Media are basically the visual communication media or resources utilized to transfer and store data or information. The word media actually refers to various components of this vast mass media communications sector, including newspaper, magazine, broadcast media, film, television, music, and publishing. In some cases, there is overlap among several of these types of media that are considered one medium.
Early forms of media helped people exchange information orally. Examples of early forms of media include the forms of letters and telegrams in ancient times. There also were the written word in prehistoric times. In the medieval period, there was the beginning of mass print publishing that dramatically altered the way information was shared and communicated. In the early modern period, the term media referred to pamphlets became the early form of modern mass communication.
In recent years, the term media has encompassed many elements of modern communications, with the internet being the most prominent example. The increasing role of the media in contemporary society has highlighted the need for increased awareness, understanding, and monitoring of how this growing communication tool is impacting our society. This calls upon various forms of media and communications psychology to be brought to the forefront in education, entertainment, and communication to help us learn more about the impact of the media on our society. Furthermore, this need has created a unique field – media and communications psychology – that is ripe with opportunities for professionals who would like to explore this dynamic and influential field.
Media and communications are a large part of everyday life. It can be seen in the larger culture, from the large-scale societal patterns of television and radio advertisements to the small, intimate actions of daily newspaper browsing and conversation. Media and communications refer to the way messages are transmitted from one person to another, including through the written word, recorded sound, or visually represented in pictures, film, or electronic media. This broader definition includes the influence of mass media on the creation and the reception of information, as well as the impact of diverse forms of communication on the distribution of that information. For example, the way in which television stations are managed, produced, marketed, promoted, controlled, and marketed, as well as the targeted demographic of viewers, shape the way in which mass media portrays and advertises topics of public interest. Additionally, the way in which electronic media relates to the world around it, such as the internet and World Wide Web, allows for even more dramatic effects on communication and societal norms.
As was pointed out earlier, traditional mass media is often considered the primary source of mass communication, but this is not always the case. Radio and television programs often include advertisements or sponsors in their programming. In addition, when newspapers and magazines are published, they contain advertisements by other companies or people. Printed books can contain advertisements from just about every industry imaginable. The distribution of this media is almost always controlled through one or more intermediaries, which ensures that the public is not constantly exposed to the messages contained within their publication. Furthermore, in many instances, the distribution of media messages is controlled by government regulations.
However, the Internet and other highly developed media technologies pose significant obstacles to the proper distribution of media messages. On the one hand, Internet use and browsing habits directly conflict with the way that mass communication was normally handled through the medium of print. On the other hand, new forms of media technology have arisen that render television, radio, and magazines ineffective as mass communication tools. Even still, there are a number of ways in which these newer technologies can be utilized to improve the state of mass communication.