Mass media

media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication

Mass media are the collective communication outlets and technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication.

A family listening to a crystal radio in the 1920s.


  • Most progressive developments in the media, of course, are driven by market considerations rather than social conscience. So, for example, the fact that 49 million women are size twelve or over is clearly the motive behind new, flesh-normalizing campaigns created by ”Just My Size” and Lane Bryant. These campaigns proudly show off unclothed zaftig bodies and, unlike older marketing to “plus-size” women, refuse to use that term, insisting (accurately) that what has been called “plus size” is in fact average. It’s a great strategy for making profits (I know they’ve got my ten bucks), but a species of resistance nonetheless. “I won’t allow myself to be invisible anymore.” These ads proclaim, on our behalf. But I won’t be made visible as a cultural oddity or a joke, either, because I’m not. I’m the norm.”
    The amorality of consumer capitalism, in its restless search for new markets, new ways to generate and feed desire, has also created a world of racial representations that are far more diverse now than when I wrote Unbearable Weight.
  • Americans remain largely mistrustful of the mass media as 41% currently have "a great deal" or "fair amount" of trust in newspapers, television and radio to report the news "fully, accurately and fairly." This latest reading represents a four-percentage-point dip since last year and marks the end of improvements in back-to-back years after hitting an all-time low.
    Although trust in the media has edged down this year, it is well above the record low of 32% in 2016 when Republicans' trust dropped precipitously and drove the overall trust reading down during the divisive presidential campaign. Republicans' trust is still at a very low level and a wide gap in views of the media among partisans persists as 69% of Democrats say they have trust and confidence in it, while 15% of Republicans and 36% of independents agree.
  • Gallup first measured trust in the mass media in a 1972 survey when 68% of Americans said they trusted it. Similar levels were recorded in 1974 (69%) and 1976 (72%), but two decades later, when Gallup next asked the question, trust had fallen to 53%.
    Although overall trust was at the majority level until 2004, no more than 21% of Americans dating back to 1972 ever said they had the greatest level of trust. Currently, 13% have a great deal of trust, 28% a fair amount, 30% not very much and 28% none at all.
  • Republicans became increasingly mistrustful of the media in 2016 when Trump was campaigning for president and was sharply critical of the media's coverage of him. Between 2015 and 2016, Republican trust in the mass media fell 18 points to its historical low of 14%, where it remained in 2017. Following a seven-point boost last year, it has returned to 15%. For their part, Democrats have consistently been more trusting of the media than Republicans but rallied around the press and became even more trusting when Trump took office in 2017.
  • The democratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth, and that they do not merely reflect the world as powerful groups wish it to be perceived. Leaders of the media claim that their new choices rest on unbiased professional and objective criteria, and they have support for this contention in the intellectual community. If, however, the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to “manage” public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality.
    • Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992
  • Research on the effect that the media has on the public revolves around two interconnected issues. Does coverage of sensationalistic and violent crime create fear among the general public and does this fear influence criminal justice policy attitudes? Review of the research indicates that there are mixed results regarding the influence of the news media on creating an attitude of fear among the general public (Surette, 1998). In an early study, Gerbner et al (1980) hypothesized that heavy viewing of television violence leads to fear rather than aggression. Gerbner et al (1980) find that individuals who watch a large amount of television are more likely to feel a greater threat from crime, believe crime is more prevalent than statistics indicate, and take more precautions against crime. They find that crime portrayed on television is significantly more violent, random, and dangerous than crime in the "real" world. The researchers argue that viewers internalize these images and develop a "mean world view" or a scary image of reality. This view is characterized by "mistrust, cynicism, alienation, and perceptions of higher than average levels of threat of crime in society" (Surette, 1990:8). Further studies on the relationship between fear and television viewing indicate a direct and strong relationship (Barille, 1984; Bryant, Carveth and Brown, 1981; Hawkins and Pingree, 1980; Morgan, 1983; Williams, Zabrack and Joy, 1982, Weaver and Wakshlag, 1986). Conversely, Rice and Anderson (1990) find a weak, positive association between television viewing and fear of crime, alienation and distrust. However, multiple regression analysis fails to support the hypothesis that television viewing has a direct, substantial effect on fear of crime.
  • Presentations of police are often over-dramatized and romanticized by fictional television crime dramas while the news media portray the police as heroic, professional crime fighters (Surette, 1998; Reiner, 1985). In television crime dramas, the majority of crimes are solved and criminal suspects are successfully apprehended (Dominick, 1973; Estep and MacDonald, 1984; Carlson, 1985; Kooistra et al. 1998, Zillman and Wakshlag, 1985). Similarly, news accounts tend to exaggerate the proportion of offenses that result in arrest which projects an image that police are more effective than official statistics demonstrate (Sacco and Fair, 1988; Skogan and Maxfield, 1981; Marsh, 1991; Roshier, 1973). The favorable view of policing is partly a consequence of police’s public relations strategy. Reporting of proactive police activity creates an image of the police as effective and efficient investigators of crime (Christensen, Schmidt and Henderson, 1982). Accordingly, a positive police portrayal reinforces traditional approaches to law and order that involves increased police presence, harsher penalties and increasing police power (Sacco, 1995).
