This article provides information about the evolution of Mass media:
The history of human communication and the development of speech can be viewed as one of the defining characteristics in the transition to human civilisation. The use of pictures and writing allowed communication to move beyond the face-to-face requirements of direct speech and facilitated the development of trade and monetary exchange across large distances.
The invention of printing in fifteenth century and the rapid spread of the art of printing marked the period of profound, even revolutionary change in the medium of communication around the world. Printing technology was designed for reproducing alphabetic systems. The first printed pages appeared more than 500 years ago… since then, the media has been delivering information, entertainment educative materials etc.
For centuries civilisations have used print media to spread news and information to the masses. During this period printing was the dominant information transfer medium, and for much of that time was unchallenged and so also further development of the technology was slow. Mechanical power was applied to the printing press in the 19th century and the mechanical systems entirely displaced typesetting by hand. In 20th century dramatic developments have taken place in mass media. The mechanical system was replaced by the electronic type-setting and in the contemporary period the most advanced the digital typesetting.
By the middle of the 19th century, newspapers became the primary means of disseminating and receiving information. The invention of the telegraph in 1844 transformed print media. The new technology enabled the transformation of information within a matter of minutes, allowing more timely, relevant reporting. During this period newspapers were appearing in societies around the world. Broadcast radio exploded onto the media scene in the 1920s.
The introduction of technologies of “mechanical reproduction” such as phonograph, photography and cinema created new opportunities for disseminating images to wider audiences with increased power and immediacy the inventions of telephony, radio and television have been even more significant in compressing time and space in communicating information to larger masses.
The invention of recording and the development of telegraphy and wireless gave a vast great significance to oral communications. The invention of telephone was a great advance on telegraph, which allowed direct spoken communication. Wireless broadcasting was a great contributor to the further development of oral communications from one person to another.
Different from telephone, which can be used for communication from one person to another, this could be used for communication from one person’ to many people provided that all of the would-be recipients of the signal had appropriate equipment on which to receive it. Wireless broadcasting of both speech and music was established in many part of the world by the first half of the 20th century and it was rapidly becoming an integral part of daily life.
This gave a challenge to print in many fronts. The broadcasters could at the same time beat the printed newspapers in the immediacy of their coverage and occupy the leisure time that might otherwise have been devoted to reading books. The term mass media was coined around 1920s with the advent of nationwide radio networks and of mass-circulation newspapers and magazines.
The mass-media audience has been viewed as forming a mass society with special characteristics, notably atomization or lack of social connections, which render it especially susceptible to the influence of modern mass-media techniques such as advertising and propaganda.
The other great popular medium of mass communication during this period was cinema. Film was one of the most potent mechanisms for propaganda in the 1930s and around World War II around the globe. The new media’s of both broadcasting and cinema began to undermine the primacy of print by 1930s. Although influential, sound broadcasting and the cinema had their limitations.
The former made its impact being instantaneous the later did so by its use of powerful visual images, emotive music, and evocation of life style far beyond the reach of vast majority of its audience. Television greatest of mass media did both. From very tentative beginnings in 1936, television became, within little more than 30 years, the most universal and most powerful medium of communication and information ever invented.
It was at once domestic, universal, instantaneous and ubiquitous. Like radio and cinema, television broadcasting also needed a complex and costly infrastructure, although in real terms the cost began to fall in 1980s as new miniaturised and digital technologies became widely available. Due to the rapidity and pervasiveness of television as communication medium very soon after its appearance in historical scene it became synonymous to mass media.
The technological revolution of today is creating new challenges and opportunities for traditional media. Never before has so much information been so accessible to so many. The amount and immediacy of information in the latest mass mediums are unparalleled. But it has not signaled the end of the traditional mediums. Newspapers in print remain a popular and powerful medium for the reporting and analysis of events that shape our lives.
Taken together, the mass media of 20th century have enriched and enhanced the lives of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Despite the apprehensions of the moralists and the governments and the complaints of partially displaced cultural elite, mass media like radio, cinema and above all television have given more access to more information to more people than at any time in the history.
The current process of globalisation which gained an accelerated pace in 1970s and afterword’s with the rapid changes in the technological and other developments had its impact on the mass media of communication also. The emergence of Internet as a networked communication and other technological advancements provided a new paradigm to mass media.