Media are broadly divided into two broad categories: print and broadcast. The Internet has largely acted as a medium for broadcast media, since a greater number of individuals worldwide obtain their daily news, sports, etc. online. Broadcast Media refers to TV and radio, which recently came on the scene in the middle and end of the twentieth century respectively.
Print media, on the other hand, refers to magazines and newspapers. This type of media facilitates direct human communication, unlike broadcast media, which facilitate communication via various broadcasting stations and networks. Both forms of media are essential elements of modern society. Without the existence of print media, modern society would quickly become a one-way communication process, with information being exchanged orally or through other means. Furthermore, newspapers and magazines play an important role in the dissemination of critical and current events, thus contributing to a healthier culture.
Early forms of media such as fire-fighting, photography, signage, and the news-making processes were vital components of human communication. As time progressed, the development of new technology, particularly electronic media such as the telephone and radio, made it possible for increased communication. However, the evolution of electronic media brought with it new problems, such as its effect on the environment and the effects of global warming. In addition, the impact of late modernism and the turn of the century saw a significant decline in the importance of print media as a vehicle of mass communication. Since then, the term media has become increasingly vague, referring to any means of communication including visual and auditory arts, books, films, and music that disseminate information and interact with the audience.
With the increasing sophistication of the new media, the role of media in society has become blurred. Consequently, there is now a tendency to disregard the notion of media as an entity and substitute it with terms such as digital media, computer-based media, or electronic information systems. The rise of blogging, social networking, instant messaging, podcasts, and video production has challenged the traditional media’s dominance. Media scholars have provided explanations for the changes by referring to social, technological, and economic factors that contributed to the increasing influence of digital media on society. Furthermore, there is increasing debate over whether the term media can accurately define and predict the future of communications technologies. There are still debates on whether or not the media can truly be classified as an entity.
The meaning of media is influenced by the various mediums of communication that emerged. First, all existing forms of media reproduced their content via the various existing means of transportation and communication. Second, print media reproduced the content of newspapers and established the rules and format for reporting and editing. Third, television showed people videos that displayed news stories and announcements. Fourth, magazines and news papers published images and stories for the general public, and fifthly, radio broadcasted music and talkshows. Thus, the modern society refers to all existing forms of media, even though some refer to only one medium, such as television.
Because of the extensive uses of media, some media scholars believe that media shape public opinion, especially when it comes to issues concerning public life, governance, and society. Mass media, for instance, gave rise to the notion of mass opinion through the sensational, biased, and distorted images broadcasted to the public through the mass media. This then formed the foundations of journalism, which often reported newsworthy events in a non-biased manner in order to capture the audience’s attention. Mass media also shaped the concept of public debate through the extensive use of manipulative advertising and manipulative media strategies, such as direct marketing and sponsorship, that further defined the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable content. Furthermore, mass media has made individuals and groups define and critique themselves through the messages communicated by the media, forming the basis of democracy in modern society.