Mass media has coexisted with Homo sapiens since the brink of time as its history stretches back beyond the dawns of recorded history to the individual who then wanted to reach out to a larger group of audience through any form of communication, regardless a painting on the wall of a cave, or just by telling a story to a group of people. History of mass media can be traced back to the early days of dramas that were performed in various cultures. The word “media” was first mentioned in the 1920s, but back then, it referred to something that had its origin much further in the past and the term Mass Media originated with the print media that was also its first example. The first newspaper was printed in China 868 A.D, but due to the high cost of paper and illiteracy amongst people, it didn’t prosper. It was Johannes Gutenberg, who for the first time printed a book in a printing press in 1453. However, the invention of printing press in the late 15th century gave rise to the first forms of mass communication, enabling publication of books and newspapers on a larger scale than previously possible. According to Wikipedia, mass media refers collectively to all media technologies, including the Internet, television, newspapers and radio, which are used for mass communications, and to organizations which control these technologies.
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Over the years, during the period post-Second World War, radio, television and video were introduced. The audio-visual facilities became immensely popular as they provided information and entertainment. Of late, it is the Internet which has become the latest and most dominant of all the mass media. Here, information is been generated through various websites and search engines. One can play games, listen to radio while working and chat with friends and relatives, irrespective of location. It also gives information on various topics such as literature, politics, science, sports, fashion, movies, education, career, jobs etc. similar to other types of mass media. Indubitably, one of the biggest influences in our modern lives today, is the force of mass media. Without this medium of communication, our way of live and our civilization would be much more backward than where we are today. We humans are still immature as we definitely have a lot of growing up to do as a race, and mass media is a tool that is supposed to aid us in achieving the aim of fulfillment.
Mass media comprises of two parts; print media and the broadcast or also known as electronic media. The print media refers primarily to newspapers and magazines. Radio, television and the Internet constitute the broadcast media. Mass media is simply a section of the media that spreads to a large audience simultaneously, through various types of media. The simplest way to understand what mass media is about is to take a look at newspapers. The first high-circulation newspapers arose in the eastern United States in the early 1800s, and were made possible by the invention of high-speed rotary steam printing presses and railroads which allowed large-scale distribution over wide geographical areas. However, mass production of newspapers had a downfall. The increased rate of circulation led to deteriorate in feedback and interactivity from the readers, which made newspapers a one-way medium.
Newspapers first appeared in Europe in the mid-17th century. They evolved gradually from a similar type of publication called broadsheet – a single sheet of paper that responded to unusual events. Although newspapers of today and those in the past are quite similar in almost every aspect, newspapers and their content have changed over time. Newspapers in different communities often contain dissimilar contents. The future for newspaper industries seems to fade over time as people look to the Internet for news and young people turn away from papers, paid-for circulations are falling year after year. Papers are also losing their share of advertising spending. Classified advertising is quickly moving online.
Inevitably, the newspaper industries which was once experienced explosive growth now faces cyclical trough as new technology such as the existence of e-book has rendered obsolete newspapers in their traditional format. Revenue has plummeted since fierce competition from internet media has squeezed older print publishers. The number of people reading newspapers and magazine has decreased over the years, and polls indicate that the public has more confidence in the accuracy of stories aired on television than in the papers. On the other hand, those who get their news from the print media are better informed.
On the bright side, reading newspapers has a lower impact on global warming than reading online. This is so because the impact from powering a computer itself outweighs the impact from creating newsprint. According to Torraspapel’s Paper, “Reading a newspaper generates lower impact on global warming than reading the news online for 30 minutes.” Most newspapers today focus on local coverage. There are only a few that cover national issues in depth, and whose editorials can influence national policy. How important the print media is to the individual is subject to debate, however.
Magazines, on the other hand, were known to exist since the 1700s in which it resembled books. Based on historical research, the first magazine ever produced was called ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine’, released in January, 1731 by well-known writer of his prime, Edward Cave. The main idea of Edward was to compile a monthly issue of news and commentary on topics the public were interested in. The difference between magazines and newspapers is that magazine has a relaxed style of writing, while giving and sharing opinions in a magazine is encouraged. However, newspapers during that era were more fixed and straight-to-the-point, following strictly to collected data and statistics.
Magazines from the past have a similar purpose to newspapers, criticizing organizations. For instance, Daniel Defoe’s first English magazine, ‘The Review’ was published to criticize the Catholic Churches of England. The magazine was also released during the 1700s but published magazines then only lasted for a few months as publishers are geographically limited and the cost of magazine printing is very expensive. More than five decades after magazines were introduced, mass circulation was made possible. Magazines which was once only affordable by the buying elite, now available for the working class as well, and the subject matter had shifted mostly to entertainment sake as well.
Magazines are now very affordable to the public. This was made possible by the lesser cost in printing and a bulk of the cost is also reduced due to the many advertisers that the magazines have. This is why that it is in magazines that advertising went full-blast. They can secure one whole page for their products in colored form unlike that in newspaper. Admittedly, this can cost more than the dailies but the potential buyer would be enticed more about the product as the ad would be more attractive in color. Nevertheless, from there, the concept of magazines expanded to various interests, ranging from sports to entertainment, general knowledge and more during today’s popular culture.
