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Media (communication)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In communication, media are the outlets or tools used to store and deliver content; semantic information or subject matter of which the media contains.[1][2] The term generally refers to components of the mass media communications industry, such as print media, publishing, news media, photography, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television), digital media, and advertising.[3]

The development of early writing and paper enabling longer-distance communication systems such as mail, including in the Persian Empire (Chapar Khaneh and Angarium) and Roman Empire, can be interpreted as early forms of media.[4] Writers such as Howard Rheingold have framed early forms of human communication, such as the Lascaux cave paintings and early writing, as early forms of media.[5] Another framing of the history of media starts with the Chauvet Cave paintings and continues with other ways to carry human communication beyond the short range of voice: smoke signals, trail markers, and sculpture.[6]

In its modern application, the term media is relating to communication channels was first used by Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, who stated in Counterblast (1954): "The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists because they are art forms." By the mid-1960s, the term had spread to general use in North America and the United Kingdom. According to H. L. Mencken, the phrase mass media was used as early as 1923 in the United States.[7][8]

The term medium (the singular form of media) is defined as "one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, as newspapers, radio, or television."[9]



The role of regulatory authorities (license broadcaster institutions, content providers, platforms) and the resistance to political and commercial interference in the autonomy of the media sector are both considered as significant components of media independence. In order to ensure media independence, regulatory authorities should be placed outside of governments' directives. This can be measured through legislation, agency statutes and rules.[10]

Government regulations




In the United States, the Radio Act of 1927 established that the radio frequency spectrum was public property. This prohibited private organizations from owning any portion of the spectrum.[11] A broadcast license is typically given to broadcasters by communications regulators, allowing them to broadcast on a certain frequency and typically in a specific geographical location. Licensing is done by regulators in order to manage a broadcasting medium and as a method to prevent the concentration of media ownership.[12]

Licensing has been criticized for an alleged lack of transparency. Regulatory authorities in certain countries have been accused of exhibiting political bias in favor of the government or ruling party, which has resulted in some prospective broadcasters being denied licenses or being threatened with license withdrawal. As a consequence, there has been a decrease in diversity of content and views in certain countries due to actions made against broadcasters by states via their licensing authorities. This can have an impact on competition and may lead to an excessive concentration of power with potential influence on public opinion.[13] Examples include the failure to renew or retain licenses for editorially critical media, reducing the regulator's competences and mandates for action, and a lack of due process in the adoption of regulatory decisions.[14]

Government endorsed appointments


State control is also evident in the increasing politicization of regulatory bodies operationalized through transfers and appointments of party-aligned individuals to senior positions in regulatory authorities. Anatol Lieven in his book explains how Pakistan, a less economically developed country, regulated its media in the 1980s.[15]

Internet regulation





At the regional level


In Western Europe, self-regulation provides an alternative to state regulatory authorities. In such contexts, newspapers have historically been free of licensing and regulation, and there has been repeated pressure for them to self-regulate or at least to have in-house ombudsmen. However, it has often been difficult to establish meaningful self-regulatory entities.

In many cases, self-regulations exists in the shadow of state regulation, and is conscious of the possibility of state intervention. In many countries in Central and Eastern Europe, self-regulatory structures seems to be lacking or have not historically been perceived as efficient and effective.[16]

The rise of satellite channels that delivered directly to viewers, or through cable or online systems, renders much larger the sphere of unregulated programing. There are, however, varying efforts to regulate the access of programmers to satellite transponders in parts of the Western Europe, North America, the Arab region and in Asia and the Pacific. The Arab Satellite Broadcasting Charter was an example of efforts to bring formal standards and some regulatory authority to bear on what is transmitted, but it appears to not have been implemented.[17]

International organizations and NGOs


Self-regulation is expressed as a preferential system by journalists but also as a support for media freedom and development organizations by intergovernmental organizations such as UNESCO and non-governmental organizations. There has been a continued trend of establishing self-regulatory bodies, such as press councils, in conflict and post-conflict situations.[18]

Major internet companies have responded to pressure by governments and the public by elaborating self-regulatory and complaints systems at the individual company level, using principles they have developed under the framework of the Global Network Initiative. The Global Network Initiative has grown to include several large telecom companies alongside internet companies such as Google, Facebook and others, as well as civil society organizations and academics.[19]

The European Commission's 2013 publication, ICT Technology Sector Guide on Implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, impacts on the presence of independent journalism by defining the limits of what should or should not be carried and prioritized in the most popular digital spaces.[20]

Private sector

Ranking Digital Rights indicator scores for policy transparency in regards to third-party requests for content or account restriction
Ranking Digital Rights indicator scores for policy transparency in regard to their terms of service enforcement (which impact upon content or account restrictions)

Public pressure on technology giants has motivated the development of new strategies aimed not only at identifying 'fake news', but also at eliminating some of the structural causes of their emergence and proliferation. Facebook has created new buttons for users to report content they believe is false, following previous strategies aimed at countering hate speech and harassment online. These changes reflect broader transformations occurring among tech giants to increase their transparency. As indicated by the Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, most large internet companies have reportedly become relatively more forthcoming in terms of their policies about transparency in regard to third party requests to remove or access content, especially in the case of requests from governments.[21][22] At the same time, however, the study signaled a number of companies that have become more opaque when it comes to disclosing how they enforce their own terms of service, in restricting certain types of content and account.[22] State governments can also use "Fake news" in order to spread propaganda.[23]

