Mass Media

Different forms of language have always helped mankind to communicate; may it be a crude symbol written language, or a very sophisticated language like Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit. In the initial times, mimicry and acting, with some symbolic language and drawings on surfaces, were the only modes of communication. From these humble beginnings, mankind has accepted and consistently developed new means. The chronology is vast, and the printing press, periodicals, newsletters, radio, television, telephones, and the Internet are some of the essential stepping stones in the journey. Today, there are several media channels working together in tandem.

What is Media Convergence?

Convergence is the process where several media channels come together to exist and operate in synergy. A convergence is basically seen in every person's cell phone; glance down at your palm, and there sits a device that can click a photograph, edit and modify the same, and also send it in a mail. Some people like to define convergence simply by stating it to be a merger of mass media and communication outlets. In some cases, multi-utility of the same gadget or media is also attributed to be a convergence. With the advancement of time and technology, manufacturers of technology are engaged in a race to manufacture devices that have maximum number of media converged within them.

Media Convergence and Technology

Three media channels are currently the focal point of the media convergence journey: the print media that has started laying a certain emphasis on Internet-based outlets, the slowly depleting difference between the television and the computer, and the slowly blurring line between the computers and the cell phones. Some decades ahead, we might be walking with gadgets in our hands, that are faster and more intelligent than the super computers. They'll have better connectivity than the cell phones, and can be used as televisions and newspapers too. This explains the fact that technology is acting as a super-catalyst in the convergence race.

Media Convergence and Society

There are a considerable number of effects of convergence on society. Media convergence is something that impacts us all, and such has become the way of life, that society adapts and changes accordingly. First we started only with written letter, then we proceeded to the ones that were typed on a typewriter, followed by the Fax and email, to the point where we now send a video or voice messages. Now, the pinnacle of convergence would be where an illuminated graphical figure would pop out of our gadgets to deliver a mail, orally, or graphically.

It goes without saying that media convergence is a speedy process affecting our careers too. It is getting more and more competitive out there, as one needs to start learning the converged technology as soon as it appears. Not only this, but entire offices and distances in two places have shrunk. Papers are slowly disappearing from offices, and certain slow working tools such as pens and typewriters are also disappearing. An apt example is that of the people who are in media jobs, as convergence demands versatility in jobs of the media personnel too.

Media is known to be the most powerful means of communication. Print media, electronic media and the Internet are all the subsets of mass media. Newspapers, newsletters, magazines and brochure are included in print media, while the electronic media consists of the television, radio and other modes of communication. Internet is without doubt the fastest known way of communicating with millions of people across the globe. Effects of mass media can be positive as well as negative.

The best thing about the mass media is that it immediately provides us with the latest information about the things happening around us. It reports news from all the fields such as politics, sports, international relations, wars, natural calamities, meetings, entertainment, etc. Because of the keen efforts and dedication of the people working in the media and the entertainment sector, our knowledge remains fresh. With this gained knowledge, we become more smart and outgoing. Many times, we understand what is good and bad for us. For example, the anti-tobacco and anti-narcotic programs launched by the media, have benefited many people to date. The information conveyed about various diseases and their possible treatments has saved the lives of many of us. The contribution of mass media in the fields of arts, education, technology and health care is laudable. We also get the correct information about the various crimes and illegal activities happening in our surroundings quite easily. Media is a boon for youngsters in many ways. They get useful information related to their career and higher education mostly through the mass media.

Media plays a very important role in shaping the personality of people. It has been observed that citizens become more sensible and capable to shoulder their responsibility towards the nation and the society because of media. We get our role models by hearing about the appreciation of their great deeds from the media itself. Over the years, mass media has played an important role in making people understand the meaning of democracy. We also come to know about the strengths and weaknesses of the economy of our country, the population figures, the various problems faced by the nation, achievements of the nation in different sectors, through the prompt and precise reporting of different forms of media. Media plays an important role in building the sense of unity and pride among the people of the nation. In those countries where there are many castes, religions and languages spoken, media has even more tough responsibility of conveying the true news to the citizens. Media makes the citizens aware of their fundamental rights and their duties towards their families, state and the nation. Utility of the mass media in the areas of advertising and marketing is simply great.

