What is Mass Communication? Meaning, Define, Function, Types & Example


Mass communication simply refers to the act of transferring or disseminating information from a person, a large group of people, or an organization to the general public or a specific group of people using various tools of mass communication.

Here in this article, we will discuss What is Mass Communication? Meaning, Definition, Functions, types, and examples. Along with this, we will cater to all essential topics including its history, scope, features, and characteristics.

► What is Mass Communication?

Mass communication is one of the significant forms of communication in today’s era. It is a process of disseminating messages to a large number of audiences using various tools like television, newspapers, radio, and digital media.

It is the easiest and very quick method of transferring information to a large number of people around the globe.

◉ Mass Communication Meaning 

Mass communication simply means the process of creating, sending, receiving, and giving feedback to a mass audience through the newspaper, radio, television, and digital media.

  • The English word ‘mass communication’ has two terms.
  • ‘Mass’ means a large group of people and ‘Communication’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Communicare’ and Latin noun ‘Communis’ which means “to make common”.

It is mainly concerned with how the information disseminated persuades or lays impacts the behavior, attitude, feeling, thinking opinion, or emotion of the people receiving that information.

Definition of Mass Communication

Mass communication is defined as the transfer of messages through larger media platforms i.e Television, Radio, Print Media, and also via technology-driven channels like News Portals, Youtube Channels, Facebook and Instagram Pages, etc. to a large audience.

There are several definitions of authors who defined it in their way, some of the definitions are listed below:

Littlejohn and Foss defined mass communication as

“the process where media organizations produce and transmit messages to large public and the process by which those messages are sought, used, understood, and influenced by the audience”.

  • McQuaid states that mass communication is, “only one of the processes of communication operating at the society-wide level, readily identified by its institutional characteristics”.
  • According to Metha, “Mass communication is concerned with transmitting information, thoughts, and opinions, entertainments, etc. at a time to a large number of heterogeneous audiences.”
  •  Emery and others said, “Mass communication is a process of sending a message, thought and attitude through some media at a time to a large number of heterogeneous audiences.”
  • R. P. Molo stated, “Mass communication is a process through which an individual, organization or govt. communicates with the general people.”

Elements of Mass Communication

The concept of Mass communication revolves around certain elements that are listed below;

  • Mass audience/ large group of audience
  • Mass communication tools (Channel / Medium)
  • Message (in the form of News, Briefing, Information)
  • Fast dissemination of the message
  • Proper flow

► History of Mass Communication

Mass Communication primarily developed in just the last 500 years. Its history is stretched around the emergence of books, newspapers, radio, television, and the internet.

Let’s take a look at the history of Mass Communication in more detail;

  • Books are one of the oldest and the first source of communication, the first known book was written in Egypt around 1400 B.C. Books were earlier not produced in bulk due to the lack of appropriate technology. The first printing press was invented in 1455.
  • Newspapers are considered to be the oldest mass medium. Some kind of News-sheets called ‘Acta Diurna’ appeared in 100 B.C. in Rome, containing some political information which was placed on the roman square roughly 400 to 500 years ago.
  • The development of magazines was also a bit slow. The term magazine is derived from the French word “Magasin”. The earliest magazine was a German magazine named, Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredunge which was started by Johann Rist, he was a theologian as well as a poet of Hamburg.
  • Electronic media developed more quickly than other media. The emergence of Radio took place in the 1920s.
  • Television came later in the 1940s, later followed by several developments in the field of broadcasting and the emergence of cable television and satellite communications.
  • The mass medium used in today’s era is the Internet, which totally changed communication patterns. The Internet emerged on January 1, 1983.

Historical Facts About Mass Communication

  • Basic Printing Technology was invented in 800AD.
  • The invention of Gutenberg’s Printing Press in 1455.
  • The first Weekly Printed Newspaper was developed in Antwerp in 1605.
  • The invention of the Radio by Marconi in 1895.
  • The invention of the Television by John Logie Baird in 1925.
  • The Internet (the World Wide Web) is invented by Tim Berners Lee in 1990.
  • Wilbur Schramm is known as the “Father of Mass Communication”.