  • A primary issue with the media’s inaccurate depiction of crime and the criminal justice system is that it socially constructs people’s perceptions about the nature of crime and how the criminal justice system works...One particular concern specific to fictional crime dramas, often referred to as the ‘CSI Effect,’ postulates viewers develop expectations for police and courtroom settings regarding the collection, evaluation, and presentation of physical evidence, including DNA evidence (Dowler, Fleming, & Muzzatti, 2006;Goodman-Delahunty & Tait,2006).
  • In the average American household, the television is turned "on" for almost seven hours each day, and the typical adult or child watches two to three hours of television per day. It is estimated that the average child sees 360,000 advertisements by the age of eighteen (Harris, 1989). Due to this extensive exposure to mass media depictions, the media's influence on gender role attitudes has become an area of considerable interest and concern in the past quarter century. Analyses of gender portrayals have found predominantly stereotypic portrayals of dominant males nurturant females within the contexts of advertisements (print and television), magazines fiction, newspapers, child-oriented print media, textbooks, literature, film, and popular music (Busby, 1975; DurMn, 1985a; Leppard, Ogletree, & Wallen, 1993; Lovdal, 1989; Pearson, Turner, & Todd-Mancillas, 1991; Rudmann & Verdi, 1993; Signorielli & Lears, 1992). Most of the research to date on the effects of gender-role images in the media has focused primarily on the female gender role. A review of research on men in the media suggests that, except for film literature, the topic of masculinity has not been addressed adequately (Fejes, 1989). Indeed, as J. Kate (1995) recently noted, "there is a glaring absence of a thorough body of research into the power of cultural images of masculinity" (p. 133). Kate suggests that studying the impact of advertising represents a useful place to begin addressing this lacuna.
  • The media are slavishly subservient to the entertainment desires of their audience.
    • Patrick J. Hurley, A Concise Introduction to Logic (2000 [Seventh edition], Wadsworth, ISBN 0-534-52006-5), p. 595
  • Insofar as the quantity of new products is an indicator of the health of a cultural sector, the first decade of the new millennium was a veritable golden age in the United States. The number of new albums released more than doubled in the period, from 35,516 in 2000 to 79,695 in 2007 (Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf 2009). The number of Hollywood films released ranged between 370 and 460 in the 1990 and between 450 and 928 in the 2000s, with the peak year in 2006 and some 677 produced in 2009 (MPAA 2006, 2010). Software industry growth has been dramatic, averaging 20%-30% annually until 2009. The video-game sector averaged nearly 17% growth between 2005 and 2008, with growth rates in 2007 and 2008 of 28% and 23% (Siweck 2010) According to the IIPA, the core copyright industries in the United States averaged 5.8% growth between 2003 and 2007 - well above the roughly 3% annual US growth rate in the period (Siwek 2009). According to the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, total media and entertainment spending posted an annual growth rate of 5.3% in the United States between 2002 and 2008 and 6.4% globally (WAN-IFRA 2008). Losses to piracy need to be placed in this context of overall industry growth - and in some cases remarkably rapid growth.
  • When the war finally started, we were ready. On January 16, 1991, CNN anchor Bernard Shaw reported to the world, “The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated . . .”
    As predicted, Iraqi power and communications systems were destroyed by stealth fighter jets and cruise missiles. Every media company based in Baghdad—except CNN—lost power and transmission capabilities. Only CNN broadcast live to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. All channels turned to us for exclusive coverage; there was no place else.
    Back then CNN was the only global 24/7 news channel. That live coverage of war—the first time it had been televised worldwide—transformed the media landscape. CNN became required viewing for informed citizens and heads of state, the one truly global news source. That has changed now, with multiple cable networks and news breaking on social media. But without the investment in journalism from visionary owners such as Turner, today’s networks focus more on commentary than newsgathering.
  • The hypothesis that media violence increases aggressive behavior has been widely studied in experimental research looking at the short-term effects of exposure to violent media stimuli, as well as in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies relating habitual media violence exposure to individual differences in the readiness to show aggressive behavior. Although there is disagreement among some researchers as to whether or not the evidence currently available supports the view that media violence exposure is a risk factor for aggression (Huesmann & Taylor, 2003), most meta-analyses and reviews have reported substantial effect sizes across different media, methodologies, and outcome variables, suggesting that exposure to violent media contents increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in the short term as well as over time (e.g., Anderson et al., 2003; Bushman & Huesmann, 2006; Huesmann, 1982; Huesmann & Kirwil, 2007; Murray, 2008; Paik & Comstock, 1994). Other authors have questioned both the strength of the evidence and its implications (e.g., Ferguson, 2007; Savage & Yancey, 2008). Ferguson and Kilburn (2009, 2010) concluded from their meta-analysis that there was no support for the claim that media violence increases aggressive behavior. However, they acknowledged that experimental studies using proxy measures of aggression did produce substantive effect sizes and were relatively unaffected by publication bias, and their conclusions have been vigorously disputed by others (Anderson et al., 2010; Bushman, Rothstein, & Anderson, 2010; Huesmann, 2010).
    • Barbara Krahé, Ingrid Möller, L. Rowell Huesmann, Lucyna Kirwil, Juliane Felber, and Anja Berger, “Desensitization to Media Violence: Links With Habitual Media Violence Exposure, Aggressive Cognitions, and Aggressive Behavior”, J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Apr; 100(4): 630–646.