Though the positive mass media effects are many, there are some cons associated with it as well. The news which is published without having bothered to check whether it is a fact or not, can create unnecessary confusion and extreme feelings among the common masses. There have been many instances of huge fights and controversies emerging, because of improper reporting. It becomes the duty of media to provide only relevant and precise information to the masses.

Hopefully, you will be satisfied with the above mentioned information. Over the years, the media has become an inseparable component of our daily lives and hence, it is its prime responsibility to keep the confidence of people alive by reporting only true details of any particular event.

There was a time when one could always rely on the various types of media for accurate information. But in recent times, the media has gained for itself a reputation, for sensationalizing certain events or news pieces, where emphasis is drawn on unnecessary details. The various forms of mass media are known to influence the minds of the audience to a large extent.

Does this mean the media controls the world at large? What about our reliability on journalists and organizations worldwide? Journalism is a powerful tool when it comes to influencing the minds of people, but are we ready to have them give us only half the truth, or none at all? Let's take a deeper look into the types and reasons of media bias.

Types of Media Bias

Religious Bias
This sort of bias has been witnessed by us innumerable times, where certain nations either highlight the prominent religion of the state or country, or speak ill of the religion that governs the same. While many countries would see this as illegal, others aren't respectful when it comes to how they portray religion to the audience.

Information Bias
Some media houses deliberately leave out information, that they see as unfit for the audience to get their hands on, often blurring the line between the good and bad side of ethics. Newspapers, television news channels, and the like, will snip information that is exceedingly explanatory (but important), choosing to go with what can be conveyed in a nutshell.

Corporate Bias
The media is always looking to please someone, and in this case, it may be a major corporation that they heavily rely on for funds or exposure to audiences, to gain popularity amongst the rest.

Sensational Bias
When certain media houses give an audience the impression, that bigger not-so-common events are rather common, they befuddle the minds of people into thinking that everyday accidents and events, don't hold any sort of importance. In other words, they highlight rare instances and make them sound like a big deal, when small (but significant) events are kept in obscurity.

Advertisement Bias
Like corporate bias, advertising conglomerates have to be kept pleased by media houses, since a large part of funding comes from them. The same goes with political parties who have a stronghold on the media, where the reins are in their grip, with zero freedom to exercise expression and honesty.

Gate-Keeping Bias
This is when a media house takes the decision to withhold a story from the people, deciding to release the information at a later date, or never at all. This sort of bias is quite common, where a debate of how to release (if they do, that is) the story is first decided, possibly clipped down to size, and finally produced to the unsuspecting audience.

Causes of Media Bias

Media bias can happen due to various reasons. It occurs when journalists (or people) connected with the reporting of a particular event, have a prejudiced opinion about certain things, which ultimately results in a distorted version of the story.
Sometimes, there are certain media that may show a political bias towards certain news events. This happens when the publication or channel is in favor of a particular political party or a candidate.
A journalist may also be biased towards a particular incident and may add his/her personal opinion to the news report. This kind of media bias is purely based on the journalist's own opinion which is not considered to be purely ethical, to begin with.
Certain stories are showcased in the media depending on what pleases corporate giants; money and popularity being the deciding factor.
Racial and religious bias can happen when the journalist or news reporter, gives a report in favor of a particular religion/race.
Public Relations firms know how to control media houses, influencing their decisions on what to release to the public. They have years of practiced research to back their beliefs, since public opinion (and reactions) are heavily studied beforehand by PR experts.

These are some points that highlight how media can influence the minds of the audiences at large. In a time, where competition is running high, it's no wonder how outside influences are bound to affect the presentation of news events.

Media is all about connecting people and mirroring the society that we live in. Media is all about reflecting on daily happenings around the globe. People are not just the audience, but also an essential element of news in itself! Be it journalism or entertainment, the increasing importance of public opinion in media is evident everywhere. Well, if you are still unaware of this, then just take a look around you.