Must Read :What is Yellow Journalism?

► Feature & Characteristics of Mass Communication

Mass communication has several important characteristics some of which are listed below:

  • Covers large area
  • Heterogeneous audience
  • Use of tools of mass communication
  • Doesn’t have a direct feedback method
  • No discrimination is there
  • Fast source of communication
  • Circulates common message

Let’s discuss these characteristics in more detail;

  1. Covers large area: As the name mass communication itself defines that it covers a mass audience, which simply means it caters large area for disseminating information.
  2. Heterogeneous audience: the audience of mass communication is heterogeneous in nature. There are different people of different ages, interset, needs, feelings, caste creeds, etc.
  3. Use of tools of mass communication: The process of mass communication is only possible through its various tools including, television, newspapers, radio, and various digital media.
  4. Doesn’t have a direct feedback method: there is no direct feedback available in mass communication. There can be the possibility of poor response from the receiver.
  5. No discrimination is there: the sender is almost unaware of the audience, from their caste, religion, or creed so there is no chance of discrimination on any basis.
  6. Fast source of communication: it is the fastest means of communication to reach a large audience around the globe at the same time. It saves time as well.
  7. Circulates common message: in the process of mass communication, a common message is circulated to the audience.

► Functions of Mass Communication

  • To inform audience
  • To educate audience
  • To entertain audience
  • To persuade audience
  • To transmit different cultures

Let us now discuss these functions in more detail;

  1. To inform the audience: One of the major tasks of mass communication is to inform the audience about various information. It informs the audience about various happenings, crimes, policies, current affairs, and many more things happening around the globe. It keeps people updated about each and everything.
  2. To educate the audience: it provides education to people through various educational programs coming on the radio, television, and digital media. Every sort of information provides some sort of education to us. So it helps to reach that information very fastly. Internet is playing a vital role in the process of education. Most of the students get the required knowledge from various apps and websites available on the internet.
  3. To entertain the audience: mass media is a great source of entertainment-based programs. There are various entertainment programs including music shows, dance shows, cartoons, web series, movies, serials, etc.
  4. To persuade the audience: mass media is used to mold public opinion in a certain way. People get easily influenced by mass media. There are different ads related to smoking, sex, dowry, etc which try to change public opinion.
  5. To transmit different cultures: through mass communication, people get connected to different people from different cities, states, and countries. They learn about various practices practiced by different people in different states, cities, and countries. Mass communication plays a vital role in cultural transmission.

► Importance of Mass Communication

  • Fast means of disseminating information.
  • It helps in building public opinion.
  • Very significant to persuade the beliefs, thinking, and opinions of people.
  • helps in educating people.
  • It is a great source of entertainment.
  • Helpful in providing prior information about many things.
  • It brings various truths and facts to us.
  • It helps in cultural transmission.

► Scope of Mass Communication

  • In Trade and commerce
  • In Social affairs
  • In human resources management
  • In Political affairs
  • In the field of Education
  1. Great scope in Trade and commerce: For increasing production and sale in the field of trade and commerce, it plays a very significant role with the help of wide reach and publicity methods a particular firm can reach its goal in very less time.
  2. Great scope in Social affairs: Social affairs like floods, drought, and other natural calamities can easily bring in front of everyone and necessary actions can be taken very quickly. Along with this many sufferings of people can be brought in front of the people through mass communication.
  3.  Great scope in human resources management: with the help of mass communication workers can learn many things and improve their skills. There is a great scope and job opportunities in this field.
  4.  Great scope in Political affairs: almost each and every political leader, and parties convey their message with the help of mass media.
  5. Great scope in the field of Education: mass communication plays a very significant role in the field of education. There are many educational programs that are conducted by the government as well as by other organizations.

