Society not only continues to exist by transmission, by communication, but it may fairly be said to exist in transmission, in communication. – John Dewey
As per John Dewey, apart from being supported by various communication forms, society is also enveloped in communication. He merely reiterated what philosophers and scholars had observed for centuries. Everything that makes society, whether small groups, large communities, vast institutions, etc., functions concerning how communication flows within and between groups.
Hence, communication forms an integral part of society. And with time, it has become a broader concept. There are various communication forms— verbal communication, non-verbal communication, interpersonal communication, organizational communication, mass communication, etc.
Mass communication involves sharing meanings and information through symbolic messages to a broader audience or population from one source to many receivers. Thus, it has a more considerable impact on society and affects various ways.
Mass media has the ability to influence society and cultures as well as to shape their opinions. Forms of media depend on society’s structures; the different community has different media platforms to suit their needs. Mass media provides essential knowledge about the happenings in society at any given time. They offer cultural experience and also artistic works.
The mass media is an institution itself. And one of the most identifying features is its ability to influence massive numbers of people’s opinions and thinking. It is also evident that the views and ideas exchanged and the discussion happening in interpersonal communication, organizational communication is often established and shaped by the messages in the mass media platforms. Even the reinforcements or negation of these messages are shaped by an Excellent example of to exist in transmission, in communication. These different types of communication influence each other.
But it will be wrong to say or assume that the mass media only affects or influences the masses or the individuals. People or institutions and social groups also shape influence and impact the mass media.
In the early 1800s, the mass media in telegraph technology began to spread and connect people in new ways. Since then, it has been multiplying and advancing with the advancement of technologies. It can be classified according to their nature, physical forms, the technology involved, and the communication process’s nature.
The traditional media includes arts and crafts and folk songs, dance, and music. They are performed in the theatres and used to attract audiences to the theatres. These are often spontaneous and made on the spot.
For the past many decades and perhaps the last two to three centuries, this has been the primary mode of mass media communication. It is a primary means to serve and reach a broad audience. These include;
This is a form of print media where the news and other information are printed and published daily and reached to the audience. It was prevalent then, and it is prevalent now. With time it has also evolved in terms of paper quality and news coverage.
MAGAZINES AND PERIODICALS
Unlike newspapers, these are instead published on a weekly and monthly basis. These cover essential inventions and updates on specific field developments apart from news.
This has been around for many centuries. It is the primary mode of keeping and preserving development and advancement. Along with that, books also provide an invaluable source of entertainment coupled with knowledge.
Electronic Media mainly includes film, radio, and television. In 1895, Lumiere Brothers invented cinematography. It is considered as the start of electronic media. Later came the invention of the radio by Guglielmo Marconi. First radio stations were set-up in New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh in the 1920s.
NEW MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA
With the invention of the internet and the world wide web came several new avenues of mass media communication. These media include email, several websites, podcasts, ebooks, blogging, social networking sites, OTT platforms, internet radio, etc.
Social media has been the most widespread and associated platform which are of these inventions result. Social media has eliminated the limited reach of information and the broader awareness of issues and understanding. Now people can connect with anyone even with being in the comfort of their home. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit have open doors to ideas, views, thoughts, etc.
In recent times, social media has also shown us that it can mobilize the mass movement. The examples are the Iranian green revolution in the year 2009, which was closely followed by the western media by twitter and youtube and the other example is the twitter revolution.
USE OF MEDIA
Media can help to create awareness about the critical and relevant issues among the people. It is a faster medium than any other mode. Mass media can also be used to teach people about their cultural values and importance. It can also be used for the upliftment of the society. Like the family’s conservatory nature towards their girl child can widely be hampered and encourage them to look another way by using media. For example, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme of government, and its widespread advertisement by the media through various forms has undoubtedly improved India’s girl child condition and has helped change people’s perspective towards their female child.
Shows like Satyamev Jayate in India have highlighted several difficult issues and problems rooted in Indian society and made people aware of it. This all has been possible only with the use of the mass media.
Mass media has several essential functions. Some of these are:
INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
Being informed about the happenings and significant developments around ourselves is the innate demand of humans and this demand is fulfilled by the mass media. Through its various forms, it keeps us informed about the multiple events taking place around our society and the development of that. It also provides us with the perspective and opinions to choose from and helps us make ours.
MEDIA IS ALSO A TOOL OF EDUCATION
Using the government, society, organizations can educate their masses about certain things like disease, schemes, etc. The example of polio and AIDS awareness is the latest example of the educational function of mass media.
BROUGHT THE WORLD CLOSER (SOCIALIZATION)
The advancement in the mass media direction has resulted in the close interaction of the people worldwide. Now the world is not limited to the physical boundaries. The speed of media has brought the people closer than ever. For example, if you watch a cricket match between two international teams, you can simultaneously comment on your views and ideas with others.
Mass media has become one of the best means of entertainment, be it radio, television, the internet. Nowadays, a new platform OTT has also come so now you can watch the latest movies without going to the theatres.
Mass media has made available large numbers of options for entertainment to the people.
Media is the reflection of our society, and it shows how society works. It reaches every corner of the world and is very powerful. Media is highly influential as media consumes most of our leisure time. On average, 25 hours per week is spent on watching television. The question arises if it is used positively or negatively to influence people.
- Media can attract direct attention to problems, solutions, and people in ways that can favor this in power and correlatively divert attention from rival individuals and groups.
- The mass media can also influence society by conferring status and confirming legitimacy.
- Also, the media, in some circumstances, has the ability to be a channel for persuasion and mobilization.
- The mass media can bring certain kinds of politics into being and maintain them.
- The media are a vehicle for offering psychic rewards and gratification. They can divert and amuse, and they can flatter.
- In general, mass media are very cost-effective as a means of communication in society; they are also fast, flexible, and relatively easy to plan and control. In his suggestion, Carey (1969) suggested that the mass media is both a force for integration and dispersion and individualism in society.
- The media serve as a forum for the exchange of comments and criticism of public discussion on the few stories carried among several selected by the mass media’s gatekeepers.
- One positive influence of the mass media is that it gives multiple points of view, probably for more than they could come in contact with through personal channels. Several of our opinions and decisions are shipped by and influenced by the mass media handles and modes.
It can be rightly concluded that the mass media influence people in many ways. The mass media can also be used to drive positive changes in society and has also shown the way for it in many instances. It should not be used as an agent of agenda building and manipulation.
 John Dewey, Democracy and Education,(Macmillan,1916).
BY DEEPAK PRAKASH | GURU GOVIND SINGH INDRAPRASTHA UNIVERSITY, NEW DELHI