Media (communication)


In mass communication, media are the communication outlets or tools used to store and deliver information or data.[1][2] The term refers to components of the mass media communications industry, such as print media, publishing, the news media, photography, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television), digital media, and advertising.[3]

The development of early writing and paper enabling longer-distance communication systems such as mail, including in the Persian Empire (Chapar Khaneh and Angarium) and Roman Empire, can be interpreted as early forms of media.[4] Writers such as Howard Rheingold have framed early forms of human communication, such as the Lascaux cave paintings and early writing, as early forms of media.[5] Another framing of the history of media starts with the Chauvet Cave paintings and continues with other ways to carry human communication beyond the short range of voice: smoke signals, trail markers, and sculpture.[6]

The Term media in its modern application relating to communication channels was first used by Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, who stated in Counterblast (1954): "The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists because they are art forms." By the mid-1960s, the term had spread to general use in North America and the United Kingdom. The phrase mass media was, according to H.L. Mencken, used as early as 1923 in the United States.[7][8]

The term medium (the singular form of media) is defined as "one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, as newspapers, radio, or television."[9]


The role of regulatory authorities (license broadcaster institutions, content providers, platforms) and the resistance to political and commercial interference in the autonomy of the media sector are both considered as significant components of media independence. In order to ensure media independence, regulatory authorities should be placed outside of governments' directives. this can be measured through legislation, agency statutes and rules.[10]

Government regulationsEdit


The process of issuing licenses in many regions still lacks transparency and is considered to follow procedures that are obscure and concealing. In many countries, regulatory authorities stand accused of political bias in favor of the government and ruling party, whereby some prospective broadcasters have been denied licenses or threatened with the withdrawal of licenses. In many countries, diversity of content and views have diminished as monopolies, fostered directly or indirectly by States.[10] This not only impacts on competition but leads to a concentration of power with potentially excessive influence on public opinion.[11] Buckley et al. cite failure to renew or retain licenses for editorially critical media; folding the regulator into government ministries or reducing its competences and mandates for action; and lack of due process in the adoption of regulatory decisions, among others, as examples in which these regulators are formally compliant with sets of legal requirements on independence, but their main task in reality is seen to be that of enforcing political agendas.[12]

Government endorsed appointmentsEdit

State control is also evident in the increasing politicization of regulatory bodies operationalized through transfers and appointments of party-aligned individuals to senior positions in regulatory authorities. Dr Anatol Lieven in his book explains how Pakistan, a less economically developed country, regulated it's media in 1980's.[13]

Internet regulationEdit

Governments worldwide have sought to extend regulation to internet companies, whether connectivity providers or application service providers, and whether domestically or foreign-based. The impact on journalistic content can be severe, as internet companies can err too much on the side of caution and take down news reports, including algorithmically, while offering inadequate opportunities for redress to the affected news producers.[10]


At the regional levelEdit

In Western Europe, self-regulation provides an alternative to state regulatory authorities. In such contexts, newspapers have historically been free of licensing and regulation, and there has been repeated pressure for them to self-regulate or at least to have in-house ombudsmen. However, it has often been difficult to establish meaningful self-regulatory entities.

In many cases, self-regulations exists in the shadow of state regulation, and is conscious of the possibility of state intervention. In many countries in Central and Eastern Europe, self-regulatory structures seems to be lacking or have not historically been perceived as efficient and effective.[14]

The rise of satellite delivered channels, delivered directly to viewers, or through cable or online systems, renders much larger the sphere of unregulated programing. There are, however, varying efforts to regulate the access of programmers to satellite transponders in parts of the Western Europe and North American region, the Arab region and in Asia and the Pacific. The Arab Satellite Broadcasting Charter was an example of efforts to bring formal standards and some regulatory authority to bear on what is transmitted, but it appears to not have been implemented.[15]

International organizations and NGOsEdit

Self-regulation is expressed as a preferential system by journalists but also as a support for media freedom and development organizations by intergovernmental organizations such as UNESCO and non-governmental organizations. There has been a continued trend of establishing self-regulatory bodies, such as press councils, in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Major internet companies have responded to pressure by governments and the public by elaborating self-regulatory and complaints systems at the individual company level, using principles they have developed under the framework of the Global Network Initiative. The Global Network Initiative has grown to include several large telecom companies alongside internet companies such as Google, Facebook and others, as well as civil society organizations and academics.[16]

The European Commission’s 2013 publication, ICT Technology Sector Guide on Implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, impacts on the presence of independent journalism by defining the limits of what should or should not be carried and prioritized in the most popular digital spaces.[17]

Private sectorEdit

Ranking Digital Rights indicator scores for policy transparency in regards to third-party requests for content or account restriction
Ranking Digital Rights indicator scores for policy transparency in regard to their terms of service enforcement (which impact upon content or account restrictions)

Public pressure on technology giants has motivated the development of new strategies aimed not only at identifying ‘fake news’, but also at eliminating some of the structural causes of their emergence and proliferation. Facebook has created new buttons for users to report content they believe is false, following previous strategies aimed at countering hate speech and harassment online. These changes reflect broader transformations occurring among tech giants to increase their transparency. As indicated by the Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, most large internet companies have reportedly become relatively more forthcoming in terms of their policies about transparency in regard to third party requests to remove or access content, especially in the case of requests from governments.[18][19] At the same time, however, the study signaled a number of companies that have become more opaque when it comes to disclosing how they enforce their own terms of service, in restricting certain types of content and account.[19] State governments can also use "Fake news" in order to spread propaganda.[20]

