Key Concepts

– What is ‘the media’?

In a sense, ‘the media’ is everything; everything we see, hear and interact with. ‘Media’ is the plural of medium, a word meaning one thing between two others, therefore the ‘media’ can be expressed as a conduit through which we communicate. It is the process in which messages are channelled and pass between one being to another. It has become a conventional term used to describe modern means of electronic communication, such as television, radio, cinema the internet, as well as older forms such as newspapers.

From this we can produce ‘mass media’, the development of which various forms of media from a single source relay messages out to a wide audience (or destination) simultaneously. As society evolves and advances in technology adapt into our daily lifestyle, the media consequently is continuously changing and it shapes how we run our lives.

Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan stated ‘the medium is the message’ (1965), which concludes exactly what the media is, as a subject to be taken seriously within the modern world. He teaches us that due to the variety of media forms ‘we live, think and communicate differently from those generations who came before these forms.’ (Paul Long and Tim Wall, Media Studies: Texts, Production and Content, 2009).

– Why is it important to study it?

‘The media’ is pervasive; it is everywhere, which is why it is so important to each and every one of us. Modern society is inconceivable with it. It is all around us, shaping our very existence. Media studies as a subject was once not taken seriously, however it is becoming more and more influential on all of our lives.

It is constantly changing, therefore we need to understand how the media works and how it structures our lives. It is the world we live in, and to know the world we live in gives a sense of satisfaction; it is a complex relationship. To study the media, is in effect, the study of communication, and in turn our personal communication skills improve.

For me personally, it is important for me to study the media in order to develop a wider understanding of the constantly changing world and to become more involved in the media industry. I intend to be heavily connected within fields of media production, therefore the study of the subject will allow me to gain the qualifications and knowledge I need to do so, academically and subconsciously.

– How do we study it?

Whether we know it or not we study the media each and every day of our lives. It is portrayed to us in so many different varieties that we may not recognise it at first as a form of communication. It could be expressed through an advertisement on a billboard as you walk to work, or a news report you hear on the radio in your car.

In relative observation, we can confidently suggest that we study the media by watching the television, surfing the internet or opening a newspaper. Which is true, that is exactly how we study the media. Personally I study the subject in enthusiastic 9am lectures, as Media Production is my chosen course at University. I study media though examples of various forms: print based texts, moving image and physical objects, all of which rely messages in different ways.

– How do we talk about it?

We communicate either face to face or electronically to discuss aspects of the media. We can converse one to one or in larger groups. We talk about the media without realising, as well as through media devices (for example, mobile phones). Social networking sites such as Facebook, MSN and MySpace are a way of using the media to communicate and socialise with others. Television is a way of communicating on a large scale to a mass audience, and with the rapidly increasing freedom we are given in the media, we are able to interact and respond to things we see and hear through this form of communication.

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