Goodday guys and gals, the fact that you ended up on this page means that you want to learn more about media. That is an excellent mindset because media has become ubiquitious in our lives. That means that it is everywhere, and that it is so integrated in our lives that we don’t really notice it anymore. But for this reason, it is also super powerful, and has the capabilites to shape our lives in ways unprecedented before. A lot of people don’t realize that we have to be careful in the way we interact with media, otherwise it might have some negative consequences for our lives. Let us learn more about how mass media works. Check out the video, and if you want to go over the important theory again, there is a summary underneath for your convenience. Enjoy!


How Mass Media Works

Mass media broadcasts information by use of certain media technologies, and then reaches a very wide audience. This type of model for communication is called one-to-many. We can illustrate it as follows:

Communication model mass media

Here X stands for a source of mass communication, for example a newspaper, or a social media outlet like Facebook. And then the little y1 y2, y3 etcetera stand for individual people that they reach. This list can be very long and can extend to the millions, perhaps even billions.

one to many model communication

Another model for communication is one-to-one, this is completely different from mass media communication, and is typical for personal conversations.

Here the source X just sends a message to one person and that’s it, we’re done. Note, that some technologies that are used as mass media nowadays with a one-to-many model, used to be a one-to-one type of communication. For example, the radio, it used to be just for communication from one person to another. But then, as the technologies started to develop, it became possible to reach a wider audience.

Different Types of Mass Media

Now that we know how mass communication works, let’s look at some different categories that we have today. Each different medium has different restraints and targets different senses that we use to receive information. It can be useful to make this categorization, so that we know more precisely what kinds of mass media we are talking about.

So, to begin, we have print media. This consists of texts or illustrations that are typically printed on paper, while other forms are also possible. Examples are things like books, magazines, newspapers, and so on. This is coincidentally one of the oldest forms of mass media that we have.

Then came recordings, these are recreations of sound waves, that are put into a medium like a cassette or a gramophone record.

There is also cinema, which is as you probably know film that uses images and nowadays also sound to portray some sort of story. This type of medium can communicate many ideas, feelings or experiences through its imagery.

The fourth type is called radio, and this uses transmission of radio waves to disseminate it’s messages to the public.

The fifth form of mass media is television. This is a bit different of a medium than cinema even though they are both motion pictures with sound. But movies are usually fixed more towards the template of a story, but television can do many other things as well.

Sixth are video games. These are interactive forms of media where the user needs to provide feedback, that is to say press buttons, in order for the game to unfold.

Now, seventh, we have the internet, which is of course the humungous network that connects all our computers, laptops and so on. The internet is so broad and can do many things.

And last but not least, ­­we have mobile phones, the last form of mass media. Even though mobile phones have significantly more computing power nowadays, and have in essence turned into portable computers, phones were already considered mass media before any of this is was possible.

Hence, these are 8 types of mass media: print, recordings, cinema, radio, television, , video games, internet, and mobile phones. Note, that this list is not completely exhaustive, there can be other types as well that deserve to be on this list as well. Can you think of any? How about attending a live lecture, is that already part of a category, or should it be something of its own accord?

Function of Mass Media

The first function is perhaps also the most obvious one: entertainment. This comes in various forms and is most often used for people to relax, or to pass time in a pleasurable manner.

The second function of mass media is knowledge dissemination. When you are not being entertained, you are usually learning something. Note, that entertainment can also be informative, but that is usually not it’s main point. It just wants you to have a good time, perhaps enjoy a laugh or two. And also, informative things can often be quite entertaining as well. But again, that is not its main point, it wants to teach you something. One example of mass media that disseminates knowledge is the news of course, but also things like non-fiction books, or even academic articles in peer-reviewed journals do it as well.

The last function is called advocacy. This word means that some person or organization openly supports a cause. Advocacy is usually very biased, and this can be good, like in the cases of charities where they are raising money and awareness, but it can also be bad, like with certain forms of propaganda.

So, that is how mass media works, and soon we are also going to talk about how it exactly influences us. But for now you can be certain that you understand its mechanics, and can use it in a more sophisticated way. Catch ya next time!

Further Reading:

Influence of Mass Media

Pinto, S., Balenzuela, P., & Dorso, C. O. (2016). Setting the agenda: Different strategies of a Mass Media in a model of cultural disseminationPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications458, 378-390.


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