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Effects of Mass Media on American Culture

Updated on April 12, 2012

The Beginning of Media

Mass media has developed immensely during the last century and continues to develop today. The development of mass media has influenced American culture in many ways. It is media intended for a large mass of people. The possibilities in which this media can reach people appear to be endless and insistent.

Originally in American culture we communicated orally. Our knowledge and information moved slowly. We relied on teachers and storytellers to obtain knowledge. One of the first developments in mass media was print. In the early 1400s books were in the beginning phases of becoming available to the mass audience. At that time, only wealthy people can afford to purchase books because of the rarity. It took a long time to illustrate and publish books. Eventually, books became more affordable and more common among most people. Print became the fastest way to communicate and could travel farther than ever before. The movement was made possible by machine production. The telegraph was a huge development in mass media. This allowed people to receive information instantaneously. It eliminated the need to transport written information physically. The telegraph led to things such as the radio, fax machines, and cell phones.

Electronic Media

The twentieth century sparked the electronic phase. The information age started with television, which led to computers, satellites, and smart phones. The digital era rapidly grew into the Internet, which gave power to the common person. Publishers and television stations were no longer in control of the information. Bloggers became popular and can easily post their own opinions on the Internet for the world to see. Social networking websites allow people to communicate with friends and family over the Internet and carry on conversations through typing.

These developments influenced American culture in many ways. When print arrived people became more independent. Not having to rely on teachers, preachers, and storytellers. They were allowed to read what was published and interpret it in their own way. The machine printing that allowed publishers to print mass quantities of books led to the industrial revolution. This empowered the average middle classed American in the workforce. The telegraph affected the American culture in revealing the concept of instant communication. Instead of waiting for a letter to be transported and delivered one can receive information instantly. This led to many of America’s media outlets. Television gave people a visual to add to the information that was sent. Film arrived and it became a great way to paint a picture for its audience.

Media Convergence

Media convergence is the merging of content through different media types. Newspapers are now available online giving readers the option the read the newspaper online. Amazon.com is a good example of merging two types of media. The oldest form of media, which is books and the newest form of media, which is the internet, both merged resulting in media convergence. A second definition is sometimes called cross platform by media marketers. Having one corporation own and operate different media types is also known as media convergence. An example would be a company that owns a television station, radio station, newspaper, and online news site. This allows the company to make good use of fewer employees and generate the same information through all channels of their media. A disadvantage to this method is minimizing diverse opinions and information that would’ve been published if each channel were independently owned.

Media literacy is important for responsible media consumption in many ways. One has to be aware of what information is being distributed through media. Having the ability to filter the false information from the true and relevant facts is the first step. There is obvious evidence that mass media effects American culture and in many ways.

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