Media are the modes or tools utilized to transfer and store data or information. The word refers generally to elements of the mass media communication systems, like print media, broadcasting, television, music, film, and photography. It may also refer to digital devices, which are typically electronic gadgets that store information electronically.
The field of media studies is increasingly expanding because the influences of the modern age – technological change, globalization, social trends, new media technology, telecommunications, and even changing consumer tastes – have affected all facets of public relations. Thus, the study of media has become important in the study of PR, especially given the increasing role of the Internet and digital media in the modern society. The impact of newspapers, magazines, and other traditional media on society and public opinion has decreased over the years. However, a rapid growth of online media and social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter has given rise to a new set of challenges for the media specialists, media managers, and communicators.
Television, radio, and movies are still predominant modes of entertainment, but the rapid expansion of Internet video and social media websites has changed the rules for how the media is presented and distributed. For example, in recent times, network news shows have turned to controversial, even polarizing topics in order to grab the audience’s attention. Similarly, during elections, candidates try to tap into voters’ sentiments by making campaign promises that seem impossible to reach within the foreseeable future. However, these issues become much more digestible when they are presented through the medium of network news and multimedia. In addition, several news channels have adopted the “go viral” formula to ensure widespread coverage of their stories. Video clips of politicians making apparently impossible promises have gone viral, and this has created a sense of accountability for politicians who feel they cannot get things done through the traditional political processes.
Video games, which can now be found in nearly every home, provide another way in which the media is influencing how society thinks. One study found that children who play video games are more likely to express hostile ideas compared to those who do not. Similarly, survey studies on American adults who play computer and video games found that they spend more time playing war games, shoot em ups, and action games than the average person. The results of a survey conducted on over one hundred thousand internet users concluded that a major reason for the popularity of video games is that it gives people an outlet for venting their anger and other negative feelings.
While many media outlets have tried to curb this trend by banning some types of content, these efforts often fail. The increasing clout of media conglomerates and major players in the industry makes it difficult for smaller companies to gain a foothold. As a result, there is little incentive for newsrooms or media outlets to produce content that they deem controversial and at odds with their own point of view. In the long run, this results in an unintentional fringe effect of increased media viewership: viewers who are passionate about a given issue are more likely to share that opinion, spreading the controversial information further and creating a greater presence for issues beyond the initial topic.
Although a smaller number of individuals consume most of the media that is available to them, as well as the amount of time that they plan to spend on the Internet, a large number of individuals still feel that the mass media include an overall negative influence on society. This means that the number of individuals who still care about controversial topics is small compared to the total population that regularly interacts with both print and television. For this reason, it is not surprising that there is little evidence that the influence of the media has reduced societal norms.