What is Mass Communication?
Mass communication refers to the process of passing on information, thoughts, opinions, news, message, etc. on a large scale, i.e. to a large scattered population using mass media, such as broadcast media, digital media, social media, internet, print media, etc.
Typically, the transmission of a message to a vast population at a time is called mass communication. This facilitates instant transmission of the information, who live distantly from the source of information.
Mass communication is a part of Communication that remains at the peak of the communication pyramid. It involves society-wide communication, wherein technology is used by an organization to send messages to the audience. Live telecasts of a cricket match, broadcast speeches of ministers, crime stories in the news, etc are some common examples of mass communication.
This form of communication is different from interpersonal communication, as the sender is separated in space and time, from the receiver.
It is a mediated communication, in which a message created and produced by an organization is transmitted through a medium to an unknown and diverse audience, either electronically or mechanically. Meaning that the audience to whom the message is directed belong to different cultures, values, beliefs, and behavior. It is all about how the message is perceived by the people, which influences their behavior.
Components of Mass Communication
There are six main components of mass communication:
Sender: Writers, Producers, Reporters, or Agencies.
Mass: Reader, Viewers, Citizens, and Consumers.
Message: Main content to be delivered
Media channels: Newspapers, Films, magazines, Television, Radio, Internet, etc
Gatekeepers: Editors, Producers or Media Managers
Feedback: Letter to editors, website comments, television discussion, phone calls to news reporters, etc.
Characteristics of Mass Communication
With mass communication, the wide circulation of a message, for a specific objective in a short time is possible. It is characterized by:
- Specific Objective: Depending on the subject matter of the communication, mass communication also has a specific objective.
- Public Transmission: As the message is delivered to the general public, there is the public transmission of the message and so there is no privacy. Further, anyone can be a part of it, without any permission or effort.
- Common message: With the use of mass communication the same message is transferred or delivered to a vast, heterogeneous and dispersed audience. Further, the message is sophisticated and complex, but they are of short duration so that it can be easily consumed by the audience.
- Source of Message: The source of a message can be a person, group operating in an organization. This may include news reporters, magazine editors, television producers, etc.
- Low cost: Because the message is transmitted to a vast audience, the overall cost per exposure per person is the lowest.
- Limited information about audience: As the audience is widespread and diverse, the communicator has no to minimum knowledge about the audience to whom the message is posted. In fact, they are brought together by a particular shared interest. So, the communicator who is addressing millions of people at the same time, cannot adjust his/her appeal to satisfy their individual reaction. There are instances when an approach might convince one group of the audience, but not another.
- Mass medium: Various mass mediums to transmit messages to a large audience at a time, is used as radio, television, newspaper, magazine, billboards, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Vast audience: In mass communication, the message is delivered to millions and billions of people at the same time. One cannot exactly say to how many people the message is delivered
- Heterogeneous audience: As the audience belongs to various cultures, communities, ages, sections, backgrounds, demographics, etc. they are heterogeneous. They can be rich or they can be poor, they can be soldiers, or they can be doctors, they can be bureaucrats or they can be politicians, etc.
- Anonymous Audience: A message is communicated to an audience that is personally unknown to the sender of the message. One cannot specifically identify the characteristics of the audience. Suppose a person reads a specific newspaper today and after some days, he changed his mind and started reading some other newspaper. In the same way, some people started reading the former newspaper, so anyone could join or exit a particular media.
- Assorted Audience: In mass communication, the audience is not confined to a specific geographical location they are scattered across the world. And so they come from every nook and corner of the world.
- Rapid and continuous dissemination of message: Mass communication involves speedily and continuous flow of messages from the source to recipient.
- Delayed feedback: In mass communication, the feedback is slow, as well as the flow of the message, is weak, because of the one-way flow, i.e. from the source to the receiver. This results in indirect, delayed, and minimum feedback from the recipient.
- Presence of gatekeepers: It is a filtered communication, which means every message you read or watch, pass through a filtering process. The process is called gatekeeping, which is nothing but controlling the content of the message which is delivered to the audience, at different levels by selecting, changing, and rejecting the message.
- Limited Sensory Channels: Mass communication enables a person to use only one or two senses at the same time, i.e. while watching television a person uses his sense of sight and sense of hearing and limits the other senses like speaking, touching, and smelling.
Functions of Mass Communication
The main function of mass communication is to inform, entertain and educate people.
- Providing information to a large population.
- Developing a public opinion on any issue that concerns them.
- Persuading people in bringing change in their mindset, and beliefs relating to evil practices in society.
- Circulating information about new government rules and policies.
- Disseminating information related to schemes and programs run by the government to improve health and education such as vaccination, sanitation, birth control, etc.
- Source of pleasure and entertainment, delivering news about celebrities, fashion, cooking, technological changes, sports, and much more.
- Establishing and maintaining social contact and network among people belonging to different races, communities, and cultures.
- Promoting political ideologies, plans, and programs.
Mass Communication has a great impact and influence on society at large. It is not just about communicating with the masses, rather it also covers storytelling with a definite purpose and strategy. In this form of communication, the message is multiplied and delivered to a large audience at the same time.