Mass communication

Mass communication is the process of imparting and exchanging information through mass media to large segments of the population. It is usually understood for relating to various forms of media, as its technologies are used for the dissemination of information, of which journalism and advertising are part. Mass communication differs from other types of communication, such as interpersonal communication and organizational communication, because it focuses on particular resources transmitting information to numerous receivers. The study of mass communication is chiefly concerned with how the content of mass communication persuades or otherwise affects the behavior, the attitude, opinion, or emotion of the people receiving the information.

Normally, transmission of messages to many recipients at a time is called mass communication. But in a complete sense, mass communication can be understood as the process of extensive circulation of information within regions and across the globe.

Through mass communication, information can be transmitted quickly to many people who generally stay far away from the sources of information. Mass communication is practiced multiple mediums, such as radio, television, social networking, billboards, newspapers, magazines, books, film, and the Internet. In this modern era, mass communication is being used to disperse information at an accelerated rate, often about politics and other charged topics. There are major connections between the media that is being consumed, via mass communication, and our culture, contributing to polarization and dividing people based on consequential issues.[1]

Field of studyEdit

In social science, mass communication is a sub-field of communication studies. Mass communication is "the process by which a person, group of people or organization creates a message and transmits it through some type of medium to a large, anonymous, heterogeneous audience."[2] This implies that the audience of mass communication is mostly made up of different cultures, behavior, and belief systems. Mass communication is commonly associated with media studies.

In the United States, the study of mass communication is often associated with the practical applications of journalism, television and radio broadcasting, film, public relations, corporate or advertising. With the diversification of media forms, the study of mass communication has extended to include social media and new media, which have stronger feedback models than traditional media sources.[citation needed]

The history of communication stretches from prehistoric forms of art and writing through modern communication methods such as the Internet. Mass communication began when humans could transmit messages from a single source to multiple receivers. Mass communication has moved from theories such as the hypodermic needle model (or magic bullet theory) through more modern theories such as computer-mediated communication.[citation needed]

Types of mass communicationEdit


Advertising, in relation to mass communication is marketing a product or service in a persuasive manner that encourages the audience to buy the product or use the service. Because advertising generally takes place through some form of mass media, such as television, studying the effects and methods of advertising is relevant to the study of mass communication. Advertising is the paid, impersonal, one-way marketing of persuasive information from a sponsor. Through mass communication channels, the sponsor promotes the adoption of products or ideas. Advertisers have full control of the message being sent to their audience.[3][self-published source?]

Advertising includes the use of paid, earned, or owned media. Paid media is directly through advertising and various business sponsorship campaigns. Earned media occurs through word of mouth, and online social media posts or trends. Owned media is brand websites and other owned content by the business producing the product.[4]


Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on events for presentation through the media. The study of journalism involves analyzing the dissemination of information to the public through media outlets such as newspapers, news channels, radio stations, television stations, and, more recently, e-readers and smartphones.

Alternative journalism deviates from established or dominant types of media in terms of their content, production, or distribution. Alternative journalism utilizes the same media outlets as mainstream journalism, to advocate the interests of those excluded from the mainstream.

Civic journalism (also known as "public journalism") is the idea of integrating journalism into the democratic process. The media not only informs the public, but it also works towards engaging citizens and creating public debate.

Citizen journalism is based upon public citizens actively producing news and information. Citizen journalism deals with the distribution of news by the public, often through the Internet.

Public relationsEdit

Public relations is the strategic communication process of providing information to the public in order to present a specific view of a product or organization. According to Public Relations Society of America, public relations is about influencing and building a relationship between an organization and their publics across various media platforms.[5] Public relations differs from advertising in that it is less obtrusive, and aimed at providing a more comprehensive opinion to a large audience in order to shape public opinion. Unlike advertising, public relations professionals only have control until the message is related to media gatekeepers who decide where to pass the information on to the audience.[3]

Social mediaEdit

Social media, in its modern use, refers to platforms used on both mobile devices and home computers that allow users to interact through the use of words, images, sounds, and video.[4] Social media includes popular sites such as Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook as well as sites that can aid in business networking such as LinkedIn. The use and importance of social media in communications and public relations has grown drastically throughout the years and is now a staple in advertisements to mass audiences. For many newer companies and businesses geared towards young people, social media is a tool for advertising purposes and growing the brand. Social Media provides additional ways to connect and reach out to one targeted audience.[5]

Social media platforms have completely changed the way people communicate. Over the past twenty years, social media has drastically changed, with TikTok, and Instagram joining Facebook and Twitter as some of the leading social media platforms in the world. With more platforms targeting younger generations, audiences are getting bigger. TikTok alone announced that it has over 1 billion active global users, and receives over 18 million views, and has been growing exponentially every year.[6] With content reaching more audencies than ever, brands, companies, and individuals are able to communicate with millions of people all at once.

