The media (sometimes called mass media) includes all the institutions and technology that communicate news and entertainment to society. They include print media (or the PRESS), BROADCAST media (or television and radio), and new media, like the Internet.
Media can be state-owned, such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), or owned by a private company. Media consumers normally pay a small fee to access information, although private companies meet most of the cost by selling ADVERTISING space to businesses or sponsors.
People depend on media for everything from the latest headlines to yesterday’s sports results. At its best, the media educates, provokes, and entertains. Yet mass media can also be used for propaganda purposes to sway public opinion and distort the truth.
In most mass media, information flows in one direction only, from its creators to the public. The Internet, however, has created a “virtual” community that can share information, views, and experiences with each other via emails, chatrooms, and message boards. While Internet sites are not checked for accuracy or fairness, they can provide a balanced and informal alternative to the official media by letting diverse voices be heard.
Newspapers, magazines, and the journalists who write for them are known collectively as the press. One in every six people reads a daily newspaper. The world’s leading newspaper, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun, sells over 14 million copies a day.
Readers often pick a newspaper that reflects their own interests and political views. Each newspaper has its own editorial standards, which shape how the news is presented. Most full-size papers are more serious than the smaller, often sensational tabloids. Readers may buy a different paper if it has an exclusive story.
Broadcast media send information to a wide audience using advanced electronic technology. Radio was first broadcast in the 1920s, and television in the 1930s. In recent years, digital technologies have created a huge expansion in the number of channels of all kinds.
Radio is a truly global medium for talk, news, and music. More than 300 million battery-powered radios are sold every year, providing a cheap and accessible alternative to television. Television is often less easily available to many in developing countries, especially for those without access to electricity.
Producers of goods and services use the media to encourage people to buy their products. They buy space in any media that reach their target consumers, in order to advertise, or promote, their goods in a way that appeals to them.