Mass media

The mass media is a diversified collection of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets.

Broadcast media transmit information electronically, via such media as film, radio, recorded music, or television. Digital media comprises both Internet and mobile mass communication. Internet media comprise such services as email, social media sites, websites, and Internet-based radio and television. Many other mass media outlets have an additional presence on the web, by such means as linking to or running TV ads online, or distributing QR Codes in outdoor or print media to direct mobile users to a website. In this way, they can utilise the easy accessibility and outreach capabilities the Internet affords, as thereby easily broadcast information throughout many different regions of the world simultaneously and cost-efficiently. Outdoor media transmit information via such media as AR advertising; billboards; blimps; flying billboards (signs in tow of airplanes); placards or kiosks placed inside and outside buses, commercial buildings, shops, sports stadiums, subway cars, or trains; signs; or skywriting.[1] Print media transmit information via physical objects, such as books, comics, magazines, newspapers, or pamphlets.[2] Event organizing and public speaking can also be considered forms of mass media.[3]

The organizations that control these technologies, such as movie studios, publishing companies, and radio and television stations, are also known as the mass media.[4][5][need quotation to verify]

Issues with definition

In the late 20th century, mass media could be classified into eight mass media industries: books, the Internet, magazines, movies, newspapers, radio, recordings, and television. The explosion of digital communication technology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries made prominent the question: what forms of media should be classified as "mass media"? For example, it is controversial whether to include cell phones, computer games (such as MMORPGs), and video games in the definition. In the 2000s, a classification called the " seven mass media" became popular.[citation needed] In order of introduction, they are:

  1. Print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc.) from the late 15th century
  2. Recordings (gramophone records, magnetic tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CDs, and DVDs) from the late 19th century
  3. Cinema from about 1900
  4. Radio from about 1910
  5. Television from about 1950
  6. Internet from about 1990
  7. Mobile phones from about 2000

Each mass medium has its own content types, creative artists, technicians, and business models. For example, the Internet includes blogs, podcasts, web sites, and various other technologies built atop the general distribution network. The sixth and seventh media, Internet and mobile phones, are often referred to collectively as digital media; and the fourth and fifth, radio and TV, as broadcast media. Some argue that video games have developed into a distinct mass form of media.[6]

While a telephone is a two-way communication device, mass media communicates to a large group. In addition, the telephone has transformed into a cell phone which is equipped with Internet access. A question arises whether this makes cell phones a mass medium or simply a device used to access a mass medium (the Internet). There is currently a system by which marketers and advertisers are able to tap into satellites, and broadcast commercials and advertisements directly to cell phones, unsolicited by the phone's user.[citation needed] This transmission of mass advertising to millions of people is another form of mass communication.

Video games may also be evolving into a mass medium. Video games (for example massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), such as RuneScape) provide a common gaming experience to millions of users across the globe and convey the same messages and ideologies to all their users. Users sometimes share the experience with one another by playing online. Excluding the Internet however, it is questionable whether players of video games are sharing a common experience when they play the game individually. It is possible to discuss in great detail the events of a video game with a friend one has never played with, because the experience is identical to each. The question, then, is whether this is a form of mass communication.[citation needed]


Five characteristics of mass communication have been identified by sociologist John Thompson of Cambridge University:[7]

  • "[C]omprises both technical and institutional methods of production and distribution" – This is evident throughout the history of mass media, from print to the Internet, each suitable for commercial utility
  • Involves the "commodification of symbolic forms" – as the production of materials relies on its ability to manufacture and sell large quantities of the work; as radio stations rely on their time sold to advertisements, so too newspapers rely on their space for the same reasons
  • "[S]eparate contexts between the production and reception of information"
  • Its "reach to those 'far removed' in time and space, in comparison to the producers"
  • "[I]nformation distribution" – a "one to many" form of communication, whereby products are mass-produced and disseminated to a great quantity of audiences

Mass vs. mainstream and alternative

The term "mass media" is sometimes erroneously used as a synonym for "mainstream media". Mainstream media are distinguished from alternative media by their content and point of view. Alternative media are also "mass media" outlets in the sense that they use technology capable of reaching many people, even if the audience is often smaller than the mainstream.

In common usage, the term "mass" denotes not that a given number of individuals receives the products, but rather that the products are available in principle to a plurality of recipients.[7]

Mass vs. local and speciality

Mass media are distinguished from local media by the notion that whilst mass media aims to reach a very large market, such as the entire population of a country, local media broadcasts to a much smaller population and area, and generally focuses on regional news rather than global events. A third type of media, speciality media, provide for specific demographics, such as specialty channels on TV (sports channels, porn channels, etc.). These definitions are not set in stone, and it is possible for a media outlet to be promoted in status from a local media outlet to a global media outlet. Some local media, which take an interest in state or provincial news, can rise to prominence because of their investigative journalism, and to the local region's preference of updates in national politics rather than regional news. The Guardian, formerly known as the Manchester Guardian, is an example of one such media outlet; once a regional daily newspaper, The Guardian is currently a nationally respected paper.[8]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Massamedia
Alemannisch: Massenmedien
العربية: إعلام
বাংলা: গণমাধ্যম
Bân-lâm-gú: Tōa-chong mûi-thé
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сродкі масавай інфармацыі
Boarisch: Massnmedia
bosanski: Mediji
brezhoneg: Mediaoù
čeština: Média
dansk: Massemedie
Deutsch: Massenmedien
Esperanto: Amaskomunikilo
euskara: Hedabide
føroyskt: Fjølmiðlar
français: Médias de masse
Frysk: Media
한국어: 대중 매체
hrvatski: Masovni mediji
Bahasa Indonesia: Media massa
íslenska: Fjölmiðill
Basa Jawa: Médhia massa
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಮಾಧ್ಯಮ
kurdî: Çapemenî
latgaļu: Viesteitivi
lietuvių: Žiniasklaida
Limburgs: Massamedia
magyar: Tömegmédia
македонски: Масовни медиуми
Bahasa Melayu: Media massa
Mirandés: Mass média
नेपाल भाषा: मास मिदिया
Napulitano: Media
norsk nynorsk: Media
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Ommaviy axborot vositalari
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਜਨ-ਸੰਚਾਰ
پنجابی: ماس میڈیا
Patois: Mas Miidia
română: Mass-media
русиньскый: Медія
Scots: Mass media
shqip: Masmedia
sicilianu: Mass Midia
Simple English: Mass media
slovenčina: Masmédium
slovenščina: Množično občilo
српски / srpski: Мас-медији
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Masovni mediji
Basa Sunda: Pérs
svenska: Massmedium
Türkçe: Basın-yayın
Winaray: Medya panmasa
吴语: 大众媒体
Xitsonga: Ta mahungu
ייִדיש: מאסן מעדיע
粵語: 大眾傳媒
中文: 大眾媒體