Fact-checking and news literacyEdit

In addition to responding to pressure for more clearly defined self-regulatory mechanisms, and galvanized by the debates over so-called ‘fake news’, internet companies such as Facebook have launched campaigns to educate users about how to more easily distinguish between ‘fake news’ and real news sources. Ahead of the United Kingdom national election in 2017, for example, Facebook published a series of advertisements in newspapers with ‘Tips for Spotting False News’ which suggested 10 things that might signal whether a story is genuine or not.[21] There have also been broader initiatives bringing together a variety of donors and actors to promote fact-checking and news literacy, such as the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York’s School of Journalism. This 14 million USD investment by groups including the Ford Foundation and Facebook was launched in 2017 so its full impact remains to be seen. It will, however, complement the offerings of other networks such as the International Fact-Checking Network launched by the Poynter Institute in 2015 which seeks to outline the parameters of the field.[22] Instagram has also created a way to potentially expose "fake news" that is posted on the site. After looking in to the site, it seemed as more than a place for political memes, but a weaponized platform, instead of the creative space it used to be.[23] Since that, Instagram has started to put warning labels on certain stories or posts if third-party fact checkers believe that false information is being spread.[24] Instagram works with these fact checkers to ensure that no false information is being spread around the site.[25] Instagram started this work in 2019, following Facebook with the idea as they started fact checking in 2016.[25]

Electronic mediaEdit

In the last century, a revolution in telecommunications has greatly altered communication by providing new media for long-distance communication. The first transatlantic two-way radio broadcast occurred in 1906 and led to common communication via analog and digital media:

Modern communication media now allow for intense long-distance exchanges between larger numbers of people (many-to-many communication via e-mail, Internet forums, and teleportation). On the other hand, many traditional broadcast media and mass media favor one-to-many communication (television, cinema, radio, newspaper, magazines, and also social media).

Electronic media usage is growing, although concern has arisen that it distracts youth from face-to-face contact with friends and family. Research on the social engagement effect is mixed. One study by Wellman found that "33% of Internet users said that the Internet had improved their connections to friends 'a lot', and 23% said it had increased the quality of their communication with family members by a similar amount. Young people in particular took advantage of the social side of the Internet. Nearly half (49%) of the 18- to 29-year-olds said that the Internet had improved their connections to friends a lot. On the other hand, 19% of employed Internet users said that the Internet had increased the amount of time they spent working in home".[26]

Electronic media now comes in the forms of computers (tablets, laptops and desktops), cell phones, MP3 players, DVDs, video game systems, radios, and television. Technology has spiked to record highs within the last decade, thus changing the dynamic of communication. The spike in electronic media really started to grow in 2007 when the release of the first iPhone came out.[27] The meaning of electronic media, as it is known in various spheres, has changed with the passage of time. The term media has achieved a broader meaning nowadays as compared to that given it a decade ago. Earlier, there was multimedia, once only a piece of software (application software) used to play audio (sound) and video (visual object with or without sound). Following this, it was CD (Compact Disc) and DVD (Digital Versatile Disc), then camera of 3G (third generation) applications in the field.

In modern terms, the term "media" includes all the software which are used in PC (personal computer) or laptop or mobile phone installed for normal or better performance of the system; today, however, hard discs (used to increase the installation capacity of data) of computer are an example of electronic media. This type of hard disc is becoming increasingly smaller in physical size.

The latest inclusion in the field is magnetic media (magnetic stripe) whose application is common in the fastest growing information technology field. Modern day IT media is commonly used in the banking sector and by the Income Tax Department for the purpose of providing the easiest and fastest possible services to consumers. In this magnetic strip, account information linking to all the data relating to a particular consumer is stored. The main features of these types of media are prepared unrecorded (blank form), and data is normally stored at a later stage as per the requirement of its user or consumer.

Games as a medium for communicationEdit

Games are a medium used to transfer messages. Apart from the usual graphic, auditory and narrative elements in video games, the game mechanics make it unique in the media field.[citation needed] Following Marshal McLuhan's quote "the medium is the message", Earnest Adams and Joris Dormans make a point in their book Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design that:[28]

“To use a game to communicate, you don’t just produce a clever signal to convey your message. Instead, you construct a machine—the game’s mechanics—that produces the signal for you.”

The players interact with the game and infer the message by observing the game's output. The game mechanics can discriminate against particular actions while encouraging others, thus leading the players to conclude that a certain behavior is more likely to produce the desired outcomes. Although this is commonly and successfully used for entertainment purposes it can also be used as a tool for public relations – for example as Advergaming.}

Gamification has been used to communicate in other areas as well. The game design video lessons show Extra Credits has criticized China's Sesame Credit for gamifying the act of "being an obedient citizen",[29] using tools that are commonly used in games can incentivize a specific behavior to increase one's credit.

See alsoEdit


  This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY SA 3.0 IGO (license statement/permission). Text taken from World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report 2017/2018​, 202, UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.


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  22. ^ "International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers' code of principles". Poynter. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
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  29. ^ "Propaganda Games: Sesame Credit - The True Danger of Gamification". Extra Credits. 16 December 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-10-29. Retrieved 6 February 2018 – via YouTube.

Further readingEdit

  • McQuail, Denis (2001) McQuail's Mass Communication Theory (fourth edition), Sage, London, pp. 16–34. MAS
  • Biagi, S. (2004). Media Impact. Wadsworth Pub Co, 7th edition.
  • Caron, A. H. and Caronia, L. (2007). Moving cultures: mobile communication in everyday life. McGill-Queen's University Press.