First of all, let us talk about print media, like newspapers and magazines. Newspaper content, which was the whole and sole product of reporters and journalists, has now undergone a radical change into an amalgamation of news and public opinions. Letters to the editor written by the readers are also an instance of acknowledgment of importance of public opinion. In addition to readership polls and questionnaires, there are also columns which are contributed to by the audience themselves―a phenomenon that is now known by the name of citizen journalism.

In case of the World Wide Web or the Internet, websites were already using public polls. In addition to that, the rise of blogging and public forums has paved way to increased exposure to individual opinions, and has, hence, strengthened the importance of public opinion on the web as well.

In many news channels across the globe, public polls are a common affair, and are considered as an important tool to measure public opinion. It reports public opinion about several issues and news. In case of entertainment channels, public voting for reality shows like American Idol explains the importance given to public opinion. In case of movies and films, what would be the success of a great movie if it had no audience? Although movies are about expression of views and ideas on a particular subject― movie makers also considered it as their livelihood. Thus it depends on public reviews and word of mouth publicity of the audience, which is instrumental in the success/failure of a particular movie.

The importance of public opinion is the effect of increased public participation in the media. This is an era where the media has awakened to the fact that no matter what they are dishing out―news, views, or entertainment―they need to keep it interactive. In case of the news industry, public opinion is not just a way to validate and supplement the news, but also a great way to increase the awareness of people about a particular topic. In addition to that, it is also a great step towards strengthening the democracy of a nation.

The TRPs for television channels, or the readership count for print media, are crucial when it comes to measuring overall success of the media. Since it is the public that is instrumental in shaping readership rankings or the TRP, the media is left with no choice but to acknowledge the importance of public opinion. It is public opinion that decides the success of media popularity and the eventual media success.

Media planning is a very frequently heard term in advertising circles. If you are planning to launch an advertising campaign for your product, you will surely come across this term. However, most people do not know what this term exactly means. Here's an explanation.

Traditionally, media planning meant deciding what kind of media should be employed for the advertising campaign. They would decide where the advertisement would have the maximum impact. Options considered were advertising on hoardings, television, cinema halls, overhead LCD TVs in malls or newspapers. All these traditional avenues of advertising were considered and then their profitability was analyzed. Based on such studies and researches, the final medium for the publicity campaign were selected.

Today, the concept of media planning has undergone a difference. It now involves not only selecting a medium for the advertising, but also deep analyzes into the outreach of the ads. Also, media planners will today select unconventional streams of advertising such as mobile vehicles, advertising in small retain stores, etc. Newer options are decided depending on what the product being publicized is. That is why today the 'media planning' concept is slowly waning out, and is being replaced by more expansive terms such as 'media strategy' or 'communications planning'.

Aims of Media Planning

There are some specific aims that the media planning industry intends to achieve. Media planning is not anymore just about finding media to place the ads of the business. Determining the right kind of impact with the ad is also an important part of their job. The aims of any media planning project will depend on the following factors:-

The budget that the client defines for the advertising campaign
The type of product and the target audience it caters to
The prime focus behind the advertising campaign
The main message that the advertising campaign carries

These are important points that decide in a large way how the media will be planned for the advertising campaign. Based on these, the following set of aims is established:-

The advertisement in the decided media will reach out to a particular number of people
The advertisement will have a particular number of views/visits per person in a given timeframe
The advertisement will be able to convert viewers/visitors into customers after a particular number of views/visits
A particular figure for cost-effectiveness of the campaign

These profiles are established and discussed with the clients. It can be seen through the aims and objectives here that media planning is much more today than mere media buying. There's a lot more strategizing and planning than there ever was.

Payments in Media Planning

Media planners do not take a commission-based payment as most other people in the advertising industry do. This is because media planners do not work with volumes; they work with strategies. Their services are creative. For this reason, percentage cuts are decided in advance as their payment modes. These percentages are cut off from the total budgets of the advertising campaigns.

