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Books, magazines, and newspapers (Features, Functions, Trends & Convergence).

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Books, magazines, and newspapers (Features, Functions, Trends & Convergence).

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This describes the features and functions of books, newspapers, and magazines. It also describes how certain technological, economic, and political trends have influenced each of these mass media.

This describes the features and functions of books, newspapers, and magazines. It also describes how certain technological, economic, and political trends have influenced each of these mass media.

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Books, magazines, and newspapers (Features, Functions, Trends & Convergence).

  1. 1. Aditi Verma – 0302985 Books, Newspapers, and Magazines – Features and Functions Today, digital media is a prominent part of our busy lives, but the traditional print media has not lost its significance either. Over thousands of paperbacks are still released every year around the globe, bookshops and libraries are still popular almost everywhere, and stacks of newspapers and magazines can still be found in airport lounges, hospital waiting rooms, salons etc. Books are one of the oldest mass media with valuable features. They have cultural impacts that reform an existing societal phenomenon or promote a new one. For example, while Uncle Tom’s Cabin contributed towards changing the society’s attitude towards slavery, Harry Potter series helped to instigate the interest of reading among children in the society. Books are also very durable. They have been around since the 15th century and people usually prefer to keep their books even after finishing them contrary to deleting downloaded books to free memory space. Books also serve useful functions such as transmission of culture from generation to generation. Although they are not the only media that serve this function, they still play a role in teaching societal norms to new generations and immigrants. Moreover, religious texts such Bible, Koran etc. also impart cultural morals and values to people. Books also help in diffusion of ideas and knowledge, and provide education. For example, textbooks focus on subjects such as arts, literature, science etc., while fiction and non-fiction books convey moral values, imaginative concepts, and factual knowledge. Books also provide entertainment. People read to escape into a fantasy world – to ‘forget’ reality – and also just for the pleasure it provides. For 1
  2. 2. Aditi Verma – 0302985 example, reading the Da Vinci Code will enable one to experience the thrill of suspense that real world doesn’t offer. Newspapers are another traditional mass media that have been around for a long time and diverse content is their key feature. One newspaper covers national, international, entertainment, sports etc. news. Newspapers are also conveniently packaged being organized content-wise into sections like entertainment, sports, advertisements etc. Each story comes with a headline. Then, most newspapers are a good local source of news. They cover the happenings locally – be it a sports event, merchandise sale, or school council meetings. Furthermore, newspapers serve as a historical record of events. Newspaper journalism has even been referred to as “the first draft of history” (Dominick 2011, p.92). They can give anyone an idea into what a time period was like by simply reading newspapers from that period. Besides, newspapers are the watchdogs of society. They monitor what is going on in the government and private industries, and inform the public of any threats or trends. Finally, newspapers are timely i.e. they provide fresh news as soon as possible. They are also portable and inexpensive to produce. Newspapers serve important functions in society such as surveillance. They inform the readers about events and issues taking place around them such as new films released in theatres, new products released on the market, and any crimes like murders that occurred. Newspapers also perform correlation by interpreting aspects of society, and the individual to society, including how various media shape public opinion through comments and criticism, and propaganda (Pavlik & McIntosh 2004, p.78). For example, the newspapers’ portrayal of LGBT as unacceptable and against social norms is correlation. Lastly, newspapers are also a source of 2
  3. 3. Aditi Verma – 0302985 entertainment. For example, horoscopes, comic strips, crosswords, celebrity gossip etc. in the ‘entertainment’ section. Magazines are another traditional media with unique features. They attract specialized audiences and reach precise demographic, occupational, interest, political, geographic, or other specific groups. For example, Vogue caters to people interested in fashion. Magazines are well- versed with social, demographic, and economic trends of society and publish content related to the corresponding trends. For example, magazines previously never featured pornographic content, but in today’s era, there are a lot of magazines featuring it. Furthermore, magazines influence social trends. For instance, the Playboy magazine fueled the ‘sexual revolution’ in the 1950s, and the fashion magazines today set a lot of fashion trends. Also, magazines involve more long-form writing, are published at intervals of time, and are made of higher quality paper stock than newspapers. The functions of magazines include surveillance but instead of specializing by reporting on local geographic communities like newspapers, they specialize by subject matter covering narrow topics such as science, health etc. Another function of magazines is correlation which they do by interpreting aspects of the content for their readers. Magazines also perform the entertainment function as they usually contain a lot of entertaining content. For example, Reader’s Digest has small sections of jokes and riddles. Magazines also serve the function of marketing goods and services. In fact, often readers spend more time looking at ads than reading editorial content as they browse a magazine (Pavlik & McIntosh 2004, p.93). 3
