The mass media are diversified media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place varies. Broadcast media such as radio, recorded music, film and television transmit their information electronically. Print media use a physical object such as anewspaper, book, pamphlet or comics, to distribute their information. Outdoor media is a form of mass media that comprises billboards, signs or placards placed inside and outside of commercial buildings, sports stadiums, shops and buses. Other outdoor media include flying billboards (signs in tow of airplanes), blimps, and skywriting. Public speaking and event organising can also be considered as forms of mass media. The digital media comprises both Internet and mobile mass communication.
Internet media provides many mass media services, such as email, websites, blogs, and internet based radio and television. Many other mass media outlets have a presence on the web, by such things as having TV ads that link to a website, or distributing a QR Code in print or outdoor media to direct a mobile user to a website. In this way, they can utilise the easy accessibility that the Internet has, and the outreach that Internet affords, as information can easily be broadcast to many different regions of the world simultaneously and cost-efficiently. The organizations that control these technologies, such as television stations or publishing companies, are also known as the mass media.
The Internet is a global network connecting millions of computers. More than 100 countries are linked into exchanges of data, news and opinions. According to Internet World Stats, as of December 31, 2011 there was an estimated 2,267,233,742 Internet users worldwide. The number of Internet users represents 32.7 percent of the world’s population. Unlike online services, which are centrally controlled, the Internet is decentralized by design. Each Internet computer, called a host, is independent. Its operators can choose which Internet services to use and which local services to make available to the global Internet community. Remarkably, this anarchy by design works exceedingly well. There are a variety of ways to access the Internet. Most online services offer access to some Internet services. It is also possible to gain access through a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP).
The Internet has become impossible to ignore in the past two years. Even people who do not own a computer and have no opportunity to “surf the net” could not have missed the news stories about the Internet, many of which speculate about its effects on the ever-increasing number of people who are on line. Why, then, have communications researchers, historically concerned with exploring the effects of mass media, nearly ignored the Internet? With 25 million people estimated to be communicating on the Internet, should communication researchers now consider this network of networks 1 a mass medium? Until recently, mass communications researchers have overlooked not only the Internet but the entire field of computer-mediated communication, staying instead with the traditional forms of broadcast and print media that fit much more conveniently into models for appropriate research topics and theories of mass communication. However, this paper argues that if mass communications researchers continue to largely disregard the research potential of the Internet, their theories about communication will become less useful.
Not only will the discipline be left behind, it will also miss an opportunity to explore and rethink answers to some of the central questions of mass communications research, questions that go to the heart of the model of source-message-receiver with which the field has struggled. This paper proposes a conceptualization of the Internet as a mass medium, based on revised ideas of what constitutes a mass audience and a mediating technology. The computer as a new communication technology opens a space for scholars to rethink assumptions and categories, and perhaps even to find new insights into traditional communication technologies. This paper looks at the Internet, rather than computer-mediated communication as a whole, in order to place the new medium within the context of other mass media. Mass media researchers have traditionally organized themselves around a specific communications medium. The newspaper, for instance, is a more precisely defined area of interest than printing-press-mediated communi- cation, which embraces more specialized areas, such as company brochures or wedding invitations. Of course, there is far more than a semantic difference between conceptualizing a new communication technology by its communicative form than by the technology itself. The tradition of mass communication research has accepted newspapers, radio, and television as its objects of study for social, political, and economic reasons. As technology changes and media converge, those research categories must become flexible.