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What Is Mass Media? - Definition, Types, Influence & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Mass Media?
  • 0:55 Types of Mass Media
  • 2:10 The Influence of Mass Media
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Steven Coleman

Steven has his Bachelors in Communication and has earned his Masters in Education. He is also in the process of pursuing his Doctorate degree.

Mass media is the means used to communicate to the general public. In this lesson, you will learn the different platforms for mass media and the influence that mass media has on society.

What Is Mass Media?

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 on your television, radio, or computer. The source that the majority of the general public uses to get their news and information from is considered mass media.

Mass media means technology that is intended to reach a mass audience. It 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; educational programs exist on channels such as PBS. 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.

The mass media also has an influence on popular culture; the mass media is responsible for conveying what's trendy in popular culture to the general public. The mass media conveys what is cool in fashion, entertainment, and technology. A few examples of stylish brands would be Nike and Apple; these brands are consumed at a much higher rate by the public than their competitors.

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