The world we live in now is a world of mass communication. Today we have access to more information than was ever possible before, thanks to radio, television, newspapers, and the internet. You can sum up all these means of gathering information in one word: Media. The means of instant communication for hundreds of millions of people every day, hour, and minute.
Where else would you find the latest international news, financial information, or weather with the click of a mouse, touch of a remote control, or turning on of a radio? Media makes possible the means to be informed of who, what, where, and how is going on that instant. Even if you wanted to, its not possible in the world today to flee from information. Anywhere you go, its there. You just have to reach out and make the most of its potential in your life. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What exactly are these means of receiving information?”.
The answer is what this essay is dedicated to. Like the theme song from “Diff’rent Strokes” said: “It takes diff’rent strokes to move the world.”. TelevisionOne of the largest contributors to mass communication is television, or better known as TV. About 97% of the United States has at least one TV in their home. At least 60% have two or more.
This is a incredible way to reach millions of at one time. Examples of this includes Pres. Clinton’s grand jury testimony, nightly news, and the Gulf and Vietnam Wars.
Without TV, we would still be able to learn about these events, but not in the same clarity or context we are able to with it. On TV you can find anything that you may want to watch or learn. Sex. News. Government. Family. Drugs.
International affairs. Its all on the TV for you to research, examine, and use.The history of TV shows it hasn’t always been this way. The name television comes from a Greek word meaning far and a Latin word meaning to see. Thus, television means literally “to see far”. Many scientists helped the development of TV, and no one person can be called its inventor. Experiments began with TV in the 1800’s, however, progress was slow, and broadcasting as we know it didn’t begin until the 1920’s.
The BBC, CBS, and NBC were the leaders in this time of development. Unfortunately, WW 2 caused TV production to be dropped until after the war was over. But in 1951, TV stations sprang up all over the country. Americans became fascinated with the prospect of so many visual events in their homes.
The demand for TV’s became enormous. By the 60’s , the amount of TV’s in the US rose by over 600%. Today, the populous in the US as a near whole has at least one way of watching this broadcasting phenomenon. Radio One of the lesser talked about means of gathering information in this age of computers and big screen TV’s is radio.
Still a major factor in mass communications after 103 years, radio can still inform the masses when other means of communication is down from power outages resulting from storms and other catastrophes. However, like television, almost 90% of radio is reserved for entertainment. The other 10% is to provide some form of communication. On the other hand, radio is invaluable as a means of two-way communication. Without it, police, air pilots, ships, military, and civilians would all have to rely on different means to talk to one another. Radio as a means of entertainment exploded in 1925, and lasted until the early 1950’s, when TV started to take over. This period is often referred to as The Golden Age of Broadcasting.
During this time, whole families would gather around the radio to listen to their favorite program. Children hurried home from school to hear programs specially designed for them. During the daytime, millions of women would listen to dramas called soap operas, because soap manufacturers sponsored the majority of them.
Even though it is mostly used for entertainment, radio is still a great way to get news. The reason being is that you don’t have to be at your TV or computer to hear information. You can listen anytime, while driving, cooking, or exercising.
This is one of the reasons the author thinks it has survived and is still popular, despite its two-way value.Newspapers Newspapers have certain advantages over other major news media-television, radio, and newsmagazines. For example, newspapers can cover more news, and in much greater detail, than can television and radio newscasts. Newsmagazines concentrate on the chief national and international events of the preceding week. But daily newspapers report local as well as national and international news-and on a day to day basis too. The US has about 1,700 daily and 7,500 weekly and semiweekly newspapers.
The amount of circulation of these range from a few hundred copies per issue for some weeklies to more than a million copies for the largest dailies. The total amount of daily of daily papers in the US exceeds 60 million copies. This may not seem that large of a number when you compare it to the amount of TV’s in the US, but people tend to be a little more eager to share a paper than a TV or radio. How many times have you taken a paper from a restaurant or place of waiting? How many times have you shared a paper with a stranger at a bus stop or on a train? A lot more than you would share a TV of yours with, that is for sure.The first newspapers were handwritten notes posted in public places, almost like a advertisement of the times for the day. The earliest known daily newssheet was the Acta Diurna (Daily Events), which was published in Rome in 59 BC. The worlds first printed newspaper was a Chinese circular called Dibao.
The Chinese began printing began printing their publication from carved wooden blocks during the AD 700’s. Now, just stop and think for a minute how painstaking that must have been. As difficult as that must have been, their quest for knowledge was the driving force behind that meticulous task. The first regularly published paper in Europe, Avisa Relation oder Zeitung, started in Germany in 1609.
In 1704, John Campbell established The Boston News-Letter, the colonies’ first regularly published newspaper. By 1765, the colonies had more than 30 papers. Newspapers in the US developed rapidly in the 1800’s. However, at 6 cents a copy, they were more than the working class could afford.
Then in 1833, Benjamin H. Day started the New York Sun, the first of many successful penny papers. During this time, the newspapers would compete to see who could report the most sensational crimes, disasters, and scandals. The number of US newspapers peaked in 1909, when the country had about 2,600 dailies and about 14,000 weeklies. However, high operating expenses, especially the rising cost of labor and newsprint, has dropped the amount of papers available to the number today. Another contributing factor to the fall of the number of papers is television.
You have to admit, sitting down and watching the TV is allot more interesting to some than reading the paper. Many people, young and old, seem to feel this way. Still, papers not only contribute to the communication of the free world (as a edited paper could only give you news that the government wants you to hear), they have also speeded the development of mankind’s mind and knowledge. Now that you’ve looked at some of the ways of mass communications- and their history, you need to realize that media is a tool, just like a hammer, screwdriver, or monkey wrench. Now, as you may know, tools can either be used constructively, or destructively. Its how you choose to use them that effects the outcome. As media is such a tool, sometimes we have to be careful how we use it.
But, how can we do this without violating our free speech rights? That is a question that as of right now is impossible to answer. What may be a normal, everyday task to you will be sinful, highly offensive, even sacrilegious to someone else, thus resulting in a resounding discord among the masses. Unless humanity became a total group mind, each working in perfect harmony with one another (which such a impossibility that it boggles the mind to think about it), we will never agree on anything. So, how does mass communications benefit this race of disagreeable beings? Instead of listing the advantages, which would take far too long, here’s some of the disadvantages:Instant transportation back to the Dark Ages, when no one knew what was going on.
The exception here being kings and priests, and they still only knew what was going on locally. A general breakdown of today’s society, as we would not know how the relations with other nations or even ourselves were comingalong. Wars could be declared, and we wouldn’t know it till the first bombs fell (if the planes could get off the ground without crashing back down to Earth). And the list just goes on and on. There is no end to the benefits that mass communication has brought to us.
It would be devastating if by some catastrophe, the mass communication network was brought down. We absolutely cannot afford to not research this great benefit to mankind to it’s fullest potential, while being mindful of personal privacy and constraints. Thus said, realize that the next time you pick up a paper, watch TV, or listen to the radio, you’re really participating in the communication of knowledge to you, the nation, and the world.