Mass media means technology that is intended to reach a mass audience. It is the primary means of communication used to reach the vast majority of the general public. The most common platforms for mass media are newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet. The general public typically relies on the mass media to provide information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment, and news in pop culture.
Mass media can be classified according to their physical form, the technology involved and the nature of the communication process. The general classification on this basis is as follows:
1. Traditional Media
Traditional media are the oldest of all other media and are connected with the folk art forms of the society. Every country has its own unique folk art forms to express our cultural messages. They connect people with their rich heritage and tell the stories of the past to the present generation. The folk art forms are closely related with the rituals of agrarian and marginalized groups. These traditional art forms like songs, dances and other performance in such societies are considered as traditional media since they inform, educate and entertain people by oral tradition. The origin of rural theatre and street drama is rooted in folk art forms.
2. Print Media
Print media is the printed version of telling the news, primarily through newspapers and magazines. Before the invention and widespread use of printing presses, printed materials had to be written by hand. Through the years, print media evolved to include entertainment, educational topics and more, instead of only conveying news.
Major forms of print media are :
b. Magazines and periodicals
3. Electronic Media
Electronic media is the media that one can share on any electronic device for the audiences viewing. Unlike static media (Printing) electronic media is broadcasted to the wider community. It is also known as ‘Broadcast Media’ Examples of Electronic media are things such as the television, mobile phone, the radio, or the wide internet.
4. New Media
The invention of the Internet and the World Wide Web opened up several new avenues for mass communication which include e-mail, websites, podcasts, e-books, blogging, social networking sites, Internet Protocol Television, Internet radio and the like. These kinds of online and digital means of producing, transmitting and receiving messages are called new media. Social networking is a major facility available in new media format. Social networking is defined as a social structure connecting relationships between individuals or organizations. A social networking site is an online platform where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users around the world. Social networking sites allow you to meet other Internet users directly. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are some such sites.
Mass media and Society
Mass media is communication—whether written, broadcast, or spoken—that reaches a large audience. Sociologists refer to this as a mediated culture where media reflects and creates the culture. Media is the reflection of our society and it depicts what and how society works. The overall influence of mass media has increased drastically over the years, and will continue to do so as the media itself improves. People need news/information for various reasons, on one hand it can be used to socialize and on the other to make decisions and formulate opinions. Entertainment would be the other function of the mass media where it is mostly used by the masses to amuse them in present day hectic environment. Educating the masses about their rights, moral, social and religious obligations is another important function of mass media, which needs no emphasis.
In present era of globalization, majority of people in the society depends on information and communication to remain connected with the world and do our daily activities like work, entertainment, health care, education, socialization, travelling and anything else that we have to do.
Functions of Mass Media in Society
1. Surveillance of the Environment
An important function of the media is to keep up a surveillance of all the happenings in the world and provide information to the human society. The media has the responsibility of providing news and cover a wide variety of issues that is of some service to the society. Media help maintain social order by providing instructions on what has to be done in times of crisis, thereby reducing confusion among the masses. For Example: In times of natural disasters, war, health scares, etc., it is the role of the media to create awareness by providing information on what is happening and of ways in which the disaster can be faced.
2. Mass Media can help in change
Using mass media, people’s attitudes and habits can be changed. For example, all of us have mistaken or wrong notions about various diseases like leprosy or HIV/AIDS. Many of us think that by touching people suffering from these diseases we would be infected. You might have heard on radio or watched television programmes or read messages which tell us that by touching an HIV/AIDS patient we do not get infected.
3. It has made the World Smaller and Closer
The speed of media has resulted in bringing people across the world closer. Let us take an example. When you watch a cricket match between India and another country in England, Australia or New Zealand, live on television, you feel you are part of the crowd in that stadium. Events, happy or sad, happening anywhere can be seen live. Sometimes we feel that the entire world is one big family.
4. Information and education functions
Mass media carry a lot of information which are essential for our day to day life. We get examination results, weather forecasts, current affairs, traffic regulations, alerts, precautions, government policies etc. from mass media. The core of media’s information function is performed by the media content called news. Good media try to carry accurate, objective and complete information since biased or incomplete reports will keep the audience away from the media. Mass media are mass educators too. Education is systematically organized information with predefined objectives. Schools and colleges are the primary source of formal education in our society. After finishing their formal education, members of the society depend on mass media for life-long education. They provide the society with updated educational content on a wide variety of subjects at the lowest cost.
5. Cultural Transmission
This refers to the ability of the media to teach the various norms, rules and values that exist in a society and ensure its transfer from one generation to the next. Television programmes by and large reflects the society in which they are broadcast and promote the understanding of a society’s cultural heritage. Children’s television programmes are designed to showcase good behaviors and moral standards which children can learn by watching.
We all need entertainment to break the monotony of our hectic, stressful life and divert our attention from the troubles and tensions. All media have entertainment content. Newspapers publish cartoons, comics, puzzles and special weekend supplements. The lion’s share of magazine content such as short stories, novels, satires and comics are also intended to entertain the audience. Movies are another big stock for entertainment. Broadcast media such as television and radio primarily concentrate on entertainment function through their programmes based on sports, film, serials, music, dance, comedy, animation and fashion shows. Nowadays, entertainment has become a big industry comprising motion picture companies, music firms, theater groups and game developers. Political functions If you analyze the mass media, be it television or newspapers, most of their content, especially news, is centered on politics in our society. We see our leaders criticize officials and political leaders and advocate for better living conditions during panel discussions on television. Similarly, journalists expose corruption, show up developments, and condemn or praise political activities considering their merits. Actually, these actions of the media make our democracy vibrant.
Mass media does affect the way in which masses think and act. It influences their behavior both positively and negatively. To some extent, media is responsible for generating negative feelings among those exposed to it. An early exposure to bold or violent films, books publishing adult content and news portraying ugly social practices has a deep impact on young minds. If children are bombarded with fight sequences, stunt work, sex and rape scenes, suicides and murders through books or movies, they are bound to leave a scar on these impressionable minds. Also Media is exposing the masses to fast food products, canned food, fad diets, and energy drinks. This is leading teenagers to adopt unhealthy eating habits. No one’s propagating the importance of exercising to keep fit. But there are advertisements of expensive exercise equipment, and weight and fat loss programs. Watching TV or browsing the web late night is spoiling the sleeping habits of many.
We also found that media is playing both constructive as well as destructive roles on one hand it has lots of advantages but on the other hand it has lots of disadvantages and at the end its upto the individual and society to decide which ones to use.