Communication is a two way process. In the first phase of the communication process, the person wishing to communicate (the sender of the message), disseminates (sends) a message to his or her audience. The audience is the receiver of the message. In the second phase of the communication process, the receiver sends another message or response to the initial sender of the message. This message by the receiver to the sender is the feedback. It helps the original sender of the message to know whether the message he sent was understood. In the process of communication, the sender uses certain media to reach his audience. This may be direct mail, radio, television, bill boards or even verbal face to face communication. The receiver may use the same media to respond or send his feedback.The mass media often referred to as the media has become the preferred mode of communication in the modern world. This is because the media helps senders of messages reach a big audience and hence meet their communication needs. There are therefore many reasons that necessitate study of the media.One of the most important is so that we - communicators- can understand how to best make use of the media in communicating mass messages. Studying the media helps us understand the different medium of communication that there are. Understanding the different medium of communication means that a communicator will be at a better position to know which medium will reach his or her target audience best. For example a communication officer wishing to communicate the annual general meeting of the company he works for will use his understanding of the media to choose between either sending direct mail to all stake holders, doing a press release or advertising the AGM of television. His understanding of the media will most likely lead him to pick two or all of the above options.Studying the media also helps communicators avoid communication disasters. An example of a communication disaster is where a chief executive officer of a company discloses the company's secrets in an interview most likely in a light note or a job with the journalist and hopes that such information will not be published. A person who has studied the media understands that there is nothing that is said off the cuff in a media interview, this is because the journalist's role is to ensure that an interviewee discloses as much information as possible, whether it's through a joke or not.
Having established the reasons for studying the media many may ask, now that the media is such a tricky industry how does one get to understand it? The truth is; understanding the media is certainly not as hard as it seems. But it requires a lot of dedication.First of all one can understand the media by definitely taking up a course in mass communication. This is because such a course will be taught by media experts who have worked in the media for many years.Observation is another way to understand many things in life, the media included. Watching the news, reading newspaper stories, listening to radio and involving yourself in other forms of media will help you understand how the media works. For example when watching a politician being interviewed on television a fellow politician will be able to take note of some of the questions posed and the relentleness with which the journalists push for answers in the questions which they must get answers.Another way would be by reading the newspaper articles. By so doing one will notice that there definitely will be information that the interviewee did not wish disclosed by they mentioned it anyway hence making it the property of the media.
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One can also understand the media by working closely with it. A good example is either by volunteering in the media, seeking employment in the same or having connections in the media. By working closely with the media one gets to understand the kind of information that the media makes public and how they can best take advantage of this. For example the media likes to take advantage of sensational stories. One can however only know this by working closely with the media or by working in the media. The same would be impossible if one was not working in the media.Power is related to media in many ways. First of all for a person to understand how powerful the media makes a person they must know there is no such thing as bad publicity. As long as a person appears in the media, whether it's because a certain scandal about them has reached the press of because the person has won an award, the impact is more or less them same.Whether power is a good thing or a bad thing ot whether the power one acquires through the negative publicity is the same as the one acquired through positive publicity is a different thing.A good example of power created by the media is the way the masterminds of terrorism have been spoken of in the media. The publicity is most definitely negative as they are engaging in mass destruction, but such people like Osama bin Laden are known by people all over the world and even adored by some because of the negative publicity they have accrued in the media.However the media can take away all the power it has given to a person. This had happened to many politicians, movie makers and actors. Through the media some politicians acquire power to influence decision making. This happens when a politician is covered so many times especially in positive ways. The politician may even win the election because of this positive coverage. Some have even won the Nobel peace prize. But when the media decides to take away all this power it can be done in the blink of an eye .All the media has to do is to give the particular politician a media blackout. No matter what the politician does, the media refuses to cover him and in no time, he gets forgotten. The same also happens to actors. One day an actor is a nobody y- nobody knows him. But the actor acts in a good movie that hits the box office and soon the actor is even been called to give talks to young actors or judge an acting contest. C=suddenly he has become powerful. But when the actor can no longer gets a role in a movie. When the actor is no longer making any appearances on television then he begins to fade away. He is back to being a nobody and all the power is gone.The media can also give power to its audiences. This is because knowledge is power. When the media plays its role of educating the audience or informing the audience on what is going on in the world, the media gives the power of knowledge to all its audience.Media also gives power to the designers of the message or the sender of the message. This is because through the media his message reaches its audience and the person gets to communicate the information they wanted to communicate.Therefore the role of the media in society, in our everyday lives and in learning and communicating cannot be ignored. Neither can the study of the media.