Online Media Planning

Another term that is coming to prominence in this generation is Internet media planning or online media planning. The Internet is a very potential source of advertising for businesses across the world today, and it is quite understandable why every company worth its salt is promoting its wares through websites. But, it is very important to promote these websites in the right manner. The focus here is on reaching out to the niche customers. This is what an online media planner undertakes. The online media planner would first conduct a deep study into the business itself, and then employ fruitful routes of advertising for the business. Various channels can be used, such as affiliate advertising through text ads and banner ads, creating business collaborations with other websites and advertising through Internet-specific methods such as article submissions, blogs and forums, etc. The job of the online media player is to optimize the consumer traffic that can be brought in through various media routes.

Boycotts have, historically, been powerful and effective tools for change. There was the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, in which Martin Luther King, Jr. '...helped to launch a 10-year national struggle for freedom and justice'. Several years later, there was the Grape Boycott, organized by Cesar Chavez, which ultimately convinced grape growers 'to agree to a state law guaranteeing California farm workers the right to organize and bargain with their employers', which led to the creation of the United Farm Workers Union. In the 1980s-90s, there was the Anti-Apartheid Boycott of South Africa. As a result of that call to action, the apartheid laws were repealed, and a new constitution was drafted. It is clear from these examples, what tremendous power to bring about previously denied freedom and liberties that a serious boycott wields.

Increasingly, in recent years, however, the calls for boycotts have not involved lofty ideals of civil or human rights. Boycotts of modern times are being organized, rather, because an increasingly vocal few are seeking to use a boycott in order to impose their morals and beliefs on the freedom and liberties of others. The use of a boycott for such purposes not only erodes the potential impact of any boycott; it is also represents the first step down a slippery slope toward eventual censorship.

The first of this type of boycott to be organized was the boycott of Disney in 1996 by the Assemblies of God, the second largest Pentecostal denomination in the U.S, because Disney World permitted Gay and Lesbian Day to be held at Disney World annually. The Southern Baptists joined in later, because they were concerned about Disney's choice of directors, its choice of which projects to produce, and the corporation's 'equal treatment of employees of all sexual orientations in its insurance plans'. Juxtaposed with the conditions which gave rise to the Montgomery, Grape, and Apartheid boycotts, the complaints by the Pentecostals and Baptists are clearly not on the same level. In those first mighty boycotts, people were being denied basic human and civil rights. Those denials were often accompanied by violence, imprisonment, and brutal subjugation. The boycotts that were unleashed were last resorts in desperate battles for freedom and equality. By contrast, one must ask, to what exactly were the Pentecostals and Southern Baptists being subjected? Who were the victims there?

The 'Disney Boycott' was ultimately ineffective. People still visit Disney World and Disney Land in record numbers, people still watch Disney movies, and little girls still dream of being Disney Princesses. That boycott, however, was just the beginning of the usurpation for illegitimate purposes of a boycott's true power. The day the call came to boycott Disney was the day when a boycott stopped being used to promote such high ideals as freedom and social equality, and started being a barely disguised tool to promote religious intolerance.

The Harry Potter books, for example, have captivated millions of readers worldwide, and have been honored with many literary awards. They have been translated into multiple languages and created countless new readers. Yet, they are targeted for boycott because God does not appear in the books, and because Harry and his friends are witches.

Does Harry Potter worship the Devil in those books? Does he practice human sacrifice? Does he use his powers to commit base and evil acts? Ask most of the supporters of the Potter boycotts those questions, and you will find they simply cannot answer them, and for one simple reason: they haven't read the books.

They wouldn't, therefore, know that Rowling's books deal with some of the very same timeless values these boycotters are trying to teach their children: self-reliance (God helps those who helps themselves, right?); honesty; loyalty; courage; love; compassion; and wisdom. How would these boycotters know this if they have been instructed by the proponents of the boycott never to read them? And why do they feel it necessary to deny others the chance to find out for themselves what the book is really about?