Magazines have a more casual style of reading as literary freedom is practiced. With this, venturing into each interests or fields is easier and more fun as magazine writers have freedom to express their ideas on the subject, as collected data comes second in magazine writing. Today, magazines can be found in almost every newsstand, divided into categories; some of them include IT, fashion and family. Successful magazines include ‘Reader’s Digest’, ‘National Geographic’ and ‘People’s Magazine’ which are also placed in the Top 10 most subscribed magazines in the world. Readers can now also choose from the subscription options that publishing companies offer their customers. They can choose to be subscribed on a daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annually or annually on their magazine of choice. It is also great for short reading for its articles would not really be so mind-boggling but not that shallow either.
This is why a lot of readers prefer magazine as well because they are not intimidated by the number of pages within, and they can stop at one article anytime they like and read the other articles any time they want. Book reading gives a much more different experience in which if you stopped at a section, you have to read the rest immediately if you don’t want to risk losing yourself or being confused with the story. Magazines really had gone a long way since then as it already evolved itself in just less than three centuries and it was able to stand on its own with its own share of loyal followers. It is already an industry on its own and the evolution doesn’t stop there. Magazines would still evolve and change but rest assured that its followers would be with them all the way.
Commercial radio first began to broadcast in 1920, and got into politics very quickly carrying the results of that year’s presidential election. The 32nd President of the United States, President Franklin Roosevelt effectively used radio to communicate directly with the American people through his “fireside chats” during the worst days of the Depression. Radios are the earliest form of televisions, developed over 80 years ago when wireless communication was never a thought even in the most brilliant scientists’ minds. It was until the late nineteenth century that James Clerk Maxwell developed the first radio-wave theorem in 1864. Mathematically, he proved that if an electrical interruption is of short distance from the point at which it occurred, there would be effect or passage of electrical current due to a type of wave that moves at the speed of light, in which the electromagnetic energy would travel.
Heinrich Hertz experimented with Maxwell’s thesis in 1888 and demonstrated that waves travelled in straight lines and could be reflected by a metal sheet. Augusto Righi, an Italian physicist, continued and refined Hertz’s work, establishing the equality between electrical and optical vibrations. Another scientist, Temistocle Calzecchi-Onesti, constructed, in 1888, a tube due to his belief that electrical discharges of atmospheric perturbations influence iron filings. In 1894, Oliver Lodge named Temistocle’s famous tube the “coherer” and increased the reception gain of the hertzian waves. Alexander Popoff then created a vertical metal pole by using Lodge’s coherer and collecting atmospheric disturbances in a rudimentary antenna.
The invention of these instruments helped Guglielmo Marconi’s discovery who verified that electromagnetic waves travel between two points separated by an obstacle which led to the creation of the first radio transmitter. This experiment was repeated with larger spark gaps starting with 5 feet; expanded up to 100km and radiotelegraphy was born. The first radio station began operation in the 1920’s. The broadcasting radio station was KDKA in Pittsburgh. This service became very popular and soon the concept spread around the globe. Early uses of radios were maritime, for sending telegraphic messages using Morse code between ships and land.
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Radios were used to pass on orders and to communicate between armies and navies on both sides in World War I. Germany used radio communications for diplomatic messages once it discovered British had tapped its submarine cables. Besides broadcasting purposes, point-to-point broadcasting, including telephone messages and relays of radio programs became common in the 1920s and the 1930s. In the pre-war years, radios were the development of detection and locating aircrafts and ships by radars. As time progressed, so did the development of radio. Today, the concepts used in radios are also used in many modern devices that are now essential to our modern lives.
Inventions of radios ultimately lead to telephony (Mobile phones), videos (Television sends the picture as AM and the sound as AM or FM, with the sound carrier a fixed frequency), satellite navigation systems (Satellites with precision clocks, the satellite then transmits its position, and the time of the transmission, the receiver listens to four satellites, and can figure its position as being on a line that is tangent to a spherical shell around each satellite, determined by the time-of-flight of the radio signals from the satellite. A computer in the receiver does the math), radars (Detects objects at a distance by bouncing radio waves off them. The delay caused by the echo measures the distance and the direction of the beam determines the direction of the reflection), radio remote control (Radio remote controls use radio waves to transmit control data to a remote object as in some early forms of guided missile, some early TV remotes and a range of model boats, cars and airplanes while large industrial remote-controlled equipment such as cranes and switching locomotives now usually use digital radio techniques to ensure safety and reliability), heating (Radio-frequency energy generated for heating of objects is generally not intended to radiate outside of the generating equipment, to prevent interference with other radio signals. Microwave ovens use intense radio waves to heat food. Diathermy equipment is used in surgery for sealing of blood vessels. Induction furnaces are used for melting metal for casting, and induction hobs for cooking), and even radio services.
