Humans have always had the need to communicate. This is evident through the paintings and scripts on the walls of the caves. And also, through various sculptures Ancient men had no access to technology hence they used the walls as one of the modes of communication. From cave paintings to stereoscopic filmography, technology has innovated the mode of communication and mass media is one of the best modes to (communicate)express emotions. Over the years, the media industry has transformed remarkably covering every possible genre. Media keeps us informed about the current issues which makes it even more important and useful in terms of the development of society. Moreover,, the media and entertainment (M&E) industry have proved beneficial for the business sector too.
Looking at the history of media, it can categorise into four stages, distinguishing each into a specific time period,
- Pre-Industrial age (Before the 1700s)
- Industrial age(Between the 1700s-1930s)
- Electronic age (1930-1980)
- Digital age(1900- Current)
Moving forward from the cave paintings, manuscripts, and engraved stones, in 1440 when Gutenberg disrupted the scribing industry, he could not have imagined the way mass media would concrete the path for the Age of Enlightenment, the Renaissance, and the scientific evolution. The path to the modern media landscape that we now inhabit was unimaginable.
From Papyrus to E-Books
Print media is one of the oldest and most reliable forms of media. The contribution of print media for providing information and transferring the knowledge has been remarkable. However, the history of paper is traced back to Chinese individual Ts’ai Lun, in A.D. 105, it was two hundred years later that Johannes Gutenburg refined a method to efficiently print books and pamphlets on his Gutenburg press. He then led to the revolution of mass media. Printing was later industrialized by Nicolas Jenson who invented a new typeface for publications around 1470, one that was far easier to read than the blackletter typefaces Gutenburg had used, which had copied the handwritten books of the time.
The industrial revolution introduced a new era for type and publications, introducing yellow journalism. The newspaper included sensational tabloids and cartoons for entertainment. Further the beginning of the 20th century, technology started to disrupt the publishing industry. There was more focus on mass production and design, and manpower was reduced. Most of the work is done by machines now. The mode of media changed from papyrus to digital content. Presently, computer software has made print media more accessible even for small and medium business owners.
Granting the beginning of the world-wide-web and online blogs and news sites, the printed word has not lost its power. Print media has evolved continuously over its long history and hasn’t stopped yet.
The Springboard of Imagination
With the print media expanding rapidly it lacked speed, thus the masses did turn to radio for immediate information about the happenings. However, TV was the best combination of both worlds—audio and visuals, changing the media forever. The public did not right away invest in televisions but the coverage of World War II changed their outlook. News channels started reporting war events and included pictures and maps that enhanced the news for the viewers. Till the 1950s, television became affordable, leading to more channels and advertising opportunities. M&E industry started flourishing with TV journalism, games, movies, and sports dominated television airwaves.
Visuals have improved with time leading to diverse outcomes. Presently, the visual effects have become a big part of the media industry, especially film & television. Due to VFX, imagination is the only limit for artists. Filmography started with analog images, but in the latest Avenger movie, artists were successful in convincing the audience that multiverse exists. We still cannot predict what the film industry holds for the viewers in the future but the M&E industry has proven to be the springboard of imagination for the creatives of the world.
Era of Filter Bubble
With the expansion of cable and the internet, the options for media consumers became more diverse than ever. People could now watch on-demand shows, bypass commercials, and record programs of interest. It’s also unusual how a 16-page newspaper can cover everything happening around the globe. Digitization has made access to mass media is a click away, thus leading to curation and prioritization. With so much content being available the M&E industry changed its focus from content-driven to consumer-driven.
Now, people will find tailored content depending on online behavior. Users have surrounded themselves with like-minded outlook. The news was never supposed to be enjoyed but provide information. Although, now the news are tailored for the better consumer response. It is true that the more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate. The filter bubble of media has now created echo chambers for viewers and there are many people with opposing views. The content now depends on the mass public interest and current trends. Thus, this is creating a personalized environment that protects them from certain realities. Issues have always been opportunities to change, so the M&E industry might use this filter bubble to their benefit and diversify the media content further.