Fact-checking and news literacy


In addition to responding to pressure for more clearly defined self-regulatory mechanisms, and galvanized by the debates over so-called 'fake news', internet companies such as Facebook have launched campaigns to educate users about how to more easily distinguish between 'fake news' and real news sources. Ahead of the United Kingdom national election in 2017, for example, Facebook published a series of advertisements in newspapers with 'Tips for Spotting False News' which suggested 10 things that might signal whether a story is genuine or not.[24] There have also been broader initiatives bringing together a variety of donors and actors to promote fact-checking and news literacy, such as the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York's School of Journalism. This 14 million USD investment by groups including the Ford Foundation and Facebook was launched in 2017 so its full impact remains to be seen. It will, however, complement the offerings of other networks such as the International Fact-Checking Network launched by the Poynter Institute in 2015 which seeks to outline the parameters of the field.[25] Instagram has also created a way to potentially expose "fake news" that is posted on the site. After looking into the site, it seemed as more than a place for political memes, but a weaponized platform, instead of the creative space it used to be.[26] Since that, Instagram has started to put warning labels on certain stories or posts if third-party fact checkers believe that false information is being spread.[27] Instagram works with these fact checkers to ensure that no false information is being spread around the site.[28] Instagram started this work in 2019, following Facebook with the idea as they started fact checking in 2016.[28]

Electronic media


Developments in telecommunications has provided media the ability to conduct long-distance communication via analog and digital media:

Modern communication media includes long-distance exchanges between larger numbers of people (many-to-many communication via email, Internet forums, and telecommunications ports). Traditional broadcast media and mass media favor one-to-many communication (television, cinema, radio, newspaper, magazines, and social media).[29][30]

Social Media


Electronic Media, specifically social media has become one of the top forms of media that people use in the twenty-first century. The percent of people that use social media and social networking outlets went from 5% in 2005 to 79% in 2019. Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tiktok, and Facebook are all the most commonly used social media platforms. The average time that an individual spends on social media is 2.5 hours a day. With the exponential increase of social media it has also caused a change in which people communicate with others as well as receive information. About 53% use social media to read/watch the news.[31] Many people use the information specifically from social media influencers to understand more about a topic, business, or organization.[32] Social media has now been made part of everyday news production for journalists around the world.[33]





The gaming community has grown exponentially, and about 63% have taken to playing with others, whether online or in-person.[34] Players online will communicate through the system of microphone applicability either through the game or a third party application such as Discord. The improvements upon connectivity and software allowed for players online to keep in touch and game instantaneously, disregarding location almost entirely. With online gaming platforms it has been noted that they support diverse social gaming communities allowing players to feel a sense of belonging through the screen.[35]



Gaming is an activity shared amongst others regardless of age, allowing for a diverse group of players to connect and enjoy their favorite games with. This helps with creating or maintaining relationships: friendships, family, or a significant other.[34]

Ratings and content


As with most interactive media content, games have ratings to assist in choosing appropriate games regarding younger audiences. This is done by ESRB ratings and consists of the following: E for Everyone, E for Everyone 10+, T for Teen, and M for Mature 17+. Whenever a new game is released, it is reviewed by associations to determine a suitable rating so younger audiences do not consume harmful or inappropriate content.[34] With these ratings it helps the risks and effects of gaming on younger audiences because the exposure of media is believed to influence children's attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.[36]



The usage and consumption of gaming has tremendously increased within the last decade with estimates of around 2.3 billion people from around the world playing digital and online video games.[37] The growth rate for the global market for gaming was expected to grow 6.2% towards 2020. Areas like Latin America had a 20.1% increase, Asia-Pacific - 9.2%, North America - 4.0%, and Europe -11.7%.[38]



Studies show that digital and online gaming can be used as a communication method to aid in scientific research and create interaction. The narrative, layout, and gaming features all share a relationship that can deliver meaning and value that make games an innovative communication tool.[39] Research-focused games showed a connection towards a greater usage of dialogue within the science community as players had the opportunity to address issues with a game with themselves and scientists. This helped to push the understanding of how gaming and players can help advance scientific research via communication through games.[40]



A vBook is an eBook that is digital first media with embedded video, images, graphs, tables, text, and other useful media.[41]


An E-book combines reading and listening media interaction. It is compact and can store a large amount of data which has made them very popular in classrooms.[42]

See also



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 This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY SA 3.0 IGO (license statement/permission). Text taken from World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report 2017/2018​, 202, UNESCO.

Further reading

  • McQuail, Denis (2001) McQuail's Mass Communication Theory (fourth edition), Sage, London, pp. 16–34. MAS
  • Biagi, S. (2004). Media Impact. Wadsworth Pub Co, 7th edition.
  • Caron, A. H. and Caronia, L. (2007). Moving cultures: mobile communication in everyday life. McGill-Queen's University Press.