Mass communication is the study of how people exchange information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time. In other words, mass communication refers to the imparting and exchanging of information on a large scale to a wide range of people. It is usually understood to relate newspaper, magazine, and book publishing, as well as radio, television and film, even via internet as these mediums are used for disseminating information, news and advertising. Mass communication differs from the studies of other forms of communication, such as interpersonal communication or organizational communication, in that it focuses on a single source transmitting information to a large number of receivers. The study of mass communication is chiefly concerned with how the content of mass communication persuades or otherwise affects the behavior, attitude, opinion, or emotion of the person or people receiving the information.
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." This implies that the audience of mass communication are mostly made up of different cultures, behavior and belief systems. Mass communication is regularly associated with media influence or media effects, and media studies. Mass communication is a branch of social science that falls under the larger umbrella of communication studies of communication
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.
In the United States, the study of mass communication is often associated with the practical applications of journalism (Print media), television and radio broadcasting, film, public relations, or advertising. With the diversification of media options, the study of communication has extended to include social media and new media, which have stronger feedback models than traditional media sources. While the field of mass communication is continually evolving, the following four fields are generally considered the major areas of study within mass communication. They exist in different forms and configurations at different schools or universities, but are (in some form) practiced at most institutions that study mass communication.
Advertising, in relation to mass communication, refers to 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 goods, services or ideas. Advertisers have full control of the message being sent to their audience.
Broadcasting is the act of transmitting audio and/or visual content through a communication medium, such as radio, television, or film. In the study of mass communication, broadcasting can refer to the practical study of how to produce communication content, such as how to produce a television or radio program. When broadcasting through radio and television, the entertainment and information can be distributed by wire and wireless to other radio stations, television stations, and networks. The channels offer informative and entertaining content of general and specific interest. Along with radio and television broadcasting, those presenting the information could present the information live or recorded.
Journalism, is the collection, verification, presentation, and editing of news for presentation through the media, in this sense, refers to the study of the product and production of news. The study of journalism involves looking at how news is produced, and how it is disseminated to the public through mass mediaoutlets such as newspapers, news channel, radio station, television station, and more recently, e-readers and smartphones. The information provided pertains to current events, trends, issues, and people.
Public relations is the process of providing information to the public in order to present a specific view of a product or organization. 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.
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.
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:
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication is the major membership organization for academics in the field, offering regional and national conferences and refereed publications. The International Communication Association and National Communication Association (formerly the Speech Communication Association) are also prominent professional organizations. Each of these organizations publishes a different refereed academic journal that reflects the research that is being performed in the field of mass communication.
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