Media (communication)

In mass communication, media are the communication outlets or tools used to store and deliver information or data.[1][2] The term refers to components of the mass media communications industry, such as print media, publishing, the news media, photography, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television), digital media, and advertising.[3]

The development of early writing and paper enabling longer-distance communication systems such as mail, including in the Persian Empire (Chapar Khaneh and Angarium) and Roman Empire, can be interpreted as early forms of media.[4] Writers such as Howard Rheingold have framed early forms of human communication, such as the Lascaux cave paintings and early writing, as early forms of media.[5] Another framing of the history of media starts with the Chauvet Cave paintings and continues with other ways to carry human communication beyond the short range of voice: smoke signals, trail markers, and sculpture.[6]

The term media in its modern application relating to communication channels was first used by Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, who stated in Counterblast (1954): "The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists because they are art forms." By the mid-1960s, the term had spread to general use in North America and the United Kingdom. The phrase mass media was, according to H.L. Mencken, used as early as 1923 in the United States.[7][8]

The term medium (the singular form of media) is defined as "one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, as newspapers, radio, or television."[9]


The role of regulatory authorities (license broadcaster institutions, content providers, platforms) and the resistance to political and commercial interference in the autonomy of the media sector are both considered as significant components of media independence. In order to ensure media independence, regulatory authorities should be placed outside of governments' directives. this can be measured through legislation, agency statutes and rules.[10]

Government regulations[edit]


In the United States, the Radio Act of 1927 established that the radio frequency spectrum was public property. This prohibited private organizations from owning any portion of the spectrum.[11] A broadcast license is typically given to broadcasters by communications regulators, allowing them to broadcast on a certain frequency and typically in a specific geographical location. Licensing is done by regulators in order to manage a broadcasting medium and as a method to prevent the concentration of media ownership.[12]

Licensing has been criticized for an alleged lack of transparency. Regulatory authorities in certain countries have been accused of exhibiting political bias in favor of the government or ruling party, which has resulted in some prospective broadcasters being denied licenses or being threatened with license withdrawal. As a consequence, there has been a decrease in diversity of content and views in certain countries due to actions made against broadcasters by states via their licensing authorities. This can have an impact on competition and may lead to an excessive concentration of power with potential influence on public opinion.[13] Examples include the failure to renew or retain licenses for editorially critical media, reducing the regulator's competences and mandates for action, and a lack of due process in the adoption of regulatory decisions.[14]

Government endorsed appointments[edit]

State control is also evident in the increasing politicization of regulatory bodies operationalized through transfers and appointments of party-aligned individuals to senior positions in regulatory authorities. Dr Anatol Lieven in his book explains how Pakistan, a less economically developed country, regulated it's media in 1980's.[15]

Internet regulation[edit]

Governments worldwide have sought to extend regulation to internet companies, whether connectivity providers or application service providers, and whether domestically or foreign-based. The impact on journalistic content can be severe, as internet companies can err too much on the side of caution and take down news reports, including algorithmically, while offering inadequate opportunities for redress to the affected news producers.[10]


At the regional level[edit]

In Western Europe, self-regulation provides an alternative to state regulatory authorities. In such contexts, newspapers have historically been free of licensing and regulation, and there has been repeated pressure for them to self-regulate or at least to have in-house ombudsmen. However, it has often been difficult to establish meaningful self-regulatory entities.

In many cases, self-regulations exists in the shadow of state regulation, and is conscious of the possibility of state intervention. In many countries in Central and Eastern Europe, self-regulatory structures seems to be lacking or have not historically been perceived as efficient and effective.[16]

The rise of satellite delivered channels, delivered directly to viewers, or through cable or online systems, renders much larger the sphere of unregulated programing. There are, however, varying efforts to regulate the access of programmers to satellite transponders in parts of the Western Europe and North American region, the Arab region and in Asia and the Pacific. The Arab Satellite Broadcasting Charter was an example of efforts to bring formal standards and some regulatory authority to bear on what is transmitted, but it appears to not have been implemented.[17]

International organizations and NGOs[edit]