► Types of Mass Communication

There are five types of mass communication media used to disseminate information around the globe:

  1. Print media
  2. Broadcast media
  3. Outdoor media
  4. Transit media
  5. Digital media

Let us now discuss these in brief:

✔ 1) Print Media

Print media is the oldest and first means of mass media used for the dissemination of information to a large audience. It includes newspapers, magazines, books, journals, weekly newspapers, comics, quarter newspapers, etc.

People enjoy reading newspapers and magazines, their day starts with a cup of tea and a newspaper or magazine. Print media along with a source of news stories and other information, it is a great source of entertainment as well. Newspapers have game corners possessing games like sudoku, riddles, and puzzles.

Newspapers, magazines, journals, etc are now published digitally, readers can now easily access them from their mobile phones, computers, and other devices. Novels and comics are great combinations of learning with entertainment. Thus, in today’s era digital media and other media are used more but print media has its own essence and importance.

✔ 2) Broadcast Media

The emergence of broadcast media brought a boom in the world. The invention of the radio and television changed the world of mass communication. It includes radio, television, recorded music, and movies.

Music records were developed in the 1870s and are considered to be the first non-print source of mass communication.

Recording took a pace again in the 1950s when LP( long play) vinyl record was invented, then came eight track-tapes, which were followed by the invention of vinyl and cassettes in 1965.  Compact discs are considered to be the greatest invention in recording arts.

Radio is one of the oldest forms of mass communication which has successfully maintained its essence. However, now most of the things are digital radios are also available online, which has made them accessible without carrying a radio with you. Online radios listen more than those who work on certain frequencies.

Film and television are the most used sources of entertainment and information for around 90% of people around the globe. It is one of the most vital types of communication which has both audio-visual aspects which makes it more engaging. Along with this TV and films contribute a lot in terms of generating employment and increasing the economy.

✔ 3) Outdoor Media

Outdoor Media advertising is specifically used by organizations and several brands to target customers in a particular geographic area.  It includes billboards, pamphlets, ads in restaurants, etc. There are also several other ways of outdoor advertising which include mobile, digital, lamp posts, advertising on street walls, etc.

✔ 4) Transit Media

Transit media is widely used for the purpose of advertising. It is also considered one of the effective methods of advertising. It includes posters, banners, notices, etc which are placed on means of transportation such as busses, autos, trains, and many others.

Through this, a large number of audience reads and see this advertisement. Transit media is generally used for advertising products, ideas, and services and spreading social information/ issues and awareness to common people.

✔ 5) Digital Media

Digital media has totally changed the scenario of mass communication. It is now the new and most used mode of transmission of information to a large group of people at one time.  It is considered the most powerful tool of mass media.

It is also called new media, it has all the essential components which make digital media one of the best and easiest ways of disseminating information. It includes varieties of things like emails, blogs, videos podcasts, websites, and many others. Digital media also has one of the most used and powerful tools social media. Social media is a great platform for the dissemination of information to a wide audience.

Social media enables to reach specific target audiences by making groups. E-books, E- newspapers, and E-magazines are also part of digital media that provide plenty of entertainment and knowledge to people.

► Examples of Mass Communication

There are many significant examples or sources of mass communication some prominent examples are listed below:

  1. Journalism
  2. Entertainment
  3. Books
  4. Advertising
  5. Social media

Let us now discuss these examples in more detail.

✔ Journalism

Mass media plays a very important role in journalism. News is produced and disseminated with the help of tools of mass communication such as TV, radio, etc.

✔ Entertainment

mass media is a great source of entertainment. It transmits several programs like TV serials, cartoons, movies, etc. Movies or films are also a great source of entertainment. There are Movies with social messages which provide knowledge and information to the audience.

✔ Social Media

Nowadays social media is the most used platform for many purposes. It connects people from different parts of the world and lets us learn new things. Some of the social media platforms are YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

✔ Books

Books either in hard copy or e-books are mass media. A large number of people read them and gain knowledge. It has a great reach and it is capable of providing in-depth knowledge about many topics.

✔ Advertising

Advertising is done through various tools like TV, radio, outdoor advertising, transit advertising, and many more. Various firms advertise to promote brands, products, goods, and services.