Social media have introduced new difficulties into relationships. One way this has occurred is through catfishing. The term catfish refers to a person who uses a false online profile on a social media platform. Most commonly, a catfish communicates with another online profile to get them to fall in love with the false persona they created. The MTV reality show Catfish: The TV Show has brought mainstream attention to this issue.[4] The goal of these episodes is to keep track of people who have fallen in love with someone they interacted with online, but never met in person. As catfishing has become a mainstream term, people have wondered how and why it continues to happen. Nev Schulman, host of the show, has said "I think people will always be looking to fall in love. People will always hope for things to get better. For better, or worse, there will always be people who may or may not look to take advantage of that."[7]

Audio mediaEdit

Recorded musicEdit

Recordings, developed in the 1870s, became the first non-print form of mass communication. The invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in the late 19th century, the graphophone by Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Tainter, and the gramophone by The Victor Talking Machine Company were the first competing mass media forms that brought recorded music to the masses.[4] Recording changed again in the 1950s with the invention of the LP (long play) vinyl record, then eight track-tapes, followed by vinyl, and cassettes in 1965. Compact discs (CDs) followed and were seen as the biggest invention in recorded arts since Edison.[8] Nowadays, recorded music is usually listened to using streaming platforms such as Apple Music, Youtube Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, and others becoming the primary sources of listening to music. Even with the progression into digital music, vinyl and cassettes are still extremely popular physical forms of music.


Radio is considered the most widely accessible form of mass communication in the world and the medium used to the greatest degree in the United States.[4] Internet radio has now become increasingly more popular, as radio stations are streaming content through their websites and other applications. Music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify, have also integrated radio features onto the platform.[9] Spotify Radio is a feature that allows Spotify to continuously create a playlist for its users with tracks and podcast segments based on any artist or playlist they wish.


A Podcast is audio file that is recorded and digitally uploaded to an online platform in order to be downloaded and listened to by the general public. Podcasting as a form of mass communication has been rising in popularity over the years. From the 2014 to the year 2019, podcasting has doubled in listeners and has grown by 122%.[7] Just like radio and recorded music, podcasts are available to stream on multiple online platforms like Spotify, Youtube, and Apple music, and some are even recorded in front of a live audience and then uploaded, giving the public a chance to listen to their favoritie podcast hosts live. With the introduction of podcasts in the 2000s, people now can share niche interests, news, and conversations to a larger audience than traditional radio.


Convergence refers to the coming together of telecommunications as forms of mass communication in a digital media environment. There is no clear definition of Convergence and its effects. However, it can be viewed through three lenses: technological convergence, cultural convergence, and economic convergence.[8] Technological convergence is the action of two or more media companies merging in a digital platform and can lead companies to develop new commodities or become part of new sectors and/or economies.[9] Cultural convergence deals with the blending of different beliefs, values, and traditions between groups of people and may occur through the globalization of content. Sex and the City, an American show set in New York City, was viewed internationally and became popular among female workers in Thailand.[8] A study on the consumption of YouTube, conducted by the Information Technology Department and Sociology Department at Cornell University, concluded that cultural convergence occurs more frequently in advanced cosmopolitan areas.[10]

Integrated communicationEdit

Integrated Communication refers to the process of bringing together several types of mass communication to function across the mediascape. Usinge "Paid," "Owned" and "Earned" media (PESO)[11] or "Shared," "Owned," "Earned" and "Paid" (SOPE)[12] as its principal framework, the process considers all methods of communication distribution strategically.

Film and televisionEdit


The film industry began with the invention of the Kinetoscope by Thomas Edison. His failure to patent it resulted in two brothers, Louis and Auguste Lumiere creating a portable camera that could process film and project images.[13] The first public Kinetoscope demonstration took place in 1893. By 1894 the Kinetoscope was a commercial success, with public parlours established around the world.The invention quickly gained notoriety when the Lumiere brothers debuted a series of 60-second clips screened outdoors to a Parisian audience. Despite the ever-growing popularity of moving images, the Lumiere Brothers did not seek to revolutionize the style of the film, but stuck to documenting daily life in France. This set the grounds for future film revolutionaries, including George Melies, who sought to create narrative sequences in his films through the use of special effects.[13] The first 30 years of cinema were characterized by the growth and consolidation of an industrial base, the establishment of the narrative form, and refinement of technology.


