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Mass Communication

Mass Communication

Mass communication is the process of exchanging information through mass media to large segments of the population. In other words, mass communication refers to imparting and exchanging information on a large scale to a wide range of people. It is usually understood for relating to various forms of media, as these technologies are used for the dissemination of information, of which journalism and advertising are part of. Mass communication differs from other forms of communication, such as interpersonal communication or organizational communication, because it focuses on particular resources transmitting information to numerous receivers. The study of mass communication is chiefly concerned with how the content of mass communication persuades or otherwise affects the behavior, the attitude, opinion, or emotion of the people receiving the information.

Normally, transmission of messages to many persons at a time is called mass communication.

But in a complete sense, mass communication can be defined as the process through which some information is circulated extensively among people nearby and also throughout far extending areas such as entire countries or the globe.

Through mass communication, information can be transmitted quickly to many people who generally stay far away from the sources of information.

Mass communication is being done through many mediums, such as radio, television, social networking, billboards, newspapers, magazines, film, and the Internet.

Field of study

Mass communication is "the process by which a person, group of people, or organization creates a message and transmits it through some type of medium to a large, anonymous, heterogeneous audience."[1] This implies that the audience of mass communication are mostly made up of different cultures, behavior and belief systems. Mass communication is regularly associated with media influence or media effects, and media studies. Mass communication is a branch of social science and a subfield of communication studies or communication.

The history of communication stretches from prehistoric forms of art and writing through modern communication methods such as the Internet. Mass communication began when humans could transmit messages from a single source to multiple receivers. Mass communication has moved from theories such as the hypodermic needle model (or magic bullet theory) through more modern theories such as computer-mediated communication.

In the United States, the study of mass communication is often associated with the practical applications of journalism (Print media), television and radio broadcasting, film, public relations, or advertising. With the diversification of media options, the study of communication has extended to include social media and new media, which have stronger feedback models than traditional media sources. While the field of mass communication is continually evolving, the following four fields are generally considered the major areas of study within mass communication. They exist in different forms and configurations at different schools or universities, but are (in some form) practiced at most institutions that study mass communication. Advertising, in relation to mass communication, refers to marketing a product or service in a persuasive manner that encourages the audience to buy the product or use the service. Because advertising generally takes place through some form of mass media, such as television, studying the effects and methods of advertising is relevant to the study of mass communication. Advertising is the paid, impersonal, one-way marketing of persuasive information from a sponsor. Through mass communication channels, the sponsor promotes the adoption of goods, services or ideas. Advertisers have full control of the message being sent to their audience.[2]

Characteristics or Features of Mass Communication Mass Communication has all the features of general communication.

In addition, it offers some unique characteristics because of its specialty in nature.

Large Number of Audience

The foremost feature of mass communication is that it has large number of audience.

No other communication gets as many receivers as it gets.

Heterogeneous Audience Mass Communication is not only composed of many audiences but is also aimed at a heterogeneous audience.

The heterogeneity here means that the audience may belong to different races, groups, section, cultures etc. Scattered Audience The audiences of Mass Communication are not organized in a certain area rather they are highly geographically scattered.

The receivers of message of mass communication may stay any place of the country and even any place of the world.

Wide Area The area of Mass Communication is wider than any other communication systems.

In case of mass communication system, the message is structured, formal and standardized and that’s why it has acceptance all over the world.

Use of Channel Mass Communication system uses various types of mass media channels such as-radio, television, newspapers, magazines etc. Use of Common Message Another unique characteristic of mass communication is that it sends the same message simultaneously to many audiences distant from each other.

If the audiences have the proper access to the media used by the sender they can easily get message wherever they stay in the world.

No Direct Feedback Mass Communication does not produce any direct feedback.

The reaction of audience cannot be known quickly here.

Outward Flow The flow of message in mass communication is outward, not inward.

The basic objective of mass communication is also to send message to the people outside the organization who say far away.

Use of Technology Mass Communication system uses modern technology in the process of production and dissemination of the message to be sent.

However due to the advent of new media mass communication which was once one-many is evolving to many-many and this is revolutionizing the mass media

Types of mass communication


Advertising, in relation to mass communication, is marketing a product or service in a persuasive manner that encourages the audience to buy the product or use the service. Because advertising generally takes place through some form of mass media, such as television, studying the effects and methods of advertising is relevant to the study of mass communication. Advertising is the paid, impersonal, one-way marketing of persuasive information from a sponsor. Through mass communication channels, the sponsor promotes the adoption of goods, services or ideas. Advertisers have full control of the message being sent to their audience.[2]


Journalism, is the collection, verification, presentation, and editing of news for presentation through the media, in this sense, refers to the study of the product and production of news. The study of journalism involves looking at how news is produced, and how it is disseminated to the public through mass media outlets such as newspapers, news channel, radio station, television station, and more recently, e-readers and smartphones. The information provided pertains to current events, trends, issues, and people.

