Media: Historical and Contemporary Roles
In historical society, the media relied on printed text and even word of mouth. It was much more difficult to disburse information in a timely manner, with delivery systems only being as fast as the horse(s) carrying the information. The first newspaper was published during the colonial period of America (circa 1860) (Vivian, 2011). The publisher, a Bostonian named Benjamin Harris, created controversy by reporting scandalous behavior involving the King of France. If that was not enough, Harris did not receive consent by the governor, which led to an abrupt end of his business (Vivian, 2011). This did not prevent individuals from publishing newspapers that criticized authoritative figures; citizens defied those in positions of power and fought against censorship by the government. Early journalists, and their search for truth and the right of publicizing it established the foundations that modern journalism stands upon. Not only did this change journalism, it also changed society by standing up for the rights of citizens.
Today, the media continues to inform the public and openly criticize the government and other authoritative figures, but many media outlets are not concern about reporting the unadulterated truth. Media outlets tweak statistics and intentionally misquote responses due to bias or to use this dishonest information for nefarious purposes (Hoy, 2002). Spreading inaccurate or bias information can have an adverse effect on society. Depending on the severity of said unfounded information can inflict long-term damage on an already wounded and divided society. The use of examples and exemplars in the reporting of news can result in significant inaccurate perceptions of viewers and may even hamper the credibility of the reporting entity (Arpan, 2009).
Media: Technological Advancements
In order for mass communication to succeed, it must rely on the on technology (Vivian, 2011). The advent of mass media started with the creation of the printing press during the 15th century. This invention made the newspaper, book, and magazine industries possible. Text was mass produced and distributed across the land, which increased literacy and allowed mankind to establish standardized written languages (Vivian, 2011). The printing press made education easier-books, both religious and academic, were put into mass production, allowing individuals to consume information. Society benefitted from what seemed to be a figurative explosion in the educated populous. With the assistance of machines, paper was able to be produced faster and more efficiently, rather relying on shipments of paper.
Advancements in photographic technology allowed printing presses to incorporate visual aids along with text. The technology that made this all possible is known as “halftone”, which was created by Frederick Ives during that 19th century. This process used a myriad of ink dots of varying sizes and shades. Cameras and projectors allowed people to capture images in motion during the latter portion of the 19th century; this made movie production possible. During the 1930s Life magazine provided innovative photograph using slick, white paper, which allowed more intense photography; this intensity gave the photos a more profound visual impact (Vivian, 2011).
Electricity paved the way for the telegraph, a device that sends and receives electrical impulses. A standardized communication system using these impulses was created by Samuel Morse; this communication system is known as Morse Code (Vivian, 2011). Impulses were sent using electricity-conducting wires, which restricted communication to two points. Innovations lead to the discovery of sending and receiving electrical impulses wirelessly, which lifted the previous restriction. This technology was known as railway telegraphy, which aided in the prevention of train collisions (Vivian, 2011).
The television, which was created by Philo Farnsworth in the 1920s, used airwaves to receive signals, transmitting moving pictures on a screen. It took nearly 30 years to develop the infrastructure necessary to send signals over greater distances (Vivian, 2011). The creation of the satellite made it easier to transmit broadcasts, providing accuracy of weather data and geographical maps. More satellites were developed and placed thousands of feet above Earth to boosts radio, telephone, and television signals (Vivian, 2011).
These technological developments allowed mass media to play an even larger role in society. The speed and ease of use that comes with technological advancements allowed mass media to reach areas of the world that were once unreachable. Mankind relies heavily on mass media and the technology it uses because it allows them to keep up with the expedient pace of society. This sense of urgency has made way for globalization; individuals and organizations can connect seamlessly using technology. The world depends on technology to continue thriving and mankind continues to innovate. As technology changes, so does mass media and its role it plays in society.
Arpan, L. M. (2009). The Effects of Exemplification on Perceptions of News Credibility.
Mass Communication & Society, 12(3), 249-270.
Hoy, C. (2002, Jan 14). Media dishonest on media. The Hill Times, , 0. Retrieved from:
Vivian, J. (2011). The media of mass communication (10th ed.). Boston, MA:
Allyn & Bacon.