The latest victim of a call to boycott a work of fiction is Philip Pullman, with his trilogy His Dark Materials, more widely known by the title of the first book and the movie, The Golden Compass. The trilogy title alone must have given boycotters a shiver, as evil-sounding as it is. Had boycotters read the work themselves, they would have learned that the title comes from John Milton's Paradise Lost, Book II (to date, modern religious groups have not yet called for a boycott of that work).

I will confess, I myself ignored the call to boycott Disney, went to Disney World with my children, and had a wonderful time. I also ignored the call to boycott the Harry Potter books, read them with my children, and enjoyed them immensely. Neither of those boycotts moved me or frightened me; but now, the shadow of censorship that I see lurking has broken the proverbial camel's back.

My previous responses to calls for boycotts of literature, films, and entertainment conglomerates have been somewhat passive-aggressive in nature. In fact, those boycotts probably inflamed my curiosity more to learn just what the fuss was all about. But this was different: here were people I knew, who seemed rational enough, joining the call to boycott a literary work which they had never personally read.

Now, before I wind up as the next target for boycotting, I must admit, in all fairness, there are some aspects of organized religion in general that are portrayed in a negative light (Catholicism may be one of the most organized and ritualistic of the world's religions, so it stands to reason that a book that is critical of organized religion would feature some prominent characteristics associated with Catholicism.)

Philip Pullman responded to the concerns of people fearful of his 'Catholic bashing' or of his promoting an atheist agenda in this trilogy. His response makes it fairly clear that his real disagreements stem largely from concerns with organized religion in general, not with anyone's God or with Catholicism or with any other "-ism"(Thank you, John Lennon): '...human beings turn so easily toward these structures which give them power over other people: the power to order our lives, to tell us what to do and how to behave, how not to behave, tell us what's right and what's wrong...'.

To Pullman, that kind of power is dangerous, and he is right. The call for the boycott of his work proves it: here we have a large, powerful structure (organized religion) no longer telling us how we should spend our vacations, but lately telling us that we should not be reading books which depict their structure in an unfavorable way or which create a fantastical world in which there is no organized religion. (I believe that Pullman's genre may be called Fantasy for a specific reason, if I'm not mistaken.) This is a concrete illustration of the very fears that Pullman highlights by his depiction of organized religion in his books. Is it a flattering depiction? Not by any means. Is it Catholic bashing? I suppose one could see it that way, if one were highly sensitive to any questioning of one's faith. But for me, it would take much more than a work of outright fantasy to shake my own personal faith and beliefs, nor do I need to impose those beliefs on others by encouraging them to surrender the right to decide for themselves.

My argument here is not that Catholics, or Pentecostals, or Southern Baptists, or religious groups of any faith do not have the right to be offended, or protective of their children's moral upbringing, or hurt, or disgusted, or fearful, or even outraged by unflattering or negative representations of their faith in literary works or motion pictures. My argument here is that, in calling for a boycott of works they have never read, or movies they have never seen, they themselves are upholding the negative impressions that cause people like Pullman to have issues with organized religion in the first place. They are advocating blind censorship, rather than open-minded tolerance of ideas, that are different from their own. They are calling for people to narrow their minds to the width of a single ideology, and calling for others to follow suit. And those people are doing so in increasing numbers, and it is no longer limited to faith-based groups, either.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will note that there was one passage, in the whole of Philip Pullman's trilogy, which I did feel had an agenda, and which I did feel was an unnecessary bash. In one segment of the trilogy, Pullman's youthful hero, Will, is taken in briefly by a figure easily recognizable as a priest. Ultimately, it is implied that the priest molests Will. It was one short passage, but, to be sure, it was jarring in the trilogy as a whole-it did not advance the storyline nor it did not further develop Will's character. From a writer's perspective, I remain perplexed as to why he included it, and could only conclude that in those two to three pages out of a total of nine hundred, Pullman, for me, lived up to the hype of the emails I had received. (Hopefully, the boycotters lighting their torches and grabbing pitchforks with my name carved on them will settle down now.)