Alternative Journalism deals more with objective reporting. It deviates from traditional and accepted sorts of media in ways of content, manufacture, and supply. Alternative Journalism conveys many structures of audio, internet, print, radio, etc. In addition to this, Alternative Journalism alludes to several methods of web-based sources of analytical news and radical news in the form of online news or a blog.[4]

Public Journalism, also referred to as civic journalism, mainly deals with the means of fusing journalism into the area of a democratic operation. The media tries in making sure to notify the public as much as possible while also making sure to absorb and engross the Public, making a full effort to attract the public.[4]

Citizen Journalism all based upon the public through their citizenship. It’s where public citizens play a primary role through the operation of accumulating, detailing, and examining certain types of information found in news. Citizen Journalism is a notion among public citizens playing their significant roles in circulating information in news. All there is to citizen journalism is that is deals with the distributing of news by affiliates of the public utilizing the internet to proliferate that information in news.[4]

Public relations

Public relations is the process of providing information to the public in order to present a specific view of a product or organization. Public relations differs from advertising in that it is less obtrusive, and aimed at providing a more comprehensive opinion to a large audience in order to shape public opinion. Unlike advertising, public relations professionals only have control until the message is related to media gatekeepers who decide where to pass the information on to the audience.[2]

Social Media

Social media, in its modern use, refers to platforms used on both mobile devices and home computers that allow users to interact through the use of words, images, sounds, and video.[4] Social media includes popular sites such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as sites that can aid in business networking such as LinkedIn.The use and importance of social media in communications and public relations has grown drastically throughout the years and is now a staple in advertisements to mass audiences. For many newer companies and businesses geared towards young people social media is a tool for advertising purposes and growing the brand. Social Media provides additional ways to connect and reach out to ones targeted audience.[6]

There are multiple social-networking sites that have the ability to visualize and share ones personal social life.

Even though the first social networking sites were created several years ago, the rise of both MySpace and Facebook took over and cancelled out the previous social media sites. Facebook has the ability for people to view your personal life with you posting picture, videos and updating your status. As of today Facebook is one of the most popular social media websites for multiple types of communication. Generally Facebook is used for communication with relatives and friends along with people who share interests.[7]

Social media have introduced new difficulties into relationships.

One way this has occurred is throughcatfishing.

The term catfish refers to a person who uses a false online profile on a social media platform. Most commonly, a catfish communicates with another online profile to get them to fall in love with the false persona they created. The MTV reality show Catfish: The TV Show has brought mainstream attention to this issue.[4] The goal of these episodes is to keep track of people who have fallen in love with someone they interacted with online, but never met in person. As catfishing has become a mainstream term, people have wondered how and why it continues to happen. Nev Schulman, host of the show, has said "I think people will always be looking to fall in love. People will always hope for things to get better. For better, or worse, there will always be people who may or may not look to take advantage of that." [8]

Audio Media

Recorded Music

Recordings, developed in the 1870s, became the first non-print form of mass communication.

The invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in the late 19th century, the graphophone by Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Tainter, and the gramophone by The Victor Talking Machine Company were the first competing mass media forms that brought recorded music to the masses.[4] Recording changed again in the 1950’s with the invention of the LP (long play) vinyl record, then eight track-tapes, followed by vinyl, and cassettes in 1965. Compact discs (CDs) followed and were seen as the biggest invention in recorded arts since Edison.[9]


Radio is considered the most widely accessible form of mass communication in the world and the medium used to greatest degree in the United States.[4]


Convergence refers to the coming together of telecommunications as forms of mass communication in a digital media environment.

There is no clear definition of Convergence and its effects.

However, it can be viewed through three lenses: technological convergence, cultural convergence, and economic convergence.[4] Technological convergence is the action of two or more media companies merging in a digital platform and can lead companies to develop new commodities or become part of new sectors and/or economies.[10] Cultural convergence deals with the blending of different beliefs, values, and traditions between groups of people and may occur through the globalization of content. Sex and the City, an American show set in New York City, was viewed internationally and became popular among female workers in Thailand.[4] A study on the consumption of YouTube, conducted by the Information Technology Department and Sociology Department at Cornell University, concluded that cultural convergence occurs more frequently in advanced cosmopolitan areas.[11]

Film and television


The film industry began with the invention of the Kinetoscope by Thomas Edison.

His failure to patent it resulted in two brothers, Louis and Auguste Lumiere creating a portable camera that could process film and project images.[4] The invention quickly gained notoriety when the Lumiere brothers debuted a series of 60 second clips screened outdoors to a Parisian audience. Despite the ever-growing popularity of moving images, the Lumiere Brothers did not seek to revolutionize the style of film, but stuck to documenting daily life in France. This set the grounds for future film revolutionaries, including George Melies, who sought to create narrative sequences in his films through the use of special effects.[4]


In the 1970s, television began to change to include more complicated and three-dimensional characters and plots.

PBS launched in 1970, and was the home for programming that would not be suitable for network television. It operates on donations and little government funding, rather than having commercials. On January 12, 1971, the sitcom All in the Family premiered on CBS, and covered the issues of the day and portrayed a bigot named Archie Bunker.[4] By 1972, the sales of color television sets surpassed that of black-and-white sets. In the 1980s, television became geared towards what has become known as the MTV Generation, with a surge in the number of cable channels.[12]


Photography plays a role in the field of technology and mass communication by demonstrating facts or reinforcing ideas.

