Mass Media and Communication essay
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In the age of a communications and information revolution, there is an immense and simultaneous development of technologies. Being referred to as the 'old' media, television, radio and the press are facing significant changes. The considerable popularity of the Internet influences the perception of modern mass media. Cutting-edge technologies provide people with the possibility of exchanging and processing information as well as communicating more quickly than ever before. Nowadays, there are no boundaries for the mass media. Information can be reached by anyone willing to obtain it.
Interaction between people has also been transformed in the face of these technologies. The new communication model rediscovers social relations. The information revolution has radically changed modern society. People can no longer imagine their lives without daily use of Internet. Enormous amount of information is being produced annually, and each year it increases in a geometric progression.
In addition, considerable changes took place in the sphere of media theory. Digitalization, interactivity and convergence play a pivotal role in today’s mass communication; thus, shaping contemporary perception of the new media.
While bringing the improvements, technological changes can also be destructive. A significant gap is being formed between those who can adjust to the newest implementation and those who cannot, young and old, poor and rich. Mainly, it concerns distinctions between people but it can equally well be projected on the countries. Some governments can allow buying and applying the cutting-edge technologies while others are being at the tail-end. Therefore, all these changes should be perceived through a complex examination that contains different points of view such as economic, political and social opportunities and threats. In a modern world, no country can stand aside without participating in the implementation of the new technologies which impact on the whole of society both within a country and in the international context.
The mass media are among the most pliable spheres, which, in turn, has a particularly significant influence on consumers and producers, users and non-users. The access to information alongside with its content is being affected, as well. Within the industry, various firms have to strategically re-orientate themselves in order to adapt to the new standards and order (Kung, Picard & Towse, 2008, p.2).
While going with the times, governments also have to adjust to these changes. Although the Internet itself is not regulated, the media industries are. Therefore, governments need to realign and implement new regulations in the sphere of law and adjust it to the new platform.
Mass media breaks down the barriers of time and space between people and nations, and, therefore, creates one global community where similarities are emphasized while differences are submerged. In this context, the Internet has made the communication quite easy.
According to Williams (2003, p.214), in order to describe this phenomenon McLuhan invented the term 'global village'. His perception of consequences caused by the growth in global media and communications technology was positive and beneficial. Electronic communications create a unique environment where relations between participants can be characterized as interdependent. As a result, international mutual understanding develops and, therefore, differences are reduced.
While some suppose that global media plays a role of force that promotes equality and cooperation between nations, their mutual readiness to help strengthens universal democracy, others argue in this regard. There are some imbalances between those who are considered to be global villagers. It results in an unequal distribution of the information hardware and software throughout the global village.
Williams (2003) states, the exchange of ideas in the global village is far from being equal. In this context various values, lifestyles and products that come from the West in particular those of the United States, prevail. The control of the media and communications industries rests in the hands of a small number of firms. Western countries, in particular the USA, are seen as dominating the global village, controlling the flow of information and entertainment across the planet. Therefore, massive growth of global media is uneven and unequal.
The West's domination of the global village is not disputed. What is a matter of contention is the consequence of this influence. The spread of global media, as well as their increasing centrality in most people's lives, is seen as a problem for local communities. People are trying to preserve their distinctiveness in the face of changes brought about by globalization. The impact of global media raises a question of cultural, national and individual identity. Each person has a need of finding his or hers place in the world, alongside with identifying who they are and where they belong. In the modern world, the primary way in which people have done this is through the nation. A crucial element in defining who we are has always been national identity. In this sense, the global media poses a threat to any nation, because of erasing the imaginary boundaries that allow drawing a distinction between various groups of people (Williams, 2003, p. 214-215).
To understand mass communication in the digital age, first it is necessary to understand the process of communication. Communication is the act of sending messages, ideas and opinions from one person to another. Meanwhile, mass communication is transmitting the information through a unique device which is also referred to as a medium to large audiences.
The newest media industry also is growing the fastest. Internet media have become a new mass medium as well as an integrated delivery system for traditional print, audio, and video and interactive media (such as video games). The Internet also offers access to many other consumer services, such as shopping and social networking, and a place for businesses to sell their products using advertising and product promotion.