Opportunity in Disguise
From listening to music on an iPod to a customized Spotify playlist, from pager to smartphones and from daily newspapers to digital subscriptions, the way people grasp media, share and pay for it has changed. The way we engage with media has constantly evolved. This makes it affirmative that the media industry can never be out of business. The media and entertainment industry is currently under major digital transformation. A report suggests that by 2023 the media industry is expected to reach about 2.6 trillion revenue globally. Digital media acquires half the share of the industry’s total revenue. Smartphone data consumption plays a major role in this, as year by year the viewership is growing.
This also creates a diverse career opening for media enthusiasts. Taking up a career in the M&E industry is like an opportunity in disguise. With the digital advancements and increasing viewership, the demand for media professionals will rise too. Not just artists, but tech professionals too have a major role to play. With IT and Media Science growing and advancing every day, the M&E industry is a wonderful career option to take up.
The Question of the Hour
The businesses are foreseen to face the wrath of COVID-19. The COVID-19 crisis is anticipated to affect the economy adversely, which is going to affect the industries too. The question arises, ‘How it will affect the media industry and the artists?’ When it comes to the media industry the pandemic is anticipated to create a creative renaissance. Often adversity results in the most powerful creativity, thus, this pandemic will create the best artistic output. Artists like the scriptwriters, songwriters or the special effects designers may create some of the most impactful and poignant work in these times. The pandemic has benefitted people with ample of time to rediscover themselves. They can utilize this time to make the most of their talent by combining their professional skills and the raw emotions they felt at this time. We can hope that the media industry as a whole may deliver some of the best content after this crisis.
But as every coin has two sides, there is a possibility that the economic hardship would affect adversely the struggling artists. Facing the hardships and the stress of the pandemic across the globe can also force out the creativity all together from the individual. It is the outlook and the mental health of the artist that might help him survive this pandemic. However, let us have an optimistic view and hope that the media industry is on the verge of the golden era with lots of interesting content waiting at the end of the tunnel!
Re-Establishing and Rediscovering Media Industry
To summarize, we cannot imagine a world without media. If we look around, the world is surrounded and dependent on media today. In the business sector, media industry is the most influential business sector that sells time and space on various media platforms. Media has somehow managed to reconstruct the relationships, which we have witnessed at different levels, from content to devices, including meaning systems and the production or consumption practices.
Since evolution, media somehow has been constant and the modes to consume it has changed overtimes. As soon as a new medium emerges, other media are in the hegemonic phase and this leads the old media to adapt to the changes and survive. The media industry keeps re-establishing themselves by coexist with novel media mediums in the same ecology. All this makes media the most important entity on earth. Mass media somehow controls the mind of masses thus it has the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent. Now it is our responsibility to use this power conscientiously.
Few Takeaways of the Article
- Today Mass Media is multifaceted and fulfills various roles in the society like
- Entertaining and providing a passage for imagination,
- Educating and informing,
- Serving as a public forum for the discussion of important issues, and
- Acting as a watchdog for government, business, and other institutions
- Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press enabled the bulk production of media that was then industrial due to Friedrich Koenig within the early 1800s. These innovations led to the daily newspaper that united the urbanized, industrial populations of the nineteenth century.
- In the twentieth century, radio allowed advertisers to succeed in a mass audience and helped spur the consumerism of the 1920s—and the Great Depression of the1930s. Later World War II, TV boomed within not just the US but globally. The spread of cable and resultant release within the 80s and 90s led to additional channels, however, but not necessarily to more diverse ownership.
- Transitions from one technology to a different have greatly affected the media trade, though it’s tough to mention whether or not technology caused a cultural shift or resulted from it. The power to create technology tiny and cheap enough to suit into the house is a crucial aspect of the popularization of recent technologies.
“What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.”
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