In the 1970s, television began to change to include more complicated and three-dimensional characters and plots. PBSlaunched in 1970, and was the home for programming that would not be suitable for network television. It operates on donations and little government funding, rather than having commercials. On January 12, 1971, the sitcom All in the Family premiered on CBS, and covered the issues of the day and portrayed a bigot named Archie Bunker.[13] By 1972, the sales of color television sets surpassed that of black-and-white sets. In the 1980s, television became geared towards what has become known as the MTV Generation, with a surge in the number of cable channels.[14] Of all the mass media today, television attracts the largest number of viewers. Its audience is greater in size than that of any other media audiences. Since television is able to attract the audiences of all age groups, literate and illiterate and of all the strata of the society, it has an enormous audience.


Photography plays a role in the field of technology and mass communication by demonstrating facts or reinforcing ideas. Although the photos are altered digitally, it is still considered[by whom?] a proof to expose and communicate.[15] Photography establishes the basic roles: record great historic events, document sociological and journalistic researches and dynamically influences the mobilization of public opinion toward social and legislative reforms.

History of photographyEdit

Camera obscura was one of the first techniques that lead to creating photos. It could create an image on a wall or piece of paper. Joseph Niepce was a French inventor that took the first photo in 1827 that required 8 hours of exposure. In 1839, Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype that reduced exposure time to about thirty minutes. As the years progressed, so did photography techniques, including creating better image quality, adding color to an image, and reduced exposure time.

Contemporary photography industryEdit

The modern industry has dramatically changed with the development of digital, as phones and digital cameras have made film-based cameras a niche product. Kodak discontinued making a color film in 1999 and declared Bankruptcy in 2012. Other companies like Fujifilm adapted despite a downturn in sales.[8]

Interactive mediaEdit

Video gamesEdit

Video game genres are a classification assigned to a video game based on its game play rather than a visual or storytelling differences. A video game genre is defined by a set of game play challenges and are classified independently of when and where the game takes place. Video games have massed a huge audience with the industry grossing over 90 billion dollars in 2021.[16] Not only are videos games a channel for mass communication, but so are the online platforms used in part with the game. Streamers now go online and broadcast their games on Twitch and Youtube reaching over 140 million users. [17]

Ethics in interactive mediaEdit

Interactive media is a form of communication technique that refers to services on digital computer-based systems. This requires two or more parties who respond to each other through text, moving images, animation, video, audio, and video games.[18] The ethics in interactive media mainly focus on the violence of video games, advertising being influenced in different ways and behavioral targeting.

The violence of video games relates to ethics in interactive media because it brings on aggressive attitude and behavior that impacts the social lives of the people playing these video games.[19] Furthermore, behavioral targeting ties into the ethics of interactive media because these websites and apps on our phones contain personal information which allow the owners or the ones running the companies to receive it and use them for themselves.[20] Interactive media influences advertising because by society using social media or any websites, we are able to see that there's advertising in everything we view especially when your scrolling through Instagram or those pop up ads that come up on your screen reading an article on your computer.


eBooks have changed how people read. People are able to download books onto their devices. This allows consumers to track what they read, to annotate, and to search for definitions of words on the internet.[21] With e-books in education, the increased demand for mobile access to course materials and eBooks for students corresponds with the increased number of smartphones.[22] E- readers such as the Amazon Kindle have advanced over the years. Since its launch in 2007, the Kindle has expanded its memory from 4 GB to 8 GB. In addition, the Kindle has added accessories including games, movies, and music.

Majority theoriesEdit

Communication researchers have identified several major theories associated with the study of mass communication. Communication theory addresses the processes and mechanisms that allow communication to take place.