Although the photos are altered digitally, it is still considered a proof to expose and communicate.[4]

History of Photography

Camera Obscura one of the first techniques that lead to creating photos. It could create an image on a wall or piece of paper. Joseph Niepce was a French inventor that took the first photo in the 1827 that required 8 hours of exposure. In 1839, Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype that reduced exposure time to about thirty minutes. As the years progressed so did photography techniques, including creating better image quality, adding color to an imagine and reduced exposure time.

Photography Today

The modern industry has dramatically changed with the development of digital, as phones and digital cameras have made film-based cameras a niche product.

Kodak discounted making color film in 1999 and declared Bankruptcy in 2012.

Other companies like Fujifilm adapted despite a downturn in sales.[4]

Interactive Media

Types of Video Games

Video game genres are a classification assigned to a video game based on its game play rather than a visual or storytelling differences.

A video game genre is defined by a set of game play challenges and are classified independently of when and where the game takes place.

Ethics in Interactive Media

Interactive Media is a form of communication technique that refers to services on digital computer-based systems.

This requires two or more parties who respond to each other through text, moving images, animation, video, audio, and video games.[13] The ethics in interactive media mainly focus on the violence of video games, advertising being influenced in different ways and behavioral targeting.

The violence of video games relates to ethics in interactive media because it brings on aggressive attitude and behavior that impacts the social lives of the people playing these video games.[14] Furthermore, behavioral targeting ties into the ethics of interactive media because these websites and apps on our phones contain our personal information which allow the owners or the ones running the companies to receive it and use them for themselves.[15] Interactive media influences advertising because by society using social media or any websites, we are able to see that there's advertising in everything we view especially when your scrolling through Instagram or those pop up ads that come up on your screen reading an article on your computer.


E-books have changed how people read.

People are able to download books onto their devices.

This allows consumers to track what they read, to annotate, and to search for definitions of words on the internet.[4] With e-books in education, the increased demand for mobile access to course materials and ebooks for students corresponds with the increased number of smartphones.[17] E- readers such as the Amazon Kindle have advanced over the years. Since its launch in 2007, the Kindle has expanded its memory from 4GB to 8 GB. In addition, the Kindle has added accessories including games, movies, and music.

Major theories

Communication researchers have identified several major theories associated with the study of mass communication.

Communication theory addresses the processes and mechanisms that allow communication to take place.

  • Cultivation theory, developed by George Gerbner and Marshall McLuhan, discusses the long-term effects of watching television, and hypothesizes that the more television an individual consumes, the more likely that person is to believe the real world is similar to what they have seen on television.[18] Cultivation is closely related to the idea of the mean world syndrome.

  • Agenda setting theory centers around the idea that media outlets tell the public "not what to think, but what to think about." Agenda setting hypothesizes that media have the power to influence the public discourse, and tell people what are important issues facing society.[19]

  • The spiral of silence, developed by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, hypothesizes that people are more likely to reveal their opinion in public if they believe that they are of the majority opinion, for fear that revealing an unpopular opinion would subject them to being a social outcast. This theory is relevant to mass communication because it hypothesizes that mass media have the power to shape people's opinions, as well as relay the opinion that is believed to be the majority opinion.[20]

  • Media ecology hypothesizes that individuals are shaped by their interaction with media,[21] and that communication and media profoundly affect how individuals view and interact with their environment.[22]

  • According to the Semiotic theory, communication characteristics such as words, images, gestures, and situations are always interpretive. All sign systems, entitled to be “read” or interpreted, regardless of form, may be referred to as “texts.” In the study of Semiotics, there is no such thing as a literal reading.[23]

Methods of study

Communication researchers study communication through various methods that have been verified through repetitive, cumulative processes.

Both quantitative and qualitative methods have been used in the study of mass communication. The main focus of mass communication research is to learn how the content of mass communication affects the attitudes, opinions, emotions, and ultimately behaviors of the people who receive the message. Several prominent methods of study are as follows:[24]

  • Studying cause and effect relationships in communication can only be done through an experiment.

  • This quantitative method regularly involves exposing participants to various media content and recording their reactions.

  • To show causation, mass communication researchers must isolate the variable they are studying, show that it occurs before the observed effect, and that it is the only variable that could cause the observed effect.

  • Survey, another quantitative method, involves asking individuals to respond to a set of questions in order to generalize their responses to a larger population.

  • Content analysis (sometimes known as textual analysis) refers to the process of identifying categorial properties of a piece of communication, such as a newspaper article, book, television program, film, or broadcast news script. This process allows researchers to see what the content of communication looks like.

  • A qualitative method known as ethnography allows a researcher to immerse themselves into a culture to observe and record the qualities of communication that exist there.

Professional organizations

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication[25] is the major membership organization for academics in the field, offering regional and national conferences and refereed publications. The International Communication Association[26] and National Communication Association (formerly the Speech Communication Association) are also prominent professional organizations. Each of these organizations publishes a different refereed academic journal that reflects the research that is being performed in the field of mass communication.

See also


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