Since the evolution of mass communication, the roles and effects of media have been under debate and bundles of studies have been conducted on these subjects. Earlier studies of mass communication’s effects and role were based upon an assumption that mass communication has direct effects on audiences and the audiences were assumed to be passive taking direct effects from media content. Such studies gave birth to hyper needle theory of mass media also called the magic bullet theory. Besides the effects studies roles of media in the lives people have also been under discussion from earlier 1920s till date
Industrialization brought revolutionary changes in the structure of society. Industries in order to make easier the availability of workforce made colonies nearby the factories and plants. People from various backgrounds started living there pursuing their jobs and a new contemporary society came into being where for information people relied on mass communication channels such as radio, newspaper, and television. A certain sense of alienation caused by the disassociation from community and breakdown of family system pushed members of the contemporary society to spend more time with television and other media.
Different types of media were used for different purposes, for instance, movies were prime source of entertainment, newspaper for news and so on. However, all of the media became a mix of functions being served by them. Mass media, as it became the primary source of information started playing roles in the lives of the media and certain effects of media were observed on audiences in a number effects studies.
Invasion from the Mars, surgeon General’s Report, Chapel Hill Study, Charlotte Study, Television in the lives of children, why we fight series, IOWA studies, Political communication campaign study in 1972 are the milestones in investigating the functions and roles of media in the lives of people. Basic theories of mass communication were evolved based on the findings of these studies.
Media as per its functions and roles is an essential part of a society and is often called the fourth pillar of the state. There are some functions that mass media inherently serves to the public, such as watchdog function, surveillance, a cultural Glue, entertainment, dissemination and diffusion of innovation, social norms validation etc.
Media serves as a watchdog for the society and public. This implies that media keeps an eye on the actions and policies of the state and keep the general public aware of what and how government is performing its functions. The pros and cons of the public policies and regulations are brought to the public on regular basis. This eye keeping of media is not limited to government only rather all other institutions holding any level of societal power is watched by media to serve the purpose of general awareness to the public.
The circulation of news and information about the society, nation and world is general and important role of media and is listed in the three major prime roles of mass media in society by Lasswell in the year of 1948.The other two functions mentioned by Lasswell are consensus and socialization. Surveillance involves following up the previous news events and covering the current.
Media keeps the various and diverse segments of the society together by sending messages that help built unity, solidarity and harmony in the society in which it is operating in. It caters the information and entertainment needs of all fragments in the society and by considering them a nation as a whole. Hence the media works as a cultural glue among the segments of the society.
Entertainment is the function that is served at largest by media around the world. Entertainment in itself serves many uses and gratification for the audiences. Entertainment has taken numbers of forms and genre catering the specific and personalized tastes and interests of the audiences covering every segment of audience from kids, women, men, elderly, etc.
Relationship tends to how the media presents actualities that we use to travel through the world. The data got through mass correspondence isn’t objective and without inclination. Individuals amusingly state “it must be valid if it’s on the web.” However, we don’t believe that in ages past individuals must have definitely expressed it “must be valid” in light of the fact that it was on the radio. This announcement makes one wonder, how valid are the media? Would we be able to devour media without addressing thought process and plan? Somebody chooses, orchestrates, translates, alters, and investigates the data utilized as a part of the media. In the event that you approach any individual who works for a noteworthy unscripted television appear if what we check whether a reasonable portrayal of what truly happens, the individual would most likely let you know “no.”
There is a familiar axiom in the news business “on the off chance that it drains, it drives,” which features the possibility of Sensationalization. Sensationalization is the point at which the media advances the most hair-raising messages to titillate purchasers. Elliot watches, “Media chiefs think as far as customers instead of subjects. Great news coverage offers, yet sadly, awful news-casting offers too. Also, terrible news coverage stories that essentially rehash government claims or that strengthen what people in general needs to hear as opposed to offering autonomous announcing – is less expensive and less demanding to deliver”.
Mass media capacities to activate individuals amid times of emergency (McQuail, 1994). Recollect the Boston Marathon Bombing. Notwithstanding your relationship to the occurrence, Americans felt the assault as a country and individuals took after the news until the point when they found the culprits. With moment access to media and data, we can all things considered witness similar occasions occurring continuously elsewhere, in this manner activating a substantial populace of individuals around a specific occasion. The online group Reddit.com is a key case of the web’s proactivity. While the FBI was examining the shelling, the Reddit people group was posting witness’ photographs and attempting to help distinguish the guilty parties. Individuals felt they were having any kind of effect.
Mass media capacities to approve the status and standards of specific people, developments, associations, or items. The approval of specific individuals or gatherings serves to authorize social standards (Lazarsfeld and Merton). On the off chance that you consider most TV shows and sitcoms, who are the essential characters? What sex and ethnicity are most of the stars? What sexual orientation and ethnicity are those that play crooks or those thought about unusual? The media approves specific social standards while lessening contrasts and varieties from those standards. A lot of feedback centers around how certain gatherings are advanced, and others minimized by how they are depicted in broad communications.