  • The incredibly sinister role of the press, the cinema, the radio, has consisted in passing that original reality through a pair of flattening rollers to substitute for it a superimposed pattern of ideas an images with no real roots in the deep being of the subject of this experiment.
  • Conservatives will never win (the American culture war) if they imagine themselves as combatants atop defensive battlements, hurling abuse on the mass media. We need to involve ourselves in the creation of pop culture, and thereby help change how that category is defined. That project starts by creating good content, whether in the form of books, films, TV, music or magazines. If politics is downstream from culture, and culture is largely shaped by entertainment, why are most influential conservatives ignoring the latter? We delude ourselves if we think everything we say or do has to go straight to politics.
  • Remember that CNN, Time Warner, Disney, NBC, Fox News, and the rest are part of the same ideological system, serve the same clientele, and are owned by the same relatively tiny group of people whose interest is to keep things as they are. Memory is an inhibition, a possible threat to their hegemony, just as it is very dangerous for a critic to keep making connections between supposedly un- or nonpolitical institutions like the Supreme Court and the Constitution, and on the other hand, base commercial interests.
    • Edward Said, "American Elections: System or Farce?" (2000), published in From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map (2004)
  • Never has the media been so influential in determining the course of war as during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which, as far as the Western media are concerned, has essentially become a battle over images and ideas. Israel has already poured hundreds of millions of dollars into what in Hebrew is called hasbara, or information for the outside world (hence, propaganda). This has included an entire range of efforts: lunches and free trips for influential journalists; seminars for Jewish university students who, over a week in a secluded country estate, can be primed to “defend” Israel on the campus; bombarding congressmen and women with invitations and visits; pamphlets and, most important, money for election campaigns; directing (or, as the case requires, harassing) photographers and writers of the current intifada into producing certain images and not others; lecture and concert tours by prominent Israelis; training commentators to make frequent references to the Holocaust and Israel’s predicament today; many advertisements in the newspapers attacking Arabs and praising Israel; and on and on. Because so many powerful people in the media and publishing business are strong supporters of Israel, the task is made vastly easier.
    • Edward Said, "Propaganda and War" (2001), published in From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map (2004)
  • While much of the focus of present-day media praise and damnation seems focused on video sources (including those online), radio "was there first." Many complaints about present-day television and cable were first directed at radio, such as a fear that violent or suspenseful programs would overly excite children's imaginations with untold effects over time. Radio also established many elements of present-day electronic media industry structure. Much of what we both enjoy and bemoan today, in other words, was accomplished (or inflicted) by radio long before television or more recent digital options became a reality.
    For example, that American broadcasting would depend on advertising was pretty much decided by the late 1920s, despite several concerted efforts (before and after passage of the benchmark 1934 Communications Act) to open up greater opportunities for other funding options. In turn, advertising support meant that American radio would be primarily a medium of entertainment (to attract the largest possible audience for that advertising) rather than the public or cultural service that developed in nations with other approaches to financial support. That national networks would dominate radio news and entertainment in the years before the coming of television (which would later and very quickly adopt the same patterns) was a fact by the early 1930s with only minor modifications at the margins over the years. The government would have to selectively license broadcaster access to limited spectrum space was obvious by the early 1920s; such a process only became fully effective in 1927. And that government would have little to do with American radio program content, though this has again varied over time, was made clear in the laws of 1927 and 1934, reinforced by numerous court decisions in the years that followed.
If you aren't careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. ~Malcolm X,
  • [C]onsider duties to persons in need, but at a great distance. Prior to the advent of mass media of communication, the duties of many Christians to such persons were considerably different than they are now. Today to the advent of mass media of communication, the duties of many Christians to such persons were considerably different than they are now. Today, because all moderately prosperous Christians in the West are capable of knowing about, for example, starvation or AIDS in Africa, and are also capable of providing aid, many of those Christians, perhaps the great majority, will have some obligation to contribute to the aid of such suffering Africans. Their plight now is practically relevant to Christians in the West in a way that it simply was not two hundred years ago.

  • The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he's a the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he's the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal. If you aren't careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
    If you aren't careful, because I've seen some of you caught in that bag, you run away hating yourself and loving the man — while you're catching hell from the man. You let the man maneuver you into thinking that it's wrong to fight him when he's fighting you. He's fighting you in the morning, fighting you in the noon, fighting you at night and fighting you all in between, and you still think it's wrong to fight him back. Why? The press. The newspapers make you look wrong.
    • Malcolm X, Speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem (13 December 1964), later published in Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements (1965), edited by George Breitman, p. 93

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