The pandemic Covid 19 has only proved the importance of communication in our daily lives. Though we practiced physical distancing to keep the virus away, but we were able to communicate with our near and dear ones with the help of technological advancements in communication. Our mobile phones, internet and social media made it possible for us to stay connected. We got all the updates about the happenings in the world from the television, newspapers and other online platforms. The FM Radio channels continued entertaining us. All these are nothing but mediums of communication.
If you have a desire to understand more about how media functions and the world of news, social media and journalism interests you, then this is the right career choice for you. Allow me to acquaint you with some of the most basic concepts related to the study of media and communication. You would study this and much more as a part of your B.A. (Honours) in Media and Communication.
What is Communication?
Communication is the act of transmitting ideas, thoughts, emotions or any other meaningful information which the sender wants to convey to the receiver. We may communicate with spoken words, non verbal gestures like hand movements or signs and symbols. We also need a medium or channel for communicating. You must be familiar with the mediums of mass communication like radio, newspapers, television, internet which have a great role in our daily lives.
What are the different elements of communication?
One of the earliest models of mass communication, Lasswell model (1948) says that the sender, message, channel, receiver and the effect are the basic elements of the communication process.
The most basic elements of a communication process are sender, message, channel and receiver. The sender is the source of the message; the receiver is the person who is receiving the message. The message is the content or information which the sender is disseminating to the receiver through the channel. The channel or the medium is what carries the message to the receiver.
Another very important element of the communication process is feedback. The sender needs to get the feedback from the receiver in order to know whether the receiver has understood the intended meaning of the message. Also, it helps the sender to understand whether the message has the desired effect on the receiver.
What is Mass Media?
The media which we use to transfer messages to the masses, is called mass media or in simple words, the medium of mass communication.
The purpose of communication
So why do we communicate? Communication is the very basic need of human being and with the development of the civilization; the functions of communication have also expanded. Denis McQuail, a communication theorist, in his book Mass Communication theory, describes the following functions of mass communication:
According to him, we get most of the news and information from the mass media, so that is one of the imperative functions. For instance, during the lockdown, how did you get all the news about the virus increasing in every part of the world? The sources were newspapers, television and the World Wide Web. So, we were dependent on the mass media for every bit of information. Almost every television viewer turned to watch the Prime Minister live to know what he has to say to the nation. Thus, we all are dependent on mediums of mass communication for receiving information about the world around us.
Also, advertising is yet another popular medium for letting the society know about the different products and services which are available in the market. Even during the pandemic, advertisers tried every possible measure to attract the attention of the consumers. Imagine how the big business would run into losses, if the consumer would have no information about the goods they are producing! How would they sell their goods and services?
The medium of mass communication also provide interpretation and explanation of the news and events. The mass media decides what is newsworthy or not.
In transmission of the culture, communication plays a big role. It is through communication only, that we pass on our ideas, opinions, and culture to the next generation. The mass mediums have a great role in shaping the popular culture. The popular culture is most accepted beliefs and practices in the society.
We all are dependent on mass media to provide us with diversion, relaxation and entertainment. The mass media has a big role in providing us with relaxation. During the lockdown, the movie theatres were all closed, thus the audience all moved to OTT platform for watching web series. This led to a boost in the viewership of web series and the business of the online streaming platforms.
This function of mobilization is to bring the society together and create awareness for a cause. Today, anyone can use the social media to start a mass media campaign and fight for a cause by gaining the attention and support of the society.
Media and communication are vibrant fields of study and have a lot of scope in future. According to the FICCI-EY 2019 report, Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector grew 13.4% over 2017 and reached INR1.67 trillion (US$23.9 billion) in 2018. It is also expected to cross INR2.35 trillion (US$33.6 billion) by 2021. So, it is a field where a lot of opportunities will be created.
- Mass Communication theory by Denis McQuail
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