Mass Media


Literature Review

Mass Media and the Effects on Public Perspective

Over the past century, mass media has evolved from informational for the public to a monopolistic situation where the public has lost its say in what is aired. Back in early 1900s, newspapers had entertainment, news, information, and public views which in turn earned the public’s interest. As interest grew, of course the companies did as well. At the turn of the century, the U.S. labor movement published hundreds of newspapers in dozens of languages, and regional dailies issued by working-class political organizations and mutual aid societies to national union weeklies and monthlies (McChesney 151). These newspapers practiced a journalism very different from that of the capitalist newspapers, which were produced and sold as commodities, which contended, were poisoning the minds of the public. The old papers gave information, news, and help, and had little for entertainment. This paper will investigate the changes in the media, focusing on newspapers, magazines, and television, and the effects upon public perspective it has had.
In the decades that followed the emergence of radio broadcasting in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, much of the scholarship on the origins of the U.S. broadcasting setup was a fortunate success (McChesney 222). It is assumed that the United States had adopted the best broadcast system imaginable and that the laws that had permitted and encouraged the development of a regulated commercial system had been products of well-intentioned public servants (McChesney 222). Sometimes the U.S. broadcasting system was characterized as being a result of a painstaking study and debate of a variety of alternatives. At other times, the notion that debate or study had even been necessary was dismissed categorically, as the existing system was the sole conceivable system appropriate for U.S. democracy (McChesney 223). In either case this perspective, which had been encouraged strongly by the commercial broadcasting industry, remained prominent in mass communication circles well into the 1970s, thus the real emergence of media conformity. Conformity of the media means that less and less companies exist today and the major corporations have bought out all the smaller ones. What people watch, see, read, and even talk about has been effected by the media. With the emergence of these changes we are now more interested in entertainment. This will be explained later.

Effects and Changes in Mass Media
A description of mass media in the United States can help to explain much of why they do what they do. There are two categories of media defined as follows: print (newspapers, magazines, etc); and electronic which is the radio, television, movies, and the internet. These media carry messages quickly to a wide range of audiences (Heibert 4-5). With this technology media has conformed slowly over time, and less companies produced because they have either been bought out or fell off the charts as these numbers show (Heibert 4-5). At the end of the twentieth century, about 1,550 daily newspapers were published, which is down from about 2,600 at their peak earlier in the century (Heibert 5).
Some questions can be brought to light such as, do the media make things happen, or do they merely report what has happened? Do they make us act? Do they influence people’s opinions? Obviously this cannot be answered with undeniable certainty, but one can argue. In the 1950s, television was still primarily a limited adult activity. Most people’s values had already been shaped by other forces - namely, family, religion, teachers, and print media (Heibert 7). By the end of the twentieth century, social scientists were ready to assign a more direct and powerful impact to television (Heibert 7-8). The most important has been the work of George Gerbner, whose “cultivation analysis” is based on theory that television, as a dominant medium, has a cumulative effect, ultimately creating the culture in which we live (Gerbner 23). Today many experts say it is television - not parents, teachers, or religious leaders - that establishes the values of young children. Many scientific studies have confirmed that for the news and information we need about ourselves, our communities, and our world, we now turn more often to mass media, especially television, than to our