Self-regulation is expressed as a preferential system by journalists but also as a support for media freedom and development organizations by intergovernmental organizations such as UNESCO and non-governmental organizations. There has been a continued trend of establishing self-regulatory bodies, such as press councils, in conflict and post-conflict situations.[18]

Major internet companies have responded to pressure by governments and the public by elaborating self-regulatory and complaints systems at the individual company level, using principles they have developed under the framework of the Global Network Initiative. The Global Network Initiative has grown to include several large telecom companies alongside internet companies such as Google, Facebook and others, as well as civil society organizations and academics.[19]

The European Commission’s 2013 publication, ICT Technology Sector Guide on Implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, impacts on the presence of independent journalism by defining the limits of what should or should not be carried and prioritized in the most popular digital spaces.[20]

Private sector[edit]

Ranking Digital Rights indicator scores for policy transparency in regards to third-party requests for content or account restriction
Ranking Digital Rights indicator scores for policy transparency in regard to their terms of service enforcement (which impact upon content or account restrictions)

Public pressure on technology giants has motivated the development of new strategies aimed not only at identifying ‘fake news’, but also at eliminating some of the structural causes of their emergence and proliferation. Facebook has created new buttons for users to report content they believe is false, following previous strategies aimed at countering hate speech and harassment online. These changes reflect broader transformations occurring among tech giants to increase their transparency. As indicated by the Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, most large internet companies have reportedly become relatively more forthcoming in terms of their policies about transparency in regard to third party requests to remove or access content, especially in the case of requests from governments.[21][22] At the same time, however, the study signaled a number of companies that have become more opaque when it comes to disclosing how they enforce their own terms of service, in restricting certain types of content and account.[22] State governments can also use "Fake news" in order to spread propaganda.[23]

Fact-checking and news literacy[edit]

In addition to responding to pressure for more clearly defined self-regulatory mechanisms, and galvanized by the debates over so-called ‘fake news’, internet companies such as Facebook have launched campaigns to educate users about how to more easily distinguish between ‘fake news’ and real news sources. Ahead of the United Kingdom national election in 2017, for example, Facebook published a series of advertisements in newspapers with ‘Tips for Spotting False News’ which suggested 10 things that might signal whether a story is genuine or not.[24] There have also been broader initiatives bringing together a variety of donors and actors to promote fact-checking and news literacy, such as the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York’s School of Journalism. This 14 million USD investment by groups including the Ford Foundation and Facebook was launched in 2017 so its full impact remains to be seen. It will, however, complement the offerings of other networks such as the International Fact-Checking Network launched by the Poynter Institute in 2015 which seeks to outline the parameters of the field.[25] Instagram has also created a way to potentially expose "fake news" that is posted on the site. After looking in to the site, it seemed as more than a place for political memes, but a weaponized platform, instead of the creative space it used to be.[26] Since that, Instagram has started to put warning labels on certain stories or posts if third-party fact checkers believe that false information is being spread.[27] Instagram works with these fact checkers to ensure that no false information is being spread around the site.[28] Instagram started this work in 2019, following Facebook with the idea as they started fact checking in 2016.[28]

Electronic media[edit]

Developments in telecommunications has provided media the ability to conduct long-distance communication via analog and digital media:

Modern communication media includes long-distance exchanges between larger numbers of people (many-to-many communication via e-mail, Internet forums, and telecommunications ports). Traditional broadcast media and mass media favor one-to-many communication (television, cinema, radio, newspaper, magazines, and social media).[29][30]

See also[edit]


Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC BY SA 3.0 IGO (license statement/permission). Text taken from World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report 2017/2018​, 202, UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.


