Media is the information media or tools used to transmit and store data or information. The word refers generally to elements of the multimedia communications industry, including television, radio, print media, cinema, video, publishing, and television advertising. The term is also used to refer to visual arts, including motion pictures, television, movies, and video games. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct entities.
Media can refer to any one or combination of these elements. It is usually used as a synonym for electronic media. Electronic media refer to computer software and hardware, including personal computers, handheld devices, game consoles, and the like. Social media refers to online social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and others. These types of communication channels are rapidly expanding into the realm of offline communications and marketing.
In earlier years, the term media was often used to refer to printed publications, mainly newspapers, magazines, and books. In recent years, however, this term has expanded to include more specific, non-traditional sources such as the Internet, radio, and television, as well as the means of communication used by human beings. As such, the definition of media has become far more vague, with the expansion of its meaning potentially encompassing all potential communication channels, including e-mail, blogging, social networking, and the World Wide Web. This is not to say, however, that the term has no application to human interaction in the real world. For example, television advertising is not considered a form of media for the modern business environment; rather, it serves a functional purpose, providing entertainment to the audience.
The expansion of media into all mediums and sectors of society raises the issue of media independence. Some consider this as an infringement on freedom of expression. Others, however, see the expansion of media as something positive, expanding the range of information and debate that is available to citizens. For those who believe that the expansion of media into all sectors of society is detrimental to the overall quality of life, the Internet offers a ray of hope. On the Internet, one can communicate with people from any part of the world and thus, one can improve interpersonal relationships, expand business ventures, and increase one’s level of media independence.
As the Internet continues to grow, so too does the expansion of media types. For example, news reports, radio shows, movies, television, and Internet blogs have all come to be accepted forms of communication. While television, newspapers, magazines, and books remain the primary sources of information for most people, these three mediums of communication have been joined together in a single, powerful media outlet, the Internet. As the Internet continues to expand, human communication through various forms of media will be just as available as through other sources, though the scope of this type of media will be infinitely greater.
When discussing the relationship between mass media and society, it is important to remember that they are not separate entities; rather, they are one and the same. The expansion of media technologies is, therefore, an expansion of society itself. Human beings have always been fascinated by the form, shape, and size, and the Internet will not fundamentally change this. What will change is the way we process information and use it to shape our world.