The world constantly changes, from one’s daily activities, to the events happening around them. Sometimes, people tend to find themselves out of the loop because they cannot follow the changes happening around them. However, they do not need to do heavy research to return them back to the growing changes happening in the country or in the globe as an immediate source is available to them. This source is seen in a variety of mediums, from paper to visual, they call it media. The term “media” is the plural form of the word “medium”, noted as a source or method for communication and sharing information without the need to be in direct contact to the audience. Nowadays, media can constitute a variety of new technologies to present its purpose of sharing information and communicating with people. Some prominent examples to these types of media platforms are television, cinemas, videos, photos, advertising, newspapers, and even through the internet. These platforms are commonly available for free, such as television and the internet; while others are bought for a fee like newspapers, magazines and cinemas. These media platforms are usually considered and called as “mass media”, because it concentrates information to a larger audience or group. However, there are cases that these media platforms concentrate on a smaller and specific audience, depending on the information they are trying to convey like in advertisements and articles.
Information derived from media platforms is classified as “media texts”. Media texts use four different codes to get their target audience or group to understand and take interest to the information they wish to convey. The first code is the code of sound wherein media text uses music, speech or sound effects to give emphasis to the information or idea being conveyed. The second code is the code of written language wherein words and writing intonations give the emphasis needed. Codes of moving and still graphic images are the third and fourth codes used to convey information and message. Depending on what media platform a person uses, media texts utilize at least one or two of these codes to present the information. Some of the media platforms capable of utilizing all four codes of media text presentation are television, cinemas, and the internet as they can utilize sound, video, written language and images in any type of genre and presentation style .
Media text and its capacity to influence the audience can vary, depending on which medium will be used, and its capacity to reach a wider span of audience. Traditional mass media, for example, varies from the audiences, time, and distribution. In terms of time, traditional mass media such as newspapers, books, and magazines are distributed to the public in an asynchronous manner since they receive information in a delayed period. Radio programs and television broadcasts provide synchronous or on-time distribution as they report it on a real-time format. Distribution of information from traditional mass media is also limited as radio and television networks can only into certain parts of the country, which affects their audience reach. Newspapers, books, and magazines also have to be delivered physically to the location, which may be delayed depending on the location of their regional distributors. Audience’s behaviour for traditional mass media also varies in its capacity to become interactive, like voting for their favourites in their favourite entertainment programs or reporting events through the phone. However, this is seen as a form of feedback rather than interactivity. Electronic or modern media, such as the internet, can easily reach a worldwide audience as it can generate information in real-time and in any format. The internet becomes the medium for many people to receive, listen, interact, and learn about any topic they wish no matter where they are. Gadgets also enable users to view media through video, audio and interactive formats .
The media can influence the public through their media preference or through their age groups. The older generation remembers that television is not an important necessity in their period, considering it to be a luxury. For the younger generation, media is a necessity and cannot live without it. Mass media or media play a key role in shaping a person’s perception and ideas pertaining to social issues and norms. In one instance, crime rates have decreased because people developed a fear of crime since they hear about it in television or in radio. Some audiences tend to develop a sense of blind trust to television and media, believing they present authentic and accurate information. However, news programs are usually fabricated to fit the social preference of their audiences. The media also develops a narrow, and so-called “ideal” concept of what a person is and what they are capable. One example to this is the concept of beauty, which is often portrayed depending on the cultural trend in society. The media also distorts the realities of gender and minorities, as seen in television commercials and programs wherein men are seen as the dominant one in the family. Women and minorities are seen portraying roles as the maid or the weak one, although this trend has changed throughout the years as men are seen doing women roles while women are now the heroines of most shows .
Depending on a person’s viewpoint and how he interprets the media, it can be a platform for learning and discovery, and at the same time, a key factor in changing one’s perception over social issues and norms. It is important to keep an open mind when it comes to media as personal experiences, and traditional information gathering are still the best means to develop and understand the changes happening in the environment, and by understand each side of the arguments presented in media. Without this, one may never be able to understand the truth behind events, and thereby foregoing the quest for truth and knowledge.
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Medoff, N., & Kaye, B. 2010. Electronic Media: Then, Now, and Later. Burlington: Focal Press.