The economics of the communications industries makes digital media of delivery highly powerful. All the industries involved in building and maintaining this interconnected network— broadcast, cable, telephone, computer, software, satellite and the consumer electronics industries— want a piece of the estimated $1 trillion in income that digital delivery represents. Digital technology is transforming the media business by enabling faster transmission of more information to more people than ever before (Biagi, 2011).
With the spread of the digital media, the whole frame of mediated communication is widened. Even in case that access to the Internet remains restricted to less than 20 percent of the world population, and local and national usage is dominating compared to transnational use, the Internet provides a new form of mediated space allowing individual access worldwide. The reach of this mediated space is further expanded by connections to a wide range of cell phone networks. Mediated public, semi-public and private space is available and accessible for any individual, group, company or institution; limitations pertain not only to location, but language, education, knowledge and culture. A variety of digitalized and born-digital media are now embedded in daily life. One aspect relates to the use of digital media for performing actions at a distance, replacing face-to-face activities or phone/mail activities. A virtual store can be visited instead of the real one. Some of these processes may be best understood as new means of performing already-known activities, while others are better understood as new kinds and types of activities that were not possible without digital media. The distinction is blurred: the Internet favors the development of non-local, eventually transnational communities, but it would be a mistake to claim that such communities did not previously exist. It would also be mistaken, however, to claim that peer-to-peer communities would emerge without Internet. At the same time, the Internet also favors local public spheres (Finneman, 2006).
Definition of the Old and New Media
Before the 1970s, media were defined by the systems that delivered them. Paper delivered the print media—newspapers, magazines and books. Antennas carried broadcast signals—radio and television. Movies required film, and music traveled on round discs. These traditional media each were specifically connected to their own method of delivery and organized into different types of the companies—newspaper, magazine and book publishers; recording and movie studios; radio and TV stations (Biagi, 2011).
Media is a term that refers to technologies through which content created for groups of consumers is moved and organized. Technology has transformed the nature of information and communication.
In an interconnected digital world, the speed and convenience of the network redefines the mass media industries and erases all previous notions of how mass communications should work.
Media and communication technologies were distinct, governed by their own set of political and economic arrangements, and storing and processing information in different places and ways. Nowadays, the convergence of telecommunications, computing technologies and media can be witnessed. They are being brought together by digital technology, which enables “an unlimited amount of information to be stored, transmitted, gathered and utilized in new ways, and makes feasible the linking together of homes, workplaces and businesses in one global information network” (Williams, 2003, p.227-228). New media entrepreneurs, governments, policy makers and many media practitioners highlight the miraculous transformations that are occurring. The development of the information society is an inevitable and beneficial outcome of technological change. The media are a crucial part of this society, driven by technological change and facilitating positive and beneficial social change.
According to McQuail (2010), the term ‘new media’ has appeared in the 1960s, implying an expanding and varying set of applied communication technologies. It can also be defined in a more complex way which links information communication technologies (ICT) and a wide range of social contexts. The main difference between the new and old media is that the last one lacks the same understanding of applied devices and prevalent social arrangements. The essential features of the ‘new media’ are interconnection, interactivity, ubiquity and boundlessness.
The two significant driving forces of change within the scope of communications revolution are: satellite communication and the conjunction of the computer. The process of digitalization lies in the center of these technological changes. It facilitates the exchange of the information of all kinds which is being formatted accordingly in order to be transferred quickly and easily.
New means of transmission have changed some aspects of mass communication. Cable, radio and satellite have immensely contributed to the increase of the capacity to transmit information. The range of possibilities has also been expanded due to the emergence of new means of storage and retrieval.
It is obvious that the traditional media had benefited immensely from the implications of all these innovations. McQuail (2010) suggest that the communications revolution has influenced the ‘balance of power’ by shifting it from the media to the audience. Thus, more options have appeared, and their wide choice selection results in an increase, in activity. The new communication model is considerably multi-faceted. The essential feature that is essentially being offered is its interactivity.
Since the emergence of the Internet, traditional media companies have considerably influenced the online world. Their online efforts can be distinguished in offensively and defensively terms. From an offensive perspective, the Internet contributes to the creation of additional profits. The key point is that traditional media companies started their online campaigns relying on the support of an existing offline customer base. Therefore, additional promotion is not essential since the well-known brand already exists. Nonetheless, the main profits consist in the creation of additional distribution channels extending the customer base and increasing brand awareness as a bonus. From a defensive perspective, the Internet poses a threat to traditional media forcing such companies to invest in their online representation (Kolo & Vogt, 2003).
