Mass Media: Characteristics of Mass Media

Mass media is any transmission of information that reaches large numbers of people, usually within a short time frame, in a one-to-many communication flow. It can also be referred to as mass communication. The information transmitted could be news, entertainment, advertising or public service announcements.

Types of Media

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Newspapers
  • Outdoor advertising such as billboards
  • Magazines
  • Movies, concerts, shows, and events that attract large crowds
  • Internet websites
  • Social media
  • Mobile
  • Email

Characteristics of Mass Media

5 Characteristics of mass communication have been identified by sociologist John Thompson of Cambridge University:

  1. Comprises both technical and institutional methods of production and distribution” This is evident throughout the history of mass media, from print to the Internet, each suitable for commercial utility.
  2. Involves the “commodification of symbolic forms” As the production of materials relies on its ability to manufacture and sell large quantities of the work; as radio stations rely on their time sold to advertisements, so too newspapers rely on their space for the same reasons.
  3. Separate contexts between the production and reception of information”.
  4. Its “reach to those ‘far removed’ in time and space, in comparison to the producers”.
  5. Information distribution one to many form of communication, whereby products are mass-produced and disseminated to a great quantity of audiences.