The Mass Media
News travel faster today than ever before. We see, hear and read more about world events than any other generation in history. Radio, newspapers, TV - nobody can live without them. But today also the Internet has become very important for business. The mass media play an immensely important part in modern society as a source of information and entertainment. In former times people generally found out what was happening in the world via the press, nowadays the main sources of information for most of us are TV, radio and the internet.
But what is the media?
Media is the plural of medium, which means a channel through which information is transmitted. But that\'s not very exact. It doesn\'t tell us what kind of channel or what kind of information. For example: are TV advertisements a part of the media? Some people say yes, others say no. And what about films, novels or songs? If you include all of them, a list of the media looks like this: advertising, book publishing, cinema, newspapers, magazines and comics, radio, TV, video. But if you limit your definition of information to facts, the list becomes shorter: The Press, Radio and TV. These are the news media which tell us, day by day, what\'s happening in the world.
How free is the media?
Well - it varies from country to country. In some cases there are very few limits on what journalists can report. Other governments are slightly less liberal. And then there's a third group of countries which control their media very strictly. In cases like this, broadcasters and journalists who break the law are frequently sent to prison or sometimes even killed e.g. in Serbia-Montenegro, the Iran and the Ukraine.
What is news and how is it collected?
Several factors make a good newspaper story. First - obviously- it must be NEW. But since TV can react so quickly, this is often a problem for newspapers. They usually respond to it in one of these ways:
▄ By providing extra detail, comment or background information
▄ By finding a new angle on the day\'s major stories
▄ Or by printing completely different stories which TV doesn\'t broadcast
But the stories also have to be dramatic, because people don\'t want to read about ordinary, everyday life. Because of this, many stories involve some kind of conflict and danger. This is one reason why such a lot of news seem to be bad news. Next, there\'s human interest. People are interested in other people - particularly lives of pop stars, actors, politicians and royalty - all appear regularly in certain newspapers.
Newspapers came into being in the 16th or the 17th century. The first newspaper known was published in 1605 in Wolfsburg, Germany. One of the oldest newspaper knows is the "The Times" from London, it was first published in 1748. Very important German newspapers are "FAZ", "SZ", and "NZZ". Newspapers international very important are "NYT" and "Washington Post" in the USA, the "Corriere della Sera" in Italia and "Le Mond" and "Liberation" in France.
In Austria the most important newspapers are "The Standard" and "Die Presse". But "Die Kronen Zeitung" is read by more people than "TS" and "DP" together.
Various facts influenced the genesis of newspapers. A very important one was the invention of the book printing by Gutenberg with moveable letters made of lead. This made it possible to publish regularly information for a higher number of people at a lower price.
Two factors influenced the progress of newspapers:
▄ The central position of cities for important post- and trade ways that provides always news.
▄ More people went to school and so there were not so many illiterates.
There are different forms of newspapers:
« Daily newspapers which are published every day, some times not on Sundays.
« Weekly newspapers which are published once a week.
« And tabloid newspapers which are published regularly e. g. twice a month or once a month,. Tabloid newspapers are for example "Die Bild Zeitung" in Germany, "Tńglich Alles" in Austria. This newspapers report about national and sometimes international popular people for example actors, pop stars, royalty and so on in an extreme way. Not everything you can read there is 100 per cent true.
For more than three centuries newspapers had the monopole of publishing current political and society news. But then first the radio, then television and last the internet came into being.
A revolutionary change in our way of life came with the development of the radio. From 1920 onward it became a fad everywhere. By the end of the 30\'s there was a wireless set in nearly every home and people began to turn to the radio for information and entertainment. Today we have transistors, sometimes combined with cassettes or CD-players, which provide us with non-stop programmes. We can choose between broadcasts, of high cultural value, regional programmes of strong local interest, and popular music, sport and hourly new broadcasts. But the importance of the radio has diminished with the growth of television. But especially for older people it\'s still good entertainment. The radio is also a good way to inform car drivers what\'s happening on the world\'s streets.
Another popular form of entertainment today is TV. It has become more and more popular in the last 20 years, because it brings the world into your home. The majority of people in industrial countries own a TV set. TV can be very useful. You can see information, school programs or language programs. Many people think that TV has more disadvantages than advantages. The main effect that it produces is that owners of a set stay at home much more and tend to give up going to parties, hobbies and other occupations which had previously filled their evenings. But as conversation in a darkened room is difficult, TV has detrimental effect on family life. There is, too, a real danger that TV, by constantly showing scenes of war, crime and brutality, may make people indifferent and callous to the real problems of life, turning them into non-thinkers.
History of television: The first TV-set was build in 1926 by John Logie Baird. It was a very simple machine, which could project one picture on a wall.
In 1936 the first broadcasts were sent in Great Britain with black and white pictures, then in 1956 coloured TV was developed in the USA.
Since 1980 there have been 4 major developments.
▄ The first development was video, which has given viewers the power to control what they watch and when they watch it.
▄ The second was satellite TV, available to anyone who buys a receiving \"dish\".
▄ The third development is cable - a system of hi-tech wires, which provides even more channels at one price.
▄ Fourthly, there\'s High Definition Television (HDTV), which now offers a much clearer and more realistic picture than possible even a few years ago.
So ... more channels, more choice, more clarity. What is there left for TV in the future? The answer to that is the two-way communication. Viewers will be able to ask questions (via remote control) what they are watching and the answers will appear on their screens. This idea is called \"hyper media\" and it\'s still in at early stage. But then, as we\'ve just seen, TV has come a long way in a short time. The hyper-media revolution could happen sooner than many people think.
Millions of people are using the net to share information. You can do many things with the Internet. There are no limits. Companies use the Internet for advertisements or online shopping.
It allows you to exchange nearly every kind of data within a few minutes. Communication between companies around the world is nearly the same as if your partner was located next door. On the Internet, there\'s no physical distance.
In the 1960es the army of the USA started to connect several computers. It was called ARPANET. A few years later the computers were removed and it was called Internet. At the beginning of the 1980es it arrived Europe and private people used it as online services were offered.
Today\'s offices usually have PC on every desktop. Why shouldn\'t we fill in forms on the screen and finally click on \"submit\" instead of printing and posting them? Teaching on the internet is much more difficult. The interaction between teacher and students can\'t be replaced by a machine.
Very often, \"learning by doing\" must be done under the control of someone, e. g. a chemistry teacher. But there is a way of teaching on the Internet. Tele teaching via television sets has been used for many years now. Recently, an American firm has developed a product for efficient video transfer on computer networks. This could be used for teaching on the internet.
The technical possibilities are given and I think that there is much future in the internet itself. But we have to learn to use it correctly. Of course, the Internet will grow. Today it is a highly effective tool. But, will it be the same in the future.
Summing up, mass media plays an important part in our lives. It is up to us to derive not only entertainment but also information and instruction from the different types of media. As we can see, mass media, in all its forms, affects our lives daily. Everything from newspapers to world wide radio stations tell us what\'s happening in the world.
In the future, we will continue to witness the growth of the media industry.