In this context, it becomes more difficult to find distinctions between different types of media. Different methods of the transmission channel are being utilized in order to distribute various information, therefore, the original uniqueness of the form is being reduced. This tendency is being reinforced by the increasing convergence of technology, based on digitalization.
McQuail (2010, p. 41) states that “the clear lines of the regulatory regime between the media are already blurred, both recognizing and encouraging greater similarity between different media”. Another tendency that affects any particular national variant of media content and institution is globalization. The integration and convergence of national and global media corporations is encouraged by the society.
Familiarity and convenience are highly valuable in the adoption of new technologies, because of people’s fear of something they do not understand and misunderstand about how new technologies work can keep them from changing their established habits.
What makes the Web as a mass medium different from traditional media is its capacity to combine commerce with access to information and entertainment. People not only can buy products on the Web, but they can also learn new things and enjoy themselves.
Digital media are characterized by a number of significant first-ever properties anchored in the variability of textualized functional architecture. They are biased differently from all of the formerly known media, and they represent an expansion of both the public and private mediated spaces and contribute to the development of a new, more complex media matrix. A theory of digital media ought to be able to address all of the issues related to this (Finneman, 2006).
The Impact of ICT on Culture
Information and communication technologies have changed the way people work with information and communicate with each other. The high rate of adoption of such technologies has turned both the workplace and the household into arenas where each person increasingly depends on these technologies in his or hers daily tasks (Browning, Saetre, Stephens & Sornes, 2008, p. 47).
In a modern world, people substitute the new ICTs such as the Internet for what were the previous existing communication practices. To be more specific, ICTs are perceived as more efficient, cheaper, faster, and perhaps more accurate ways of carrying out existing communication tasks. However, the unprecedented possibilities offered by ICTs can leave both people and organizations overwhelmed with the information available “just in time” and with the rich repertoire of new ways to communicate throughout the world. The combination of innovation and the market stimulate the search for new tools and methods. They also help organizations transform data and information into a business advantage.
When ICTs are used, culture may both influence them and be influenced by them. Because the imprint of culture is pervasive, it is also powerful. Leaders often want to change and manage cultures, since once one is established, it is an efficient form of control; the enforcement of cultural practices is often driven by peer assessments and approval. While defining culture according to the three main levels—national, organizational, and subcultural—it is also essential to examine how they each relate to ICT use.
Traditionally, this connection can be viewed two different ways. First, technology can affect culture, most obviously on organizational and subcultural occasions. (Browning et al., 2008).
The influence of the Internet covers s wide range of technological developments that relate to economic and social change. The invention of the World Wide Web, the development of cable and satellite television, the process of digitalization played a significant role in the transformation of the media industries.
Nowadays, the Internet is perceived as a potential purveyor of goods and many profitable services and, as an alternative to other means of interpersonal communication (McQuail, 2010).
Online news is the extensions of newspaper journalism, although this form of information exchange is an evolving direction itself. The use of new media creates diverse opportunities as well as a new perception of content and forms, in which information is being transmitted all over the world. The wide popularity of Internet is guaranteed due to its distinctive technology, manner of use, and range of content and services, and a distinct image of its own.
McQuail (2010) emphasizes that the Internet is neither controlled, nor owned by any organization or institution. The common definition is that it is simply a network of computers that are being interconnected internationally. The operations take place in accordance to agreed protocols. Numerous service providers and telecommunication companies cooperate in order to maintain its flawless operation.
Main characteristics of the Internet as a new mass media:
- • Cutting-edge information technologies.
- • Flexible character.
- • Interactivity.
- • Public and private orientation.
- • Absence of regulation.
- • Interconnection.
- • Ubiquity and lack of boundaries
- • Accessible to individuals as communicators.
Unlike the broadcast spectrum, the World Wide Web presents an almost unlimited amount of transmission and storage capacity. With that comes the potential for local news stations and newspapers to reach a global audience. Despite some initial reluctance to embrace the online medium, local television network affiliates in the United States have established a firm presence in cyberspace, sometimes through strategic partnerships with other content providers, and a few standout sites are now generating considerable traffic.1 However, being slow to embrace the online environment has not helped television news.
