The term media, which is the plural of medium, refers to the communication channels through which we disseminate news, music, movies, education, promotional messages and other data. It includes physical and online newspapers and magazines, television, radio, billboards, telephone, the Internet, fax and billboards.
It describes the various ways through which we communicate in society. Because it refers to all means of communication, everything ranging from a telephone call to the evening news on television can be called media.
When talking about reaching a very large number of people we say mass media. Local media refers to, for example, your local newspaper, or local/regional TV/radio channels.
Different types of media
Media can be broken down into two main categories: broadcast and print. The Internet has also emerged as a major player, as a rapidly-growing number of people globally get their news, movies, etc. online.
Print Media includes all types of publications, including newspapers, journals, magazines, books and reports. It is the oldest type, and despite suffering since the emergence of the Internet, is still used by a major proportion of the population.
Broadcast Media refers to radio and TV, which came onto the scene at the beginning and middle of the 20th century respectively. Most people still get their news from TV and radio broadcasts – however, experts predict that it will not be long before online sources take over.
Over the past twenty years, cable news has grown in importance.
The Internet – specifically websites and blogs – are rapidly emerging as viable and major channels of communication as more and more people seek news, entertainment and educational material online. The term ‘viable,’ in business, means capable of generating profits for many years.
Virtually every part of the Internet has become a medium of communication – most free email services have little boxes that display ads and other messages.
The Internet as we know it today did not really take off until the 1990s. In 1995, just 1% of the world’s population was online, compared to over 49% today. The notion of the Internet started in the 1960s in the USA during the Cold War, when the military and scientists were worried about a missile attack, which could knock out the telephone system.