Mass Media Influence on Society
By Dr. Anthony R. Curtis Mass Communication Department University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Over the last 500 years, the influence of mass media has grown exponentially with the advance of technology. First there were books, then newspapers, magazines, photography, sound recordings, films, radio, television the so-called New Media of the Internet, and now social media. Today, just about everyone depends on information and communication to keep their lives moving through daily activities like work, education, health care, leisure activities, entertainment, traveling, personal relationships, and the other stuff with which we are involved. It's not unusual to wake up, check the cellphone for messages and notifications, look at the TV or newspaper for news, commute to work, read emails, take meetings and makes phone calls, eat meals with friends and family, and make decisions based on the information that we gather from those mass media and interpersonal media sources.
We need to be aware that the values we hold, the beliefs we harbor and the decisions we make are based on our assumptions, our experiences, our education and what we know for a fact. We rely on mass media for the current news and facts about what is important and what we should be aware of. We trust the media as an authority for news, information, education and entertainment. Considering that powerful influence, then, we should know how it really works.
How media Influence us
The degree of influence depends on the availability and pervasiveness of media. All of the traditional mass media still have great influence over our lives. • • • Books once were supremely influential because they came first before newspapers, magazines, radio or television. Newspapers and magazines became great influencers after they were developed. Sound recordings and film were and still are influential.
Radio and then television were very influential. As the 20th century closed, TV exposed us to untold numbers of images of advertising and marketing, suffering and relief, sexuality and violence, celebrity, and much more. New and influential media-distribution channels have appeared in the 21st century. Delivered via the World Wide Web across the Internet, we are influenced daily by blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds and myriad forms of content sharing.
Who controls the message?
Who owns the media companies that shape our values, beliefs and decisions? A media conglomerate or media group is a company that owns many mass media businesses. According to a recent Fortune 500 list, the top five in terms of revenue are: • • • • • Walt Disney Company News Corporation Time Warner CBS Corporation Viacom
Other well-known major conglomerates include: • • NBC Universal Sony Corporation of America
Together, these giants control 95% of all the traditional media we receive every day. These media conglomerates own the major television and radio broadcast stations and networks and programing, video news, sports entertainment, entertainment theme parks, movie studios, integrated telecommunications, wireless mobile entertainment and information distribution systems, video games software, electronic and print media, the music industry, and a whole lot more. Back in the day, there was more diversity in companies, but they have merged over the decades so now they are few in number. Today’s huge merged companies have the power to shape our opinions and beliefs and influence our decisions. This is why it's important to be aware of what we are exposed to every day, so we can look at things from different perspectives and not just from the perspective of a medium.
Why are audience ratings important?
Money. Revenues. Profits. A commercial medium wants to sell ad space or time to businesses with products or services for sale. To make that sale, they need to be able to tell potential advertisers that their messages on...
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