Mass media in simple terms is a medium to communicate to a large audience by different forms of technology. This includes television, radio, Internet, newspapers, pamphlets, etc. Today, a life without the presence of mass media is unimaginable. However, mass media has its pros and cons.
Mass media enjoys a very prominent role in our lives. It is the only medium that keeps us informed and connected to the outside world. However, a medium this large is sure to influence society at large. The influences can be either positive or negative depending on several factors.
Mass media can be categorized into broadcast media, print media, outdoor media, and digital media. Broadcast media comprises radio, television, recorded music, and films, and transmits information in electronic forms. Print media, as the name suggests, is a form of printed physical media which includes newspapers, books, magazines, pamphlets, and comics. The third one―outdoor media―consists of signs, billboards, and placards used in several places to spread a common message. Digital media includes Internet services like blogs, emails, websites, etc. It also includes mobile phone technology.
- The wide reach offered by mass media is phenomenal and has the ability to cover a global audience.
- Print and broadcast media are more focused in order to reach a specified target group. Besides, these forms are easily accessible. For example, the daily newspaper lands on one’s doorstep, or one can receive the latest news via a television set.
- Certain types of media have a loyal fan following. This provides related advertisers, publications, or television channels with a ready audience.
- Today, any kind of information is readily available on the Internet. One can use the Internet for social networking, obtaining specific or general information, sending and receiving emails, publishing content, and more. This makes the Internet one of the largest forms of mass media.
- Radio, television, music, Internet, books, are also very good sources of entertainment. One can spend time watching a movie, or listening to music, reading a novel, etc.
- Mass media in all forms is also used to educate people about the happenings of the world. Additionally, they also help increase awareness about different governmental policies, provisions, politics, sports, business, etc.
- When it comes to the authenticity of the information provided, it might not be genuine or completely authentic from every perspective. This could lead to a certain degree of misinterpretation on part of the general audience.
- There are a number of instances that involve the manipulation of news in order to gain political benefit. This misleads the audience, thus leading to deception or lack of authenticity. For example, a particular political party may manipulate reports in their favor, thus influencing the audience in a favorable way.
- Biases can also occur on a very basic or personal level. As the information providing sources are ultimately humans, they might tend to favor a certain news in competition to another.
- A particular event or a celebrity may receive undue importance, and set wrong ideals before different sections of society, mostly youth. For example, a movie showing a very popular actor or celebrity engaging in a narcotic addiction may divert his/her young fans and followers towards a wrong path.
- Unnecessary sensationalism of an issue may project it in a wrong way. This would again lead to misinterpretation or unnecessary exaggeration of the information on part of the general public.
- Wrong interpretation of news may even blow things out of proportion and cause societal imbalance. For instance, religious or ethnically sensitive information if interpreted in a wrong way could lead to riots.
- At times, a certain piece of news or information may receive too much attention simply because of lack of important news. This would mislead the audience into overemphasizing a silly or less important piece of information.
Although mass media poses more disadvantages than advantages, it is the only medium that helps us to stay updated and visualize the big picture of what’s happening around the world.