  4. 4. Aditi Verma – 0302985 Books, Newspapers, & Magazines – How trends and convergence affect forms & functions? The media, being a human construction, is greatly affected by societal trends. It is dynamic and changes as its ‘environment’ changes. Political, economic, and technological trends in society affect the media the most. For instance, books are being affected by a current economic trend of increasing mergers and consolidation in the industry. Mergers and consolidations reduce the operating costs of publishing the books, and increase the profit margins. Moreover, size enables the book publishing giants to negotiate on terms with retail giants – facilitating good display locations on bookstores and online. So, more books are released and made available easily, causing more people to read. As readership increases, the imparting of knowledge also increases. Therefore, mergers and consolidations help in facilitating the function of diffusion of ideas and knowledge to the public. Furthermore, the technological trend of digitalized media has influenced the evolving form of the books. More and more electronic books and online booksellers have become popular, so that people carry e-books on their kindles and iPads, rather than paperbacks and hardcovers in their bags. Lastly, a latest political trend of growing spiritual activism among political leaders, also affects the book industry. As more democrats openly discuss their faith and spiritual life (and win extra votes) during elections, new books such as God’s Politics and Spiritual Politics are released into the market looking at politics through spiritual lenses. This trend affects the function of diffusion of knowledge and ideas of books as authors begin writing about the spirituality angle in politics, new ideas are distributed to the public in light of the changing form of politics and people are educated about this kind of politics. The type of political government a nation has also affects the operation of the books as 4
  5. 5. Aditi Verma – 0302985 in an authoritarian type of government, all political books published will never criticize the government, while in a libertarian type, there will be political books supporting the government, and those criticizing it. Newspapers are affected by an economic trend of concentration of ownerships. As one corporation has several newspaper companies under it, the news that all those newspapers provide will be a one-sided view – it will be biased towards the main corporation’s perspective. This affects the correlation function of the newspapers, as instead of getting different points of view readers only get one point of view and one kind of interpretation from various newspapers. The technological trend of increased internet usage has affected the form of newspapers today as more online news portals, and twitter news accounts etc. have gained popularity. Instead of subscribing to print dailies, people now read news with simply a click – anytime, anywhere. Moreover, this has affected the timeliness of newspapers as readers don’t have to wait a day to know events, but they are informed in five minutes after it occurs. The surveillance function of newspapers is affected by a political trend of web campaigning for elections. Nowadays, politicians are moving towards online campaigning – updating their stand, speeches, offers etc. instantly – as opposed to publishing such information in newspapers and waiting a day for it to reach the audience. Thus, the newspapers lose the opportunity for performing the surveillance function fully in regards to the ongoing political campaign. An economic trend affecting magazines currently are increased mergers and acquisitions. As bigger corporations take over magazine companies, the marketing of goods and services function of those magazines are affected since the ‘big name’ of the magazine ownership attracts more and better advertisers, causing the magazine to have increased number 5
  6. 6. Aditi Verma – 0302985 of ads, and also ads of better products than before it was merged with or acquired by the corporation. The technological trend affecting magazines is the increased use of the internet. As internet becomes more prevalent, online magazines and “zines” gain popularity. This affects the form of the magazines as people are more inclined towards online content rather than print magazines. A political trend that affects magazines today is the open discussion on issues of LGBT such as same-sex marriage among political leaders. As politicians discuss these issues with the public, magazines publish content in tune with their views. For example, USA supports same-sex marriage so a lot of magazine articles and advertisements show it in a positive light, while Malaysia is against it, so articles are also published against the issue, thus facilitating the surveillance function. (1535 words) ** Reference List Dominick, JR 2011, The Dynamics of Mass Communication: Media in transition, 11th edn, Mc- Graw Hill, New York. McLaughlin, C 2006, Hot New Political Trends, The Center for Visionary Leadership, viewed 14 October 2012, < http://www.visionarylead.org/articles/new_pol_trends.htm> Pavlik, J & McIntosh, S 2004, Converging Media: An introduction to Mass Communication, Pearson Education, Inc., USA. 6

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