  • Cultivation theory, developed by George Gerbner and Marshall McLuhan, discusses the long-term effects of watching television, and hypothesizes that the more television an individual consumes, the more likely that person is to believe the real world is similar to what they have seen on television.[23] Cultivation is closely related to the idea of the mean world syndrome, which asserts people who watch the news frequently are more likely to believe the world is a 'mean' place.[24]
  • Contingency theory informs organizations how to communicate ethically with their publics, especially during crisis.[25]
  • Agenda setting theory centers around the idea that media outlets tell the public "not what to think, but what to think about." Agenda setting hypothesizes that media have the power to influence the public discourse, and tell people what are important issues facing society.[26]
  • The spiral of silence, developed by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, hypothesizes that people are more likely to reveal their opinion in public if they believe that they are of the majority opinion, for fear that revealing an unpopular opinion would subject them to being a social outcast. This theory is relevant to mass communication because it hypothesizes that mass media have the power to shape people's opinions, as well as relay the opinion that is believed to be the majority opinion.[27]
  • Media ecology hypothesizes that individuals are shaped by their interaction with media,[28] and that communication and media profoundly affect how individuals view and interact with their environment.[29]
  • Semiotics considers language to be a system. A system that has many different individual parts, these parts are called signs (words, images, gestures, and situations). The system of language changes over time, but what semiotics does is it analyses a system at a certain place in time.[30]

Issues and complicationsEdit

Mass communication had evolved into something that has gone down an unforeseen path where it has become something extremely complicated and has major unintentional repercussions on people. Theorist such as Neil Postman, George Gerbner and authors such as Nicholas Carr have all written extensive pieces on how the overindulged and reliant have become consumed by mass communication and the mediums it utilizes. Upon this reliance there are many complications and issues that have seeped into an increasingly technical and connected society.  

Attention spanEdit

As the multitude of mass communication outlets increases daily the availability of very niche and broad outlets have also increased. This availability and countless opinions being accessed can lead to a skimming activity [31] where authors such as Nicholas Carr have noticed that they have a shorter attention span and are more prone to only skimming an outlet rather than being attentive. This habit is very common as the multitude of sources permit us to only take things at face value. Mass communication began as a term covering radio, print, and television but it was coined before the creation of the Internet, or the “Universal Medium”.[31] The Internet has taken all the risks and complications of the three aforementioned mediums and has incorporated and built further upon them. The ability to have infinite sources of information has created a Peek-A-Boo World[32] effect where the constant flow and availability of information makes certain events be very popular but quickly fizzle out.

Mean world syndromeEdit

This method of perception was coined by the communications scholar George Gerbner and is associated with the impact of mass communication on one's thoughts of the world they live in.[33] It was characterized to explain how people who are constantly subjected to the evils of the world, now made readily available through mass communication, have the sentiment that the world is only evil. Gerbner specifies that context of the violence within a story is also important, it is not the quantity that is the issue, but rather it matters more about how it adds up to tell said story.[33] This conditioning can provoke a reaction of displeasure with the world as it can alter world views and represents the power and darker side of mass communication. The ability to have any form of information to reach anybody around the world in minutes through the internet has only amplified this lens.  

Mass communications and health of publicEdit

Mass communication is necessary for improving awareness and education surrounding public health issues. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, mass communication has been crucial for educating the general public about precautionary measures needed to combat the spread of illness. Mass communication methods surrounding the establishment of effective public health programs include news stories, paid media, and social and digital media.

Components for an effective communications campaign, as per the CDC’s requirements include specific individualized training, guidance, and technical assistance. Included in those is a development of a plan for communication, analysis and awareness of key audiences, the development and preliminary testing of messages and materials, selecting communication channels: print, broadcast, or digital, and communication categories: earned, paid, social or digital media. Along with providing training for the spokesperson, and conducting audience research.[34]

Methods of studyEdit

Communication researchers study communication through various methods that have been verified through repetitive, cumulative processes. Both quantitative and qualitative methods have been used in the study of mass communication. The main focus of mass communication research is to learn how the content of mass communication affects the attitudes, opinions, emotions, and ultimately behaviors of the people who receive the message. Several prominent methods of study are as follows:[35]

  • Studying cause and effect relationships in communication can only be done through an experiment. This quantitative method regularly involves exposing participants to various media content and recording their reactions. To show causation, mass communication researchers must isolate the variable they are studying, show that it occurs before the observed effect and that it is the only variable that could cause the observed effect.
  • Survey, another quantitative method, involves asking individuals to respond to a set of questions in order to generalize their responses to a larger population.
  • Content analysis (sometimes known as textual analysis) refers to the process of identifying the categorical properties of a piece of communication, such as a newspaper article, book, television program, film, or broadcast news script. This process allows researchers to see what the content of communication looks like.
  • A qualitative method is known as ethnography allows a researcher to immerse themselves into a culture to observe and record the qualities of communication that exist there.

