MASS COMMUNICATION DEFINED
The process of communicating information to lots of
people at once e.g. via television, radio or newspapers
Messages distributed by institutions such as the
media have the potential to reach very large and
anonymous audiences in a process called mass
Some other definitions:
Mass communication is the technological means of
sending information, ideas and opinions from a mass
communicator to a complex audience. It is also defined
as comprising the institutions and techniques by which
specialized groups such as broadcasters, film
producers and publishers employ technological devices
to disseminate symbolic content to large
heterogeneous and widely disperse audience.
By definition, mass communication is a message
created by a person or a group of people sent
through a transmitting device (a technological
medium) to a large audience or market.
Mass communication occurs when a small number
of people send messages to a large anonymous
and usually heterogeneous audience through the
use of specialized communication media.
The units of analysis for mass communication are the
messages, the mediums, and the audience.
Mass Communication represents the creation and
sending of a homogeneous message to a large
heterogeneous audience through the media
They are large in number.
They are widely dispersed.
Members are unknown to each other.
Mass audience is non traditional & anonymous.
Audience is heterogeneous; it means audience is
from social strata(having different demographic &
Audience is a mass market of consumers.
Mass audience is homogeneous in its choice of some
particular object of interest(like Pepsi, Coke, Bollywood
movies, Mc Donald culture)
Mass audience is an object of management &
Mass audience is non-traditional & anonymous.
Mass culture is a commercial culture.
It is consumed worldwide.
Mass culture is homogenized culture.
It is the result of mass culture & mass
Mass media is any medium used to transmit mass
communication. Until recently mass media was
clearly defined and was comprised of the eight
mass media industries; Books, Newspapers,
Magazines, and Recordings, Radio, Movies,
Television, video & computer games and The
A cell phone or any phone for that matter is not
typically considered to be a mass medium. A
telephone is a simple two way communication
device, capable of serving only few people at time.
Looking at the definition of mass media, it is clear
that a mass medium must communicate a message
to a large group, often simultaneously. However,
modern cell phones are no longer a single use
device. Most cell phones are equipped with internet
access and capable of connecting to the web which
is in fact a mass medium. Does this make cell
phones a mass medium or simply a device to
access the web?
FUNCTIONS OF MASS MEDIA
Before Noticing the functions of Mass Media, Some facts
should be viewed i.e.
Mass communicators are impersonal. They are part of
the institutions they work for and should not be blamed
personally for what comes from the institutions. The
credibility of the message is not for the individual
communicator, but for the institution or the organization
that sends it.
Thus, mass communication deals with collective
sender. For example, a newspaper is not produced
by only one person. The newspaper is the end
results of collective efforts of reporters, editors,
type-setters, proofreaders, designers and printers.
These must be well-trained persons.
The other important area of notice is that mass
communication deals with the concept of mass audience.
Here, there is no common motivation. Audience do not act
together. They belong to different classes-different
education and socio-economic status. The message
communicated in the mass media is open to the public
and everyone has access to it provided she/he has the
mass communication technological device as well as
understands the language in which the message is sent.
Mass communication has a specific method of
feed-back which could be in the form of letters to
the editor, rejoinders, reviews and articles. This
method takes time to go through and it is often
volunteered. Not everybody would have the
capability to do it. Many people also feel lazy to
If this is how mass communication works then what
are the specific functions of the mass media in
Traditional functions of Mass Media:
Media informs public about different events,
happenings and phenomenon. The information flow
is necessary for unity and coherence if we live in
the society of collectivity. Surveillance refers to the
news and information role of mass media. This role
can be subdivided into warning surveillance
associated with the news media (information about
pending threats such as floods, military attack, and
depressed economic conditions) and instrumental
surveillance associated with both news and popular
media (transmission of useful information about
news products, entertainment guides, stock market
Surveillance information also can come from books,
films, television programs, and other types of
literary culture that provides information on human
issues. Information travels quickly via the electronic
media. The benefit of this is instantaneous
awareness; the disadvantage is that misinformation
can travel just as quickly as accurate information,
and speedy dissemination
Education on the policies of governments and on
the rights and responsibilities could be carried out
through the mass media. The media also have a
role in socialization, the transmission of values
within a society, particularly the modeling of
appropriate behavior and attitudes. The notion is
that the mass media present images of society,
which viewers then can learn and adopt for
themselves. This in turn helps create a stable
society with common social values. In its simplest
form, the socialization role of the media gives
people a common discussion topic: yesterday’s
soccer match, the new popular movie.
Television and film have the greatest potential for
Education/socialization because they seem to be the
most realistic. They can be quite influential, particularly
on young people; and images or role models of social
behavior as well as fashion, grooming styles, and other
aspects of social interaction can be presented through
television and film. Their effectiveness is evident in the
similarity of youth culture throughout the world, in which
the only common influence is provided by the media.
Teens and young adults in societies as diverse as
Canada and Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Finland have
many common tastes in fashion, dancing, music, hair
styles, and so on.
The mass media also entertain the public by providing
emotional relaxation, intrinsic and cultural enjoyment
(i.e. provision of momentary escape from problems) and
killing boredom). Entertainment is a related function of
mass media, sometimes called the diversion function
because it diverts us from the real world. Entertainment
always has been part of society, increasingly so in an
age in which more people have a greater amount of
leisure time. Through sound recordings, film, radio and
television, entertainers have been able to attract
audiences around the globe. Painters, sculptors and
poets reach mass audiences through books and
The entertainment function of the media has been
subdivided into three categories: stimulation (as an cure
to boredom), relaxation (as part of an soothing and
perhaps meditative environment), and release (as a
means to safely express anger, hostility or fear).
Sociologists have observed that a consequence of wide-
spread availability of quality media entertainment is that it
may function too well as a diversion. People are
increasingly becoming spectators in music, sports,
theater and so on. It is far easier and perhaps more fun
to watch a soccer match on television played by world-
class athletes and broadcast by top-notch camera
operators than it is to actually work hard, practice often,
and risk injury by personally participating in the game.
Interpretation is the function of mass media that
provides a context for new information and commentary
about its significance and meaning. Traditionally,
newspapers provided such interpretation in their
editorial and commentary sections, reserving news
pages for supposedly neutral information. Reporting was
said to be objective; that is, free from comment and
interpretation. The idea was that reporters would offer
factual information untainted by commentary, and
readers would decide for themselves the significance
and meaning of that information. Such a quest for
objectivity is less apparent today in newspapers, and the
vast amount of television reporting seems to have
blended the news-reporting and commentary functions.
If interpretation is the function, persuasion is the
motivation for the producers of such messages.