Stone (2001) emphasizes that a leading newspaper sites dominate the local Net news market, outperforming all other local media in a majority of media markets nationally. According to Brown (2000), amidst this competitive backdrop, broadcasters are confronted with justifying the existence of their online operations as the industry transitions into a third generation of Net news marked by new methods of storytelling and ways of engaging audiences in public affairs information. The challenges facing local broadcasters, who have not established reliable online revenue models, are far more daunting than those confronting main newspapers, whose digital editions are much more likely to be profitable or breaking even (as cited in Bucy, 2004, p. 102).
Internet as a New Communications Media
Today, the Internet delivers all forms of media using a single delivery system without barriers. The Internet has caused the emergence of new media products and new competition in the media business that were impossible to foresee when the Internet as a place for consumers first emerged in 1978, originally designed by a group of scientists who were simply hoping to share information (Biagi, 2011).
The Internet is totally different from traditional media because of its global size and absence of central control. Originally developed to help researchers, scientists and educators communicate, the Internet has evolved in a way no one planned or expected.
The term digital media describes all forms of communications media that combine text, pictures, sound and video using computer technology. All digital media use the same numbered codes; therefore, digital media are compatible, which is the main reason for growing so fast. Because of its rapid growth, digital communications have become the biggest factor in the development of all of the today’s mass media industries. Rather than the one-way communication of traditional media, communication on today’s compatible digital networks means someone can receive and send information simultaneously, without barriers.
In an interconnected digital world, the speed and convenience of the network redefines the mass media industries and erases all previous notions of how mass communications should work. Today’s media are constantly evolving. Digital media are similar to traditional media yet different in ways that make them distinct from their predecessors. Because of the interdependence of mass media today, all the media industries are transforming simultaneously (Biagi, 2011).
Digitalization and Convergence
It is essential to distinguish terms like digital and the Internet although these two are often used interchangeably and that is wrong. Digital describes a technology that allows to store data in binary form. Any form of information (graphics, audio, video, text or photography) can be shared due to its standardized format. Meanwhile, the Internet means a complex system in the network of which all the above-mentioned information can be distributed. Clearly, it is not the only way to conduct a transmission of data. Other distribution systems include telephones, radio, television and computers which can be either analogue or digital depending upon the architecture of the system. Therefore, digitalization is a highly significant process of mathematical conversion of all types of information into binary form. Being in the standardized format, it can be understood, compressed, stored, transmitted and retrieved by any digital device by another person from any point on the globe regardless of physical distance. Digitalization opens new possibilities resulting in the creation of new products and services (Kung et al., 2008).
The emergence of the Internet alongside with the implication of digitalization enables convergence. Convergence can be understood in a number of different ways: as the technologically-driven combination of the content, its digitalization or computing and broadcasting. In the context ICTs, the convergence takes place in several areas. According to García-Murillo and MacInnes (2003) it occurs in technologies and industries as well as regulation.
The evolution of technology in the computer, telecommunications, and media industries allows for many combinations, and each results in a different basket of services.
Media and society are closely interconnected. The Internet is the key of the new communications media. In this context, privacy is the base for claiming freedom from control. In addition, the policing alongside with enforcing national frontiers faces considerable difficulties while trying to keep out the unwanted foreign communication. McQuail (2010) points out that the continued strength of institutional controls should not be underestimated while new technology seems to increase the promise of freedom of communication.
Regulation of the media sector is achieved in several different ways. The media industries are subject to anti-monopoly legislation/competition law. Another mean of regulation is intellectual property (IP) law, mainly copyright law, and in many ways this has become a universal regulatory force. Copyright law (while still national law) has become increasingly globalized lately through international treaties setting minimum standards for rights and their enforcement. Copyright law has become progressively stronger as its scope and duration have been increased as well as the penalties for non-compliance. The globalization of the media industries is being reflected by this global agenda (Kung et al., 2008).
The impact of Internet on content diversity and ownership in media industries is a much discussed topic as is the separate question whether the Internet should be specifically regulated, and if so how and by what regulatory body. There are many difficult issues here: media industries typically require individual regulatory regimes, but the Internet carries a mixture of content from all these industries; moreover, the Internet is global and evasion of regulation within one country is obviously extremely easy. In order to regulate this sphere effectively, an international regulatory body needs to implement international law and sanctions. (Kung, 2008, p.11-12)
There was an attempt on the part of the federal government to regulate and coordinate the Internet. Nevertheless, the implementation of the same instruments designed to facilitate the coordination of the broadcast media, had insignificant results. Only an extremely limited control over the Internet and its content can be exercised by the US government.