Professional organizationsEdit

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication is the major membership organization for academics in the field,[36] offering regional and national conferences and refereed publications. It is a non-profit, educational association for educators, students, and media professionals with annual conferences that specialize in education, research, and public services of various facets of journalism and mass communication.[36] The American Society of Journalists and Authors is the largest organization of independent nonfiction authors, and offers professional development services: which include benefits, conferences, workshops, and advocacy for the entirety of the freelance and publishing communities to develop adequate ethical standards within this field.[37] The National Communication Association is another major professional organization, which aids scholars and researchers within the field by promoting free and ethical communication, and recognizing the study of all forms of communication through inquiry rooted in humanist, social science-based, and aesthetic means.[38] Each of these organizations[39] publishes a different refereed academic journal that reflects the research that is being performed in the field of mass communication, and offers resources for researchers and academics within the field.

Notes for Mass CommunicationEdit


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  16. ^ cycles, This text provides general information Statista assumes no liability for the information given being complete or correct Due to varying update; Text, Statistics Can Display More up-to-Date Data Than Referenced in the. "Topic: Video game industry". Statista. Retrieved 2022-11-14.
  17. ^ Ruby, Daniel (2022-11-08). "Twitch Users — How Many People Use Twitch (2022)". demandsage. Retrieved 2022-11-14.
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  19. ^ Coyne, Sarah M.; Warburton, Wayne A.; Essig, Lee W.; Stockdale, Laura A. (October 2018). "Violent video games, externalizing behavior, and prosocial behavior: A five-year longitudinal study during adolescence". Developmental Psychology. 54 (10): 1868–1880. doi:10.1037/dev0000574. PMID 30234338. S2CID 52304261.
  20. ^ Myers, Patrick (1 January 2016). "Protecting Personal Information: Achieving a Balance between User Privacy and Behavioral Targeting". University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform. 49 (3): 717–747. doi:10.36646/mjlr.49.3.protecting. S2CID 156638434.
  21. ^ Pavlik, John; McIntosh, Shawn (2017). Converging Media; A New Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 70, 107, 108, 219.
  22. ^ Scott, David (2014). "Ebooks in further education". In Hazel Woodward (ed.). Ebooks in Education: Realising the Vision. Ubiquity Press. p. 13. ISBN 9781909188372. JSTOR j.ctv3t5qn1.5.
  23. ^ Gerbner, G.; Gross, L.; Morgan, M.; Signorielli, N. (1986). "Living with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process". In Bryant, Jennings; Zillmann, Dolf (eds.). Perspectives on Media Effects. L. Erlbaum Associates. pp. 17–40. ISBN 978-0-89859-641-0.
  24. ^ "George Gerbner | American journalist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  25. ^ Pang, Augustine; Jin, Yan; Cameron, Glen T (March 2010). Contingency theory of strategic conflict management: Unearthing factors that influence ethical elocution in crisis communication. 13th International Public Relations Research Conference. Coral Gables, Florida. pp. 554–573.
  26. ^ McCombs, Maxwell E.; Shaw, Donald L. (18 August 2017). "The agenda-setting function of mass media". The Agenda Setting Journal: Theory, Practice, Critique. 1 (2): 105–116. doi:10.1075/asj.1.2.02mcc.
  27. ^ Noelle‐Neumann, Elisabeth (1974). "The Spiral of Silence A Theory of Public Opinion". Journal of Communication. 24 (2): 43–51. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1974.tb00367.x.
  28. ^ Postman, Neil (June 2000). The Humanism of Media Ecology (PDF). Media Ecology Association Convention.
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  31. ^ a b Carr, Nicholas (2008-07-01). "Is Google Making Us Stupid?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  32. ^ Postman, Neil (1985). Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the age of Show Business. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 64–80. ISBN 9780143036531.
  33. ^ a b Gerbner, Morgan, M., Earp, J., Jhally, S., & Morris, S. (2010). The Mean World Syndrome Media Violence & the Cultivation of Fear. Media Education Foundation.
  34. ^ Kreslake, Jennifer M. (2019). "Use of Mass Communication by Public Health Programs in Nonmetropolitan Regions". Preventing Chronic Disease. 16: E96. doi:10.5888/pcd16.190014. ISSN 1545-1151. PMC 6716397. PMID 31344335.
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  37. ^ "Home". American Society of Journalists and Authors. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  38. ^ "What is NCA?". National Communication Association. 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
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