Radio became the dominant form of media during and after World War II, as it could provide war information much faster than newspapers, and people desired current news of the war situation and of their relatives fighting overseas. However newspapers still supplied daily information and advertising. Radio’s importance as a news and information source declined however with the introduction of television in the late 1940s. Television dominated the media industry in 1950s. Radio and print media was to compete with television that seemed to give the best of both media: pictures and sound. With the advent of television in the 1950s, print media and radio were forced to rethink their approaches towards news and entertainment.
The new media changed the nature of running for the United States presidential office, the first campaign ads for a presidential candidate appeared on television in 1952 and the first presidential debate was aired in 1960 between Senator John Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. The television however was not invented by a single inventor, instead by many who contributed to the evolution of television. It was Joseph Henry’s and Michael Faraday’s work with electromagnetism in 1831 that jumpstarted the evolution of electronic communication. In 1862, the very first still image was transferred over wires by Abbe Giovanna Caselli, the first person to accomplish such feat in the history of mankind using his brilliant invention, the Pantelegraph. Scientists May and Smith then experimented with selenium and light, which eventually revealed the possibility of transforming images into electronic signals in 1873. Boston civil servant George Carey thought about complete television systems and in 1877 he put forward drawings for what he called a selenium camera that would allow people to see by electricity.
By 1880, great inventors, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison theorize about telephone devices that were capable of transmitting images as well as sounds. Alexander invented the photophone, a device that used light to transmit sounds but he wanted to advance his device for image sending. Four years later, Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, first to engineer a rotating-disc technology that was able to transmit pictures over wire, making Paul Nipkow the father of mechanical televisions. He was the first human ever to discover television’s scanning principle, in which light intensities of small portions of an image are analyzed and transmitted, making Paul Nipkow the forerunner of televisions. At the World’s Fair in Paris, the first International Congress of Electricity was held. That is where Russian Constantin Perskyi made the first known use of the word “television.”
At the dawn of the 20th century, the momentum of ideas and discussions shifted to physical development of television systems. Inventors around the globe attempted to build mechanical television systems based on Paul Nipkow’s rotating disks and electronic television systems based on cathode ray tubules developed independently in the 1907 by English inventor Alan Archibald Campbell Swinton and Russian scientist, Boris Rosing. Electronic television systems lagged behind mechanical systems for several years as mechanical television was cheaper to build and delicate parts was not used. Besides, it was difficult to get financial backing to develop electronic television when mechanical television worked so much better at that time and with a cheaper working system, the public didn’t see the need to change. However, Vladmir Kosmo Zworykin and Philo Taylor Farnsworth made some critical breakthrough, and electronic televisions began to catch up. Electronic television systems eventually replaced mechanical systems.
Peter Goldmark, working for Columbia Broadcast System, demonstrated color television to the Federal Communication Commision in 1946. His system produced color pictures from a red-blue-green wheel spin in front of a cathode ray tube. Cable television, formerly known as Community Antenna Television or CATV, was born in the mountains of Pennsylvania in the late 1940’s. The first successful color television system began commercial broadcasting on December 17, 1953 based on a system designed by Radio Corporation of America. On June of 1956, practical television remote controller first entered the homes of Americans. The Germans however used remote control motorboats during World War I. In the late 1940’s, the first non-military uses for remote controls appeared.
The very first prototype for a plasma display monitor was invented in July 1964 at the University of Illinois by professors Donald Bitzer and Gene Slottow, and then graduate student Robert Willson. However, it was not until after the advent of digital and other technologies that successful plasma televisions became possible. There was an explosive growth of the media in the 1980s, especially television. Satellite television reported events across the world live. With competition from 24-hour cable television news, many newspapers disappeared. Cable news and subscription cable television also rose in popularity, competing with network television.
According to a Media Research in May 1994, 98 percent of all American houses has at least one TV set. 63 percent received at least basic cable. It is estimated that the average American spends 20-25% of his or her time with the television on. According to a Newsweek article on June 7 1999, the United States is the largest exporter of television programs and American movies are in prime time television all over the world. However, the Europeans are now making more of their own shows and sitcoms that have more local flavour. As in the 80s, parents continue to question the appropriateness and value of media programming for children of different ages.
As the 20th century was coming to an end, a new media was born – the Internet. It links people together through their computer terminals with modems connected to telephone lines and with the Internet electronic publishing and chat rooms sprang up, allowing individuals to express their opinions freely to a large global audience, giving printed media a challenge to survive. With minimal technical information, any individual will be capable of commenting personal views on air without the huge expense as of in traditional publishing. The Internet also gave advertising a whole new platform to promote their products and delivering their message.
The future of mass media is yet to be unknown as there are possibilities of new medium yet to be invented and because of the widespread distribution of cellphones and the Internet, it is easy to forget that both technologies are at their immature stage. However, it is unlikely that we, as of living in this society are able to focus on the lens of history with clarity upon what these technologies have or might have effect upon us in the future. Mass communication is truly the mass power to shape the future of human culture as communication is culture and since humans are searching for new forms of communication, indubitably, we are indirectly looking at new forms of utilizing power, new forms of controlling individuals and new forms of shaping the human culture to come.
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