The Complete History of Media: Types of News Media and Their Role

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Before writing, before technology or even before the internet came to be relevant, news media began with the basics—through speaking and exchanging information with others in real life. Through many revisions and early developments of mass media, we can see professional standards being made. Mass media are the means of communication that reach an audience of people. The act of journalism is collecting, writing and reporting news or information to the general public. Nowadays, people rely on newspapers, television, phones, radios and the internet to get information on what’s happening in the world around them or for just plain entertainment. News media are combined elements of mass media that focus on delivering information to a specific target audience. These include, but are not limited to print newspapers, online newspapers, magazines, radios, photojournalism, news blogs, newsletters, podcasts, talk shows, alternative media, news agencies, etc.

Newspapers are a type of printed news media. They are sometimes issued daily, weekly or other times as scheduled by the publishing company. They generally contain news, information, featured stories and advertisements. Historians say that newspapers began circulating as early as in the 17th century. The real, first documented newspapers was printed in Egland of 1665, however, England’s first successful daily newspaper happened in 1702. During the beginnings of the American colonies, the first newspaper that appeared was in 1690 called the Publick Occurrences. Since it was published without authority, it was consequently suppressed after only one issue; but it was meant to serve as a news outlet for English colonists. Newspapers became far more common in the late 19th century to well into the 20th century. Although most of the newspapers that are available depends on the area of which you live in, popular newspaper publications are USA TODAY, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Houston Chronicle. People who want to read newspapers can pay for a subscription for it to be mailed or emailed to them.

With the never-ending trend of the internet and social media, most newspaper publications also have a digital forum. Therefore digital copies of newspapers are available for the public to buy. For example, USA TODAY has more than 52 million downloads on mobile devices. Newspapers can cover district, state, national and international wide news on any site or app. However, this all depends on who their target audience of potential buyers are, where they live, their genders or their age range. Digital copies can be also seen as a more eco friendly approach to cover news and information for all the public to buy and read. One of the earliest attempts to digital newspapers for public domain was a project launched by Knight-Riddler, a newspaper company in 1983. Even if this was a brilliant idea, it cost way too much money and it was far too ahead of the technology present at the time.

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Magazines are another type of both printed and digital news media. Magazines are sometimes also called glossies, periodicals or serials. They are often published weekly or monthly, regardless they are almost always published on a regular schedule. Magazines can vary from being political, informational, educational or opinions. Magazines are regularly used for entertainment. They often contain a more variety of stories than in newspapers, advertisements, or news reports. Like newspapers, people can also pay for a weekly or monthly subscription. This is how magazine companies can ensure they won’t run out of funds, as well as selling advertisements to local/national businesses or companies. Magazines have more colored designs while newspapers stick to a more professional and intact columns. They both contain information that target specific audiences. Like newspapers, magazines can also be downloaded digitally. Popular magazine companies include, but are not limited to; National Geographic, Time, Cosmopolitan, and AARP The Magazine. The most widely distributed magazine in the world is The Watchtower with publications of more than 25 million copies.

Broadcasting is a type of news media. It is the distribution of video signals or sound waves which transmit programs to a public or private audience. The 20th century came with advances to mass media with the introduction of television and radios. Televisions and radios are other types of news media. Television, with channels, shows or movies are a visual narrative of news. With that, they drastically influenced how Americans viewed the world, especially after wars or heavy political actions. It was a big deal to Americans when they saw the first person step on the moon, it was broadcasted to millions across the United States. People enjoyed how they can both view and listen to broadcast being shown on live television. Popular television news channels are Fox News, CNN, BBC World News and MSNBC. On average, television news channels get up to 1.5 million views each day from American citizens.

In 2017, a major decrease of news media happened towards every type; except for radio stations in the United States. Eventually, both televisions and public videos found on YouTube overwhelmed printed newspapers. People don’t bother to read as much as they did back then when it was popular and it was the only cheap, available option to do. Radios are also included in this. It’s practically rare to see a traditional radio in someone’s basement now. They’re now ancient remnants of the past. Smartphones like iPhones or Androids eventually succeeded radios. Statistics are showing that even television channels are getting less frequently watched.

Photography is one of the up and coming type of news media. It changes the structure and perception of society. Images play a very important factor in both printed and digital media. Photojournalism presents images in order to tell a news story. Popular photojournalists include James Nachtwey, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau. Henri Cartier-Bresson is actually known as the father of modern photojournalism. Photojournalism provides news media with new opportunities. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. Billions upon billions of photographs and images are produced annually and they are transferred globally across the internet in a matter of seconds. The web changes everything and social media is another big influence to today’s world.

An alternative type of news media are podcasts, much like how radio broadcasts work, they involve transmitting sound waves. In podcasting, quality beats quantity in terms of getting your audience’s attention. However, when there are advertisements, listeners can’t easily change channels as they can on television. Podcasts create loyal audience members who are willing to listen to advertisements without complaint. This means that more higher quality podcasts can make people binge listen to them. Which means more money towards their companies. Podcasts can vary from expressing opinions and showcasing information or entertainment to the general public audience. Popular podcasts include Wondery, WNYC Studios, HeadGum, and All Things Comedy. Podcasts have a huge potential for growing and becoming even more popular.

The mass media is important because your message can get across to a more wider audience. Social media or any media can spread information across the globe within minutes. It comes off great when companies want to advertise you to buy their products. The attitude that the majority of the people have towards news stories that get covered on any type of news media platform, is that this must be really important for them to cover that story. Aka it is worth paying attention and taking notice of. The media can also persuade audiences to agree to specific opinions. All in all, the world is ever changing and with news media, it will continue to grow and expand its’ horizons.

Works Cited

  • “What is Journalism? Definition and Meaning of the Craft.” American Press Institute, API, https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/journalism-essentials/what-is-journalism/.
  • The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Newspaper.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 15 June 2006, https://www.britannica.com/topic/newspaper.
  • Lambert, Tim. “Early Newspaper.” A History of Newspapers, 2019, http://www.localhistories.org/media.html
  • Campbell, David, and David Campbell. “Photojournalism in the New Media Economy.” Neiman Reports, Neiman Reports, 30 Mar. 2010, https://neimanreports.org/articles/photojournalism-in-the-new-media-economy/.
  • Www.zed-communications.com. “Photographia.” Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award, 22 Apr. 2012, https://www.hipa.ae/en/media/photograph/40.
  • Jacobs, Melissa. “The Impact of Television on News Media.” The Impact of Television on News Media | DPLA, New York City Department of Education/New York City School Library System, 2015, https://dp.la/primary-source-sets/the-impact-of-television-on-news-media.
  • “Top 10 U.S. Magazines by Circulation.” Agility PR Solutions, 7 Sept. 2019, https://www.agilitypr.com/resources/top-media-outlets/top-10-American-magazines/.
  • Rosszay, Adam. “Top 10 Alternative Media List.” Medium, Citizen’s Café, 8 Mar. 2018, https://medium.com/real-social-post/top-10-alternative-media-list-1ed52befa70c
  • James, Geoffrey. “How Podcasting Is Transforming the News Media.” Inc.com, Inc., 28 Mar. 2017, https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-James/will-podcasting-save-the-news-media-industry.html.  
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