Mediation is a broad term that can be used in many different contexts to describe different types of mediation. It can also be used to describe the process of reconciling differences through a third-party mediator who takes on the responsibility of resolving an argument or other dispute in a court or elsewhere in some other formal setting. In a more general sense, mediation can also be described as the process of communicating and working through conflict by using impartial third-party channels to reach agreement on topics of debate and disagreement. The term therefore encompasses the wider range of elements of the larger media-based communication systems or instruments used to transmit and process information or facts.
The term is sometimes used loosely to describe any communication tool or medium that allows the distribution of information and ideas to the public. It could also be used to describe the broader concept of mass communication, including the various mediums for delivering content to the public. In this paper we will use the term “media” to refer to both broadcast and non-broadcast media. Broadly, media refer to elements of the mass media communication systems, including the broad print media, television, radio, cinema, print media, motion pictures, photographic art, and visual arts. Non-broadcast media refers to the information technologies used for telecommunications and personal computers. This paper will concentrate on the latter – on the development and history of mediation.
The history of mediation can be traced back to the rise of the print media. It is a valuable source of research material on the history of mediation in the broader context of the wider media/ mass media system of modern society. In particular, it can be seen as having profound effects on the evolution of modern journalism and mass communication. However, unlike conventional mass media which operates through the express medium of print, television, radio and telephones, mediation developed largely via the mediation of signals and audio and video, including through the mediation of live and recorded events (the so called “cinema”).
As is apparent from the foregoing, mediation developed and took root in two distinct but parallel modes. In one of these modes, media were predominantly mediated by means of oral communication channels such as the spoken word, music and even literary forms and stories. In the other of these modes, mediation developed mostly through visual and non-visual channels, such as the spectacle, motion images, computer networks and the web.
The emergence and relative success of television and the dramatic motion picture ensured that new outlets for mediation and cross-media communications were opened up. The first outlets to open up were the major broadsheets of the day (both online and offline), the weekly newspapers and periodicals, as well as the periodical magazines. Initially, these were mainly confined to providing information and entertainment. However, over time, these changed into becoming far more substantial news-gathering platforms. Moreover, while newspapers and magazines have largely continued to provide significant sources of information about local, national and international events, television has extended its remit to offering entertainment and informative programming aimed at engaging the viewer or reader. It is in this way that news and current affairs, celebrity gossip, sports events, and the like have managed to grab the attention of a wide spectrum of audience, in a manner that the printed media once had failed to accomplish.
As has been noted, newspapers and magazines emerged as major sources of information and entertainment, especially for the educated section of society. This is because newspapers and magazines are generally published and distributed by the large corporate and publishing houses, whose subscriptions go to support the numerous daily newspapers and magazines in circulation. Similarly, periodicals such as the magazines have been funded and published by non-profit organizations with the objective of providing a platform for writers and artists. Through this, many different types of artists and other stakeholders in the creative industry were able to participate and flourish. These are some of the important insights into the mediate process of media and publishing.