The Impact of the Internet on Traditional Media
The revolution in information technology has influenced everyone’s life. These innovations have also caused revolutionary changes in the information and entertainment delivery. These transformations result in creating a more informed and engaged mass public.
There is a direct dependence between the Internet and the traditional media. The more time is spent on the Internet, the less it is dedicated to the traditional media.
The study conducted by Nie and Erbring (2002) confirms this trend and suggests its further integration of media and information delivery technologies. Therefore, it is likely to have a significant impact on the economics of the media industry.
For the most part, the Internet today is not only an entertainment utility but an enormous public library with a search engine that enables to find any necessary information.
The Internet is a new medium, but its growth as a true mass medium for people seeking information and entertainment is limited only by digital technology and economics. The large media companies have vast amounts of money available to bankroll new technologies. These companies also have a shared interest in seeing their investments succeed.
Some observers have predicted, for example, that print media are dead, yet book sales continue to be steady, and publishers have developed e-books to take advantage of the digital form (Biagi, 2011).
The history of the evolution of media shows that the introduction of a new medium or a new delivery system does not mean the end of the old. The continuous expansion of the media industries during the 20th century demonstrates this evolution.
When television was introduced, for example, radio did not disappear. Instead, radio adapted to its new place in the media mix, delivering music, news and talk. Today, radio exists extremely comfortably alongside television. Movies, which also were threatened by the introduction of television, responded by delivering more spectacular and explicit entertainment than people could see on television, and today movies still play a pivotal role in the business of media. The different media compete for the public’s attention and jockey for positions of dominance, but no medium disappears (Biagi, 2011).
The emergence of the Internet has influenced the industry of mass media significantly. The rules of completion between the old media and the new have undergone some serious consideration.
Thanks to its unique characteristics the digital media predominates over other spheres. One the most salient features of the Internet is the implementation of cutting-edge technologies, in the timely measures. Information technologies are being developed on a continuing basis. The efficient use of these innovations allows surpass all the other types of media.
In a modern changeable world, the key to success lies in the ability to adapt oneself to the surrounding. As the Internet increases its presence in average households, all traditional media have, in their own ways, embraced the Internet. Flexible character of the new technology facilitates interpenetration of different media.
The most significant part of the Internet’s impact on mass media lies in a guaranteed mutual influence. While traditional media attempt to expand their reign on the digital sphere as well, the Internet absorbs the content of the old media. Therefore, a wide range of possibilities is being created. Those who are used to obtain information the old way may continue doing so, whereas those who give preference to the cutting-edge technologies can indulge their wishes.
What distinguishes the traditional media from the Internet is their lack of interactivity which results in the absence of positive or negative feedback. Therefore, the convergence of these two gives a chance to compensate this deficiency of interaction.
Another highly significant characteristic of the Internet is its ubiquity. It is obvious that a number of preconditions must be created, in order to provide its presence, but once the new technologies are installed the communication becomes limitless. The boundlessness of traditional media cannot be assured the same way for there are diverse technical requirement, the implementation of which causes considerable difficulties. For instance, the national borders may put obstacles in the way of information exchange. Naturally, it refers to the old media even despite the globalization. Meanwhile, the same digital information can hardly face a barrier.
In this context, it is worth mentioning the absence of regulation and control of the new media. There is no government that does not wish to take the Internet and its content under its control. Nevertheless, it is a complex and independent system which develops chaotically in many direction based on the actions of its users. Once it was just an instrument to exchange information between professionals ,but nowadays it is a vast structure which evolves and adapts constantly.
The humankind has already exceeded the amount of the information it has produced so far. It can be explained due to ease of use of the new technologies that are being offered by the new media. Thanks to the process of digitalization, the preservation of the rare information became possible. Thus, it contributes to the accumulation of extensive knowledge. Digital information is also easy to produce, distribute and consume; therefore, it develops in a geometrical progression at an even greater rate.
Nevertheless, the continuous expansion of the new media does not pose a threat to the traditional one. The Internet offers an alternative distribution channel for traditional media’s products. In addition, it influences the strengthening of the existing media’s position with their readers and audiences and at the same time competes with the traditional.
It is essential that each medium contributes to the development of its successors. The unique convergence of all media that now exist will contribute to media forms that are yet to be invented.
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