In the end, my point is this―even if I did eventually come to the same conclusion as those who called for the boycott, the one critical, and glaring difference between us is this―I read the books (and for the most part, enjoyed them, as well). My decision was not made based on hearsay, or a call from a friend or acquaintance for a boycott of works unread. My conclusion came out of an informed and educated position. That is the only position from which such decisions should be made, but it is a position to which, increasingly, many out there seem to be bent on denying the rest of us access. As James Poniewozik said in the Time article, "Making those educated choices can be overwhelming...But it's in the spirit of democracy, where the ideas are life or death." It is up to those of us who value our freedom, our right to think for ourselves, our right to learn, our right to be insulted, or outraged, or disgusted, or simply entertained, to ensure that we continue to educate ourselves, to ensure that we do not blindly follow the call for a boycott―ultimately, you may decide that a boycott is the proper course of action, but it is everyone's responsibility to make sure that you know what you're boycotting first. Anything less than that is merely a call for censorship, abusing a weapon for freedom.

The most basic need of the human race is to communicate. The entire world will come to a halt or a complete standstill if we do not communicate. Most of the things we see in today's world are a means to satisfy this impulse or need of communication. Radio communication can be labeled as a very indigenous invention by human intelligence that served the need of mass communication or distant communication.

What is a Radio?

A radio is transmission of signals where no wires are required, and which uses the modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below that of visible light. Although it was Nikola Tesla who first demonstrated the feasibility of wireless communications in 1893, Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, was the first to develop workable radio communication. In Italy, he sent and received his first radio signal in the year 1895. Lots of experiments were carried out with the radio, but it was in the early 1930s that amateur radio operators invented single sideband and frequency modulation.

In 1954, Regency introduced a pocket transistor radio, the TR-1, powered by a 'standard 22.5 V battery'. However in 1960, Sony introduced its first transistorized radio, which was small enough to fit in a vest pocket, and was powered by a small battery. Over the next 20 years, except for very high-power uses, transistors replaced tubes almost completely. In the early 1990s, amateur radio experimenters were using personal computers with audio cards to process radio signals, and in the year 1994, the US Army launched an aggressive, successful project to construct a software radio that was to become a different radio on the fly by changing software.

Radio Broadcasting

Radio broadcasting is the distribution of audio signals that transmit programs to an audience. There are wide varieties of broadcasting systems, all of which have different capabilities. It can vary from limited area coverage to national coverage, and can be used to transmit signals globally too, using retransmitted towers, satellite systems, and cable distribution. Satellite radio revolutionaries the entire scenario, it could cover even wider areas, such as entire continents, and Internet channels can distribute text or streamed music worldwide. In the late 1990s, digital transmissions began to be applied to broadcasting.

A broadcast may be distributed through several physical means. If coming directly from the studio at a single station, then it is simply sent to the transmitter from the antenna on the tower. Programming which comes through a satellite, is played either live or recorded for transmission later. Different stations may simulcast the same programming at the same time. Usually, analog or digital tapes or CDs/DVDs are included in another broadcast. The final stage of broadcasting is to get the signal to the audiences. It is done via a station to a receiver or through cable. Internet also brings radio to the recipient.

Internet Radio

Internet radio is an audio broadcasting service transmitted via the Internet. Broadcasting on the Internet is usually referred to as web casting since it is not transmitted broadly through wireless means, but is delivered over the World Wide Web. Internet radio is usually accessible from anywhere in the world. These live radio stations on the Web make it a popular service since everything that is on the radio station is simulcast over the Internet with a net cast stream.

Commercial interests of corporate giants have proven to be a boon to listeners all over the world. I wish this continues and we all benefit from this, at least once for the sake of history, common man will be benefited by war of these big commercial giants. I fancy the day when telepathy will become so strong that we will not require any physical means to communicate, no words―just complete silence and peace and that every one will become a transmitter and a receiver. The rate at which we have grown in past few centuries―who knows someday all our fancies may come true.