Maybe you’re considering a mass communication degree or other higher education credential in mass communication studies. If so, you must have a clear understanding of exactly what mass communication is. Fundamentally, mass communication is the process of disseminating information to mass audiences. Mass communication differs from other types of communication. It is often compared with interpersonal communication or organizational communication, for example. Media and mass communication can be broken down into different categories. That is, there are different types of mass communication. Some of these sub-fields include journalism, advertising, marketing, public relations, and political communication.
Of course, there is a huge amount of crossover between all these different mass communication areas. That’s because each is a single component of our massive communication complex. Professionals in the industry have in-depth knowledge of these categories. They make use of print media, written communication, and visual communications (e.g., graphic design, video, photography). Different types of mass communication tools help them fulfill their role within their specific mass communication organization. To disseminate the information to the general public, professionals make use of a variety of platforms, including new media platforms. Some of these include print media, radio stations, websites, social and digital media, television broadcasting, online video platforms, and other mass communication venues.
Mass communication is a large umbrella. Most organizations engage in all facets of mass media simultaneously for the purpose of transmitting information to a large group of people. In this article, we will take a look at the major types of mass communication. We’ll also break down the role each plays in our society.
Journalism and Mass Communication
In our digital age, journalism comes in many forms. You can find it in newspapers, network television, cable news, radio, YouTube news channels, and even on social platforms. Here, both reporters and amateur citizen journalists document events on the ground as they happen. But when most people think of journalism, they think of the big mass communication news outlets that have dominated recent media history. This includes verbal and written media publications like the New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, and other major papers and television networks. Journalism, though, transcends these media giants. It is a profession dedicated to keeping people up to date on important information, events, and social issues from around the world.
Good journalism is fact-based, well-sourced, and paints an accurate picture of the world in which we live. Yet, there are some fundamental tensions in modern society that make it challenging to engage in true journalism. Most major news outlets are for-profit organizations. This means they are incentivized to focus on stories that will grasp the audience’s attention. Moreover, they’re compelled to present those stories in the most enticing, attention-grabbing ways. Major news organizations have to compete with lots of independent online startups. These are agencies breaching the traditional borders of mass communication. Unfortunately, many of these organizations specialize in creating headlines that sacrifice accuracy for the sake of generating interest.
When it comes to mass communication, modern journalists have it tough. In an era when we have more information available to us than anyone could possibly consume, journalists face new dilemmas. How do you make stories with important, relevant information stand out? And how do you do this in a way that is ethical and presents information accurately? This type of content creation is not easy. Some even say that professional journalism is dying out. Sadly, this theory is somewhat supported by current job statistics. The employment outlook is bleak for some of the major players in mass communication. Examples include reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts.
Those who want to pursue employment in mass communication should be forewarned. This is what we know about the various career options in this industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reporters, correspondents, and broadcast media analysts have a median pay of just $48,370 per year. There is a silver lining, though. The highest paid 10% in this mass communication field earn over $120,590 per year. Keep in mind that the most lucrative positions in this field may be reserved for professionals with the most impressive credentials. This could include those with a master’s degree in mass media or communication studies. Still, the industry is not growing as steadily as one might hope. The job market for these professions is expected to increase by a meager 6% between 2020 and 2030.
Many journalists are striking out on their own. Some are starting their own YouTube channels and social platforms to capture the attention of various mass communication markets. In some ways, this is a positive development. But, such organizations typically operate on a shoestring budget. Thus, they don’t have the resources to fund investigative journalism projects that help to keep companies and politicians honest.
The future of journalism is in flux. The profession may look incredibly different ten years from now. In a free society, the ability to present information on a large scale is crucial. Journalism is also one of the most important, if not profitable, areas of mass communication and media.
Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations in Mass Communications
When people think of marketing and advertising, they might have various ideas. The first thing that comes to mind might be ads in a magazine. Others may think of billboards, or television and radio station commercials. But marketing is another mass communication field that has seen incredible evolutions in the age of social media marketing and digital media. In our digital world, you might feel like almost everything you see online is some form of marketing. And for the most part, you’re right. Below, we list some quotes by marketing industry gurus. These are intended to show the all-encompassing nature of marketing and digital marketing strategies:
- The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. -Tom Fishburne
- Content is fire. Social media is gasoline. -Jay Baer
- The attention economy is not growing, which means we have to grab the attention that someone else has today. -Brent Leary
Media professionals know that modern marketing is about engagement with their target audience. Today, companies engage with their customers and potential customers through social media. Often through storytelling. Even television and magazine ads may focus on designs with the potential to go viral online. Nowadays, the Internet allows more and more people with niche interests to come together and form communities. Thus, digital marketing is becoming more and more about engaging those niche communities. This is leading to incredibly fast innovations in marketing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for marketing managers is $135,030 per year. Social media specialists fall under the umbrella of public relations specialists. According to the BLS they can expect a median annual wage of $62,800. Wages will vary based on experience, though. They may also depend on whether professionals hold certain credentials such as an undergraduate degree or master’s degree in the field.
Political Mass Communication
Political mass communication combines many aspects of both marketing and journalism. Like journalism and news media, political mass communication requires communication about high-stakes social and legal issues. These are issues that tend to be incredibly complex. Thus, they must be made digestible for and interesting to the average person. Professionals trained in political communication use strategies based on mass communication theory and mass communication research. This can include analyzing messages for effectiveness, evaluating majority opinion, and even agenda setting.
Like marketing professionals, people who work in political mass communication must also persuade people to see things a certain way. This is necessary to garner their support, whether financial or at the ballot box. Politicians hire public relations and marketing experts to work with policy analysts and other professionals. The result is what’s known as communications consulting teams. Their job is to help turn political policies into compelling issues that capture the minds of the voting public. These professionals then work with speech writers to craft a general message based on policy initiatives and public opinion.
Where it gets complicated is determining how best to communicate that message. Options include various social media platforms and mass communication channels. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media forms all have a variety of restrictions in how they are used. Audiences have different expectations for content on each of the platforms. What works on Twitter may not work on TikTok. But with the crossover, what works on TikTok may be shared on Twitter. Mass communication professionals must take into account how they create content for specific platforms. It’s an incredibly complex task.
Political mass communication asks a lot of politicians and their teams. These professionals must interact with every single major communication platform in multiple ways. They create ads for the internet and television, newspapers, and magazines. Politicians often have political social media accounts. This is where they interact with their base and the public at large. Everything they say and do is analyzed and critiqued both by their supporters and their opposition. Any small misstep can turn them into the laughingstock of the nation. It’s high-pressure, high-stakes work. We already listed the salaries of marketing and public relations experts above. These mass communication professionals can expect to make similar money in politics. Most positions require bachelor’s degrees. Typically, requirements include a degree in mass communication, media studies, or related fields.
Conclusions About Mass Communication
Mass communication is a broad field. It enables interaction with every level of society through news stories, television programs, advertisements, and political messaging. Even non-profit organizations and public health agencies make use of mass communications. Whether you’re reporting on important events, advocating for a politician, or selling your company’s latest innovative product, you’re competing with everyone else in the media industry. All this chatter is happening all at once over the most comprehensive information network in the history of the world. Mass media is all-encompassing, especially when fueled by information technology. And people look to the many various forms of mass communication mentioned in this article to provide them with context and meaning.
Never before have people had the ability to so easily reach the minds of a large audience comprised of millions of people. And never before have there been so many ways of doing so effectively. For all the powerful means of communication our mass media platforms provide, they are, essentially, neutral. The effect they have on our society as a whole comes down to how they are used. Mass communication can be used to make peoples’ lives better or worse. Its main focus can be to humanize people, or dehumanize them.
With mass communication, there are so many competing concerns and interests at play. It’s difficult to tell whether media and mass communication will have a good or bad effect on society at large over time. It seems like every year brings new ways to engage with people via mass communication. Innovation keeps mass media communication professionals scrambling. They’re constantly striving to learn how to best use new technologies and adapt to the latest ways people consume information. One thing is for sure. With its many potential careers, mass communication will never be boring. It promises to be an exciting field full of highs and lows as well as challenges and triumphs for anyone who works in it.
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