  1. ^ "What is media? definition and meaning".
  2. ^ Cory Janssen. "What is Communication Media? - Definition from Techopedia".
  3. ^ Martin Lister; Jon Dovey; Seth Giddings; Iain Grant; Kieran Kelly. New Media: A Critical Introduction (PDF) (2nd ed.).
  4. ^ Dunston, Bryan (2002). "Postal system". The Chicago School of Media Theory. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  5. ^ Livingstone, Sonia M.; Lievrouw, Leah A. (2009). New Media: A Critical Introduction. Taylor & Francis. pp. 52–53. ISBN 9780415431606.
  6. ^ Lule, Jack (2012). Globalization and Media: Global Village of Babel. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 33–34. ISBN 9780742568365.
  7. ^ Colombo, John Robert (1994). Colombo's All-Time Great Canadian Quotations. Stoddart Publishing. p. 176. ISBN 0-7737-5639-6.
  8. ^ Group 3. "The Evolution of Media". Evolution of Media. Retrieved 2022-02-11.
  9. ^ "medium". Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  10. ^ a b World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report 2017/2018 (PDF) (Report). UNESCO. 2018.
  11. ^ Radio Act of 1927 (Public Law 69-632), February 23, 1927, pages 186-200.
  12. ^ Nuechterlein, Jonathan; Weiser, Philip J. (2005). Digital Crossroads. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. p. 235. ISBN 9780262140911.
  13. ^ Hanretty, Chris (2014). "Media outlets and their moguls: Why concentrated individual or family ownership is bad for editorial independence". European Journal of Communication. 29 (3): 335–350. doi:10.1177/0267323114523150. ISSN 0267-3231. S2CID 53710900.
  14. ^ Buckley, Steve, Kreszentia Duer, Toby Mendel, and Sean O. Siochru. 2008. Broadcasting, Voice, and Accountability : A Public Interest Approach to Policy, Law, and Regulation. Washington, DC: World Bank.
  15. ^ Lieven, A., 2012.“Politics,” in Pakistan: A Hard Country, pp. 229–230.
  16. ^ Fengler, Susanne, Tobias Eberwein, Salvador Alsius, Olivier Baisnée, Klaus Bichler, Boguslawa Dobek-Ostrowska, Huub Evers, et al. 2015. How effective is media self-regulation? Results from a comparative survey of European journalists. European Journal of Communication 30 (3): 249–266.
  17. ^ World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development (PDF) (Report). Paris: UNESCO. 2014.
  18. ^ Lewis, David (2014). Non-Governmental Organizations, Management and Development. Oxfordshire, England, UK: Routledge. pp. 25, 71, 155.
  19. ^ "Global Network Initiative Adds Seven Companies in Milestone Expansion of Freedom of Expression and Privacy Initiative" (Press release). Global Network Initiative. March 28, 2017.
  20. ^ Shift and Institute for Human Rights and Business (2013). ICT Sector Guide on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF) (Report). European Commission. {{cite report}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  21. ^ "Ranking Digital Rights". Corporate Accountability Index. 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Ranking Digital Rights". Corporate Accountability Index. 2017.
  23. ^ Nadeem, M.A.; Mustafa, G.; Kakar, A. (2021). "Fifth Generation Warfare and its Challenges to Pakistan". Pakistan Journal of International Affairs. 4 (1).
  24. ^ "Tips to Spot False News | Facebook Help Center | Facebook". Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  25. ^ "International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers' code of principles". Poynter. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  26. ^ Al-Rawi, Ahmed (2021-03-03). "Political Memes and Fake News Discourses on Instagram". Media and Communication. 9 (1): 276–290. doi:10.17645/mac.v9i1.3533. ISSN 2183-2439. S2CID 233468644.
  27. ^ "Help Center". Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  28. ^ a b Harrison, Sara. "Instagram Now Fact-Checks, but Who Will Do the Checking?". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  29. ^ "What is telecommunications? Definition and meaning". Market Business News. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  30. ^ "1 to Many, Many to Many and Many to 1 – for PR and Inbound". Imre. Retrieved 7 March 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • McQuail, Denis (2001) McQuail's Mass Communication Theory (fourth edition), Sage, London, pp. 16–34. MAS
  • Biagi, S. (2004). Media Impact. Wadsworth Pub Co, 7th edition.
  • Caron, A. H. and Caronia, L. (2007). Moving cultures: mobile communication in everyday life. McGill-Queen's University Press.