Think about this for a second: whenever you want to hear your favorite song, watch your favorite show, or see the latest current events, where do you go? You more than likely turn your television, radio, or computer on. The source that the majority of the general public uses to get their news and information from is considered mass media. Mass media 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. Types of Mass Media
The mass media has evolved significantly over time. Have you ever wondered how the latest news and information was communicated in the past? Well before there was the internet, television, or the radio, there was the newspaper. The newspaper was the original platform for mass media. For a long period of time, the public relied on writers and journalists for the local newspapers to provide them with the latest news in current events. Centuries later, in the 1890s, came the invention of the radio. The radio would soon supersede the newspaper as the most pertinent source for mass media. Families would gather around the radio and listen to their favorite radio station programs to hear the latest news regarding politics, social issues, and entertainment. Later on down the line came the invention of the television. The television would soon replace the radio for the most effective platform to reach the general public. Today, the internet is the most relevant form of mass media and has become a major tool for news outlets. Since the evolution of the internet, the general public is now able to access those same news outlets in an instant with just a click of a mouse, instead of having to wait for scheduled programs. The Influence of Mass Media
Through mass media, news outlets have a major influence on the general public and a major impact on the public's opinion on certain topics. In many cases, the mass media is the only source that the general public relies on for news. For example, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, mass media made it possible for the public to witness this historical event. Mass media also plays a critical role in educating the public; there are many educational television stations that you could learn from, like National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, and the History Channel, to name a few. The internet also plays an essential role in educating the general public. With the information on the internet, one could learn anything from something as simple as how to tie a tie, to the more complex like how to build a computer. Functions of Mass Media
We know that mass communication is a process of disseminating messages to the large number of audiences through some forms of technology. Some forms of technology, here refers, to the mass media.
Mass media are the means of public communication reaching to the large, scattered, heterogeneous and anonymous audience at the same time. Mass media have been proved a boon to human society. Nothing has influenced the lives of modern men as the mass media have. Mass media are the powerful means that do not only influence today’s world but also shape the globe of tomorrow. In this case, mass medium perform essential task in order to cast its effect to the audience and maintain the society. Many scholars have argued different functions of mass media. Even so, we can classify the functions of mass media into two categories: general functions and specific functions.
Under the general functions of mass media, following points are incorporated.
a. Information: Dissemination of information is the major function of mass media. Since information is knowledge and knowledge is power, media offer authentic and timely facts and opinions about various event and situations to mass audience as informative items. Information provided by mass media can be opinionated, objective, subjective, primary and secondary. Informative functions of mass media also lets the audience knows about the happening around them and come to the truth. Media disseminates information mostly through news broadcast on radio, TV, as well as columns of the newspaper or magazines. Moreover, advertisements are also mainly for information purpose.
b. Education: Media provide education and information side by side. It provides education in different subjects to people of all levels. They try to educate people directly or indirectly using different forms of content. Distance education program, for example, is a direct approach. Dramas, documentaries, interviews, feature stories and many other programs are prepared to educate people indirectly. Especially in the developing country, mass media is used as effective tools for mass awareness. In context of Nepal, media have been successful in eradicating various traditional and evil superstitious practices from society through continuous advocacy.
c. Entertainment: تسلية The other important function of mass media is the entertainment. It is also views as the most obvious function of media. Actually, entertainment is a kind of performance that provides pleasure to people. Mass media fulfill this function by providing amusement and assist in reducing tension to large degree. Newspaper and magazines, radio, television and online medium offer stories, films, serials, and comics to entertain their audience. Sports, news, film review, columns on art and fashion are other instances. It makes audience recreational and leisure time more enjoyable. But these days, media have comprised information and education in the entertaining programs. The fusion of entertainment and information is called infotainment. Similarly, the inclusion of education in entertaining programs is regarded as edutainment.
d. Persuasion: لإقناع: It is another function of mass media. Persuasion involves making influence on others mind. Mass media influence audience in varieties of ways. Media content builds opinions and sets agendas in the public mind. It influences votes, changes attitudes and moderates behavior. Using editorials, articles, commentaries and among others, mass media persuades audience. However, all audiences are not well known about it. Many of them become influenced or motivated unknowingly towards it. Advertisement is the example which is designed to persuade. Along with the above mentioned general functions, mass media performs some specific functions too. Hence, the specific functions of mass media are explained below:
1a. Surveillance: مراقبة Surveillance denotes observation. Here observation means to watch the society closely. The function of mass media is to observe the society closely and continuously and warn about threatening actions to the mass audience that are likely to happen in future in order to decrease the possible loss. Likewise, mass media also informs about the misconducts happening in the society to the concerned authority and discourage malpractices among mass audience in the society. Warning or beware surveillance occurs when the media inform us about threats from hurricanes, erupting volcanoes, depressed economic conditions, increasing inflation or military attack. These warning can be about immediate threats or chronic threats. Similarly, news of increasing deforestation, drug abuse, girls trafficking, crimes etc. are also disseminated which may harm the peace and security of the society. News about films are plying at the local theaters, stock market prices, new products, fashion ideas, recipes, and so on are examples of instrumental surveillance.
2b. Interpretation: التفسير:The mass media do not supply just facts and data but also explanations and interpretation of events and situations. Media offer various explanations correlating and interpreting information to make the reality clear. Unlike normal reporting, interpretation functions provide knowledge. News analysis, commentaries, editorials, and columns are some examples of interpretative contents. Basically, such types of interpretative contents are prepared by those journalists who have a vast knowledge of background information and strong analytical ability.
3c. Linkage: الربط: The function of mass media is to join together different elements of society that are not directly connected. For instance: mass advertising attempts to link the needs of buyers with the products of sellers. Similarly, by broadcasting news of those suffered from the disease or natural disasters, media can help in collecting aids and provide the collected amount to the victims. In this way, media become bridge between different groups who may or may not have direct connection.
4d. Socialization: التنشئة الاجتماعية:Socialization is the transmission of culture. Media are the reflectors of society. They socialize people, especially children and new-comers. Socialization is a process by which, people are made to behave in ways that are acceptable in their culture or society. Though this process, we learn how to become a member of our society or human society in greater sense. Whenever a person reads newspaper or watches television, individual knows how people react on matters and what types of norms and values they perceive on particular event, issue or situation.
Though the process of socialization media help to shape our behaviors, conducts, attitudes and beliefs. The process of socialization brings people close and ties them into single unity.