an independent media serves to educate the public/electorate about issues regarding government and corporate entities (see Mass media and public opinion). Some consider concentration of media ownership to be a grave threat to democracy. (For examples of some American newspapers' history of jingoism and drumbeating for war, see yellow journalism.)


  • 1453: Johnannes Gutenberg prints the Bible, using his printing press, ushering in the Renaisance
  • 1825: Nicéphore Niépce takes the first permanent photograph
  • 1830: Telegraphy is indepentantly developed in England and the United States.
  • 1876: First telephone call made by Alexander Graham Bell
  • 1878: Thomas Alva Edison patents the phonograph
  • 1890: First juke box in San Francisco's Palais Royal Saloon.
  • 1890: Telephone wires are installed in Manhattan.
  • 1896: Hollerith founds the Tabulating Machine Co. It will become IBM in 1924.
  • 1898: Loudspeaker is invented.
  • 1913: Edison transfers from cylinder recordings to discs
  • 1915: Radiotelephone carries voice from Virginia to the Eiffel Tower
  • 1916: Radios receive tuners.
  • 1919: Short-wave radio is invented.
  • 1910: The start of Hallmark Cards.
  • 1912: Queen Elizabeth starring Sarah Bernhardt is first feature-length movie.
  • 1912: Air mail begins
  • 1913: The portable phonograph is manufactured.
  • 1920: KDKA-AM signs on the air in Pittsburg, United States, becoming the world's first commerical radio station.
  • 1922: BBC is formed and broadcasting to London.
  • 1924: KDKA created a short-wave radio transmitter.
  • 1925: BBC broadcasting to the majority of the UK.
  • 1926: NBC took over AT&T Red Network.
  • 1926: NBC is formed
  • 1927: The Jazz Singer: The first motion picture with sounds debuts
  • 1927: Philo Taylor Farnsworth debuts the first electrionic television system
  • 1928: The Teletype was introduced.
  • 1933: Edwin Armstrong invents FM Radio
  • 1934: Half of the homes in the U.S. have radios.
  • 1935: First telephone call made around the world.
  • 1936: BBC opened world's first regular (then defined as at least 200 lines) high definition television service.
  • 1938: The War of the Worlds is broadcast on October 30th, causing mass hysteria.
  • 1939: Western Union introduces coast-to-coast fax service.
  • 1939: Regular electronic television broadcasts begin in the U.S.
  • 1939: The wire recorder is invented in the U.S.
  • 1940: Zenith begins development on the mechanically colored television.
  • 1940: The first commercial television station, WNBT (now WNBC-TV)/New York signs on the air
  • 1942: During World War II propaganda is used to encourage wartime support.
  • 1950: My Favorite Husband moves from Radio to TV, and is renamed I Love Lucy. – I Love Lucy was one of the biggest and most watched shows in the world. Even today it is still watched by millions.
  • 1951: The first color televisions go on sale –Changed TV into what we know it today. Until 1951, TVs were only sold in black and white. With the addition of color, production companies could also entertain people with bright and vibrate colors.
  • 1953: The first Playboy arrives, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. –

Playboy was, and still is, the biggest and most famous adult magazine.

  • 1958: The first modem experiments are tested. – The modem changed communication forever. Now computers could be hooked together, and information could be sent faster then ever before
  • 1959: Xerox makes the first copier – the creation of the paper copier made it easier for items to be reprinted and distributed.
  • 1957: Sputnik is launched and sends back signals from near earth orbit
  • 1960: Echo I, a U.S. balloon in orbit, reflects radio signals to Earth.
  • 1962: Telstar satellite transmits an image across the Atlantic.
  • 1963: TV news "comes of age" in reporting JFK assassination.
  • 1963: Audio cassette is invented in Holland
  • 1963: Martin Luther King gives "I have a dream" speech.
  • 1965: Vietnam War becomes first war to be televised.
  • 1965: Most broadcasts are in color.
  • 1967: Newspapers, magazines start to digitize production.
  • 1970s: Darpanet, progenitor to the internet developed
  • 1971: Intel debuts the microprocessor
  • 1980: CNN launches
  • 1980: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones put news database online.

People don’t have to get newspapers to know the news. They can just look on their computers. They used a videotext system that used a t.v set to detect signals and retrieve information.

  • 1981: The laptop computer is introduced by Tandy.

The laptop was used for many things. It helped for more extensive research, typing things to make it look neater, and interact with people in a different way then on the phone.

  • 1982: USA Today is a newspaper influenced by television news style.

Uses brighter colors and high quality photos. There is a busier lifestyle today and people have less time to read early newspapers and articles in USA Today were short and right to the point. They are sold in coin boxes to look like t.v sets. It boosted the daily readers to 6.6 billion.

  • 1983: Cellular phones begin to appear
  • 1984: Apple Macintosh is introduced.

It was a visual of high-tech future. Shows more visual views of things and you can upload more information on important documents.

  • 1985: Pay-per-view channels open for business.

People could watch movies and programs without going out to rent them. People could also watch a sporting event or other event if they missed it on regular television.

  • 1995: With the launch of internet friendly Windows 95, the internet explodes


Mass media can be used for various purposes:


Electronic media and print media include:

Toward the end of the 20th century, the advent of the World Wide Web marked the first era in which any individual could have a means of exposure on a scale comparable to that of mass media. For the first time, anyone with a web site can 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 (in many cases, self-published) web pages.

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”.

Contrast with non-mass media

Non-mass or "personal" media (point-to-point and person-to-person communication) include:

See also

External links
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