Mass media

Mass media

Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies, including the Internet, television, newspapers, film and radio, which are used for mass communications, and to the organizations which control these technologies.[1][2]

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.[3]

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.[4]



The phrase "the media" began to be used in the 1920s, but referred to something that had its origins much further in the past.[5] The invention of the printing press in the late 15th century 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.[6][7][8]


The first high-circulation newspapers arose in the eastern United States in the early 1800s, 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.[9][10][11]

Since the beginning, high-circulation newspapers have been a medium for conditioning public opinion.[12]

Electrical telegraph

In the 1840s, the first commercial electrical telegraph was developed, allowing to separate communications from transportation, enabling messages to be transmitted instantaneously over large distances.[7]


Cinema began to be a large-scale entertainment industry in 1894, with the first commercial exhibition of film.


The first commercial broadcasts in the United States began in the 1920s.


The first television broadcasts for a mass audience began in 1936 Germany and UK.[13][14] Regular mass TV broadcasts in the United States only began in 1948, with a show hosted by Arturo Toscanini and starring comedian Milton Berle.

Political role in modern societies

Since the '50s, 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.[15][16] 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."[3]

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.[15] 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.[16]

Internet, mobile devices, video games


A panel in the Newseum in Washington, D.C., shows the September 12 headlines in America and around the world

Mass media can be used for various purposes:


The electronic and print medias use a wide range of mediums. These include broadcasting (in the narrow sense, for radio and television); film (mostly used for entertainment, but also for documentaries); the internet, blogs or podcasts (such as news, music, pre-recorded speech, and video); publishing (including electronic publishing). Many instances of various types of recorded discs or tapes —in the 20th century, these were mainly used for music; video and computer uses followed, video games themselves having developed into a mass form of media.[citation needed] Other devices, such as mobile phones, can be used for rapid breaking news and short clips of entertainment like jokes, horoscopes, alerts, games, music, and advertising.

See also


  1. ^ "Mass media", Oxford English Dictionary, online version November 2010
  2. ^ Potter, W. James (2008). Arguing for a general framework for mass media scholarship. SAGE. p. 32. ISBN 9781412964715. 
  3. ^ a b Eco, U. (1967) quote:

    Not long ago, if you wanted to seize political power in a country, you had merely to control the army and the police. Today it is only in the most backward countries that fascist generals, in carrying out a coup d'etat, still use tanks. If a country has reached a high level of industrialization the whole scene changes. The day after the fall of Khrushchev, the editors of Pravda, Izvestiia, the heads of the radio and television were replaced; the army wasn't called out. Today a country belongs to the person who controls communications.

  4. ^ Downing, John, ed (2004). The SAGE Handbook of Media Studies. SAGE. p. 296. ISBN 9780761921691. 
  5. ^ Briggs, Asa & Burke, Peter (2010). Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet. Polity Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780745644950. 
  6. ^ Splichal, Slavko (2006). "In Pursuit of Socialized Press". In Berry, David & Theobald John. Radical mass media criticism: a cultural genealogy. Black Rose Books. p. 41. ISBN 9781551642468. 
  7. ^ a b Ramey, Carl R. (2007). Mass media unleashed: how Washington policymakers shortchanged the American public. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 1–2. ISBN 9780742555709. 
  8. ^ Galician, Mary-Lou (2004). Sex, love & romance in the mass media: analysis & criticism of unrealistic portrayals & their influence. Psychology Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780805848328. 
  9. ^ Newhagen, J.E. (1999). ""The role of feedback in assessing the news on mass media and the Internet"". In Kent, Allen. Encyclopedia of library and information science, Volume 65. CRC Press. p. 210. 
  10. ^ Nerone, John (2006). "Approaches to Media History". In Valdivia, Angharad N.. A companion to media studies. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 102. ISBN 9781405141741. 
  11. ^ Pace, Geoffrey L. (1997). "The Origins of Mass Media in the United States". In Wells, Allen & Hakenen, Ernest A.. Mass media & society. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 10. ISBN 9781567502886. 
  12. ^ Eco (1967)
  13. ^ "TV History". Gadgetrepublic. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  14. ^ Teletronic – The Television History Site
  15. ^ a b Lorimer and Scannell (1994) pp.26–7
  16. ^ a b Vipond (2000) p.88


Further reading

External links

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