Media essentially encompasses various communication channels through which messages are conveyed to a large number of people. They include, print, audio, and visual. Print media includes newspapers, magazines, and posters among many whereas audio media includes radio, and podcasts among many. On the other hand, visual media mainly includes television and cinema. Media has evolved from historically crude form to the contemporary sophisticated system. In the United States of America, media has been developed and shaped by various major events. At the same time, media has had an influence in the society in various ways as discussed in this paper.
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Major Historical Events Impacting the Development of Media in the U.S.
The development of mass media in the United States was influenced by several events. During mid 19th century, the United States expanded from pacific to Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, the country experienced a rigorous phase of industrial revolution. Industrialization paved way for marketing of industrial products resulting to advertising phase that was from 1841 to 1929. The advertising phase created demand for advertising media resulting establishment of various mass media. Newspapers were the first media of advertisement. The first advertising agency, V.B. Palmer was established in 1841 in Philadelphia. It expanded to other cities in the U.S. (Blanchard, 1998).
In 1860s, civil war broke up in the United States. During this time, the essence of magazines was realized. Although magazines had been invented in 1841, they were not read widely and conclusively as it was the case during the period of civil war. During this time, detailed analysis of the events during the civil war was well documented. At the same time, the effect of war hampered timely delivery of newspapers meaning that magazines remained effective. In 1906, breakthrough was made in radio broadcasting paving way for audio communication. The development of motion pictures that commenced in 1907 culminated into television broadcasting in 1947. Thereafter, mass media has been undergoing some innovation and transformation to attract large audiences (Blanchard, 1998).
Model of Mass Communication and Influence of message on the Society
Mass communication is effected through different models. The earliest form is a one-step model communication whereby the message was directly passed to isolated individuals. Thereafter, the two-step model that is used in the modern generation was developed. In this model, the message reaches the opinion leader who interprets it to individuals attached to the leader. The two models are shown below:
Based on the two-step flow model, messages flow from the mass media to opinion leaders. The opinion leaders constitute the active, influential and educated segment of the society. The opinion leaders digest the information and disseminate it to the people in contact with them. The opinion leaders may disseminate the information to suit their own motives. As a result, the society will be influenced.
Influence of Media to Various Elements of American Culture
Through advertisements, the media has had a big influence on people’s lives and the American culture in general. This is because the adverts are very convincing thereby enabling people to do what they are told is good.
Change in Diet Behavior
The society today has been fed with different diet related ideas and as a result various technology related aspects have been embraced by the society such as slimming that has been embraced by the youths. Millions of adolescents have ended up in a fight against obesity. At the same time, they are exposed to copious ads of junk food in an environment where slenderness goes hand in hand with richness. Moreover, women have been obsessed with weight loss even when they are not obese. They therefore engage in poor eating habits which causes severe health problems that even leads to death (Straubhaar & Larose, 2004).
The moral behaviors that the culture held initially have been eroded. The youths are the most affected in their pursuit of acceptance by their peers as well as the need to be loved and succeed in life. The media has created an ideal image of what they pursue through movies and other materials. Therefore, they have been exposed to sex images and violence images. The desire to become what they see in movies, forgetting that movies are acted not real, changes them to become violent and immoral. The way people used to dress a few years ago is not the same as today. Personalities used for advertizing clothing or advertizing other products have been used as a role model. The young people emulate the celebrities in the media. This has also become acceptable by the culture according to the style that the media has obligated them.
Based on set objectives, the media can shape the public opinion in diverse ways. This takes place in matters, such as economic trends and anticipated polls, especially in political campaigns. Candidates who pay more on Television adverts have more public opinion and are eligible to more votes. The American politics have been shaped by public opinion from the media.
Blanchard, M. (1998). History of the mass media in the United States: an encyclopedia. Woshignton, DC.: Fitzroy Dearborn.
Straubhaar, J., & Larose, R. (2004). Media Now. Understanding Media in the Information Age. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Weimann, G. (1994). Is there a two-step flow of Agenda Setting? International Journal of Public Opinion , 6 (4), 323.