Introduction to Mass Communication MCM 101
SEVEN CENTURIES OF MASS COMMUNICATION FROM PRINTING TO COMPUTER
As if printing process was an invention long been eagerly awaited to bolster communication at the
level of masses, it opened doors for creation and discoveries of many valuable means in the area of mass
transaction of messages which, as the time proved, had far reaching impression on the growth of societies,
cultures, habits, disputes and organizations which could help people live in a world close to each other.
The printing process was first proved helpful to long desire of authors to reach a high number of readers.
As the books circulation increased in the next hundred years, which also included works on different
scientific discoveries and sharing of newer physical ideas, it was the turn to publish things regularly. Since
people's interest was enormous in buying and reading books, an idea to bring out a publication on regular
basis was never ruled out.
It took almost two hundred years that the concept of regular publication appeared in the form of
newspapers. There are conflicting ideas as who brought out the first newspaper in the world and how long
it had sustained but according to the World Association of Newspapers, the first titled English language
private newspaper, The Corrant, was first published in London in 1621.
The first English daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was founded by Samuel Buckley on 11 March 1702.
In 1631 The Gazette, the first French newspaper was founded. In 1690, Public Occurrences in Boston
became the first newspaper published in America. In 1803, just 15 years after the first British penal colony
was established, Australia's military government published the Sydney Gazette and the New South Wales
Advertiser, Australia's first newspapers.
1884 Otto Merganthaler invents the Linotype machine which casts type in full lines, using hot lead, a
quantum leap in newspaper publishing, and ushering in the era of "hot lead." The systems remained in
general production in the industry well into the 1980s, when computerized pagination became prominent.
This printing process was assumed by hundreds of regular publications of newspapers and magazines
around the world and remained in frequent use for almost a hundred year.
1962 L.A. Times derived Linotype hot metal typesetters with perforated tape. The key was development of
a dictionary and a method to automate the hyphenation and justification of text in columns (tasks that took
up 40% of a manual operator's time). With the availability of other technologies and support like advanced
mechanics and electricity more experimentation were done in publishing industry.
Since the 1980s, many newspapers have been printed with three-color process photography and graphics.
This highlights the fact that the layout of the newspaper is of major importance in getting attention so
readers will see and enjoy large sections of the newspaper.
Circulation and Readership
United Nations' data from 1995 indicates that Japan is the country with most newspaper
readership. It has three daily papers with a circulation well above 4 million. Germany's Bild, with a
circulation of 4.5 million, was the only other paper in that category.
USA Today has daily circulation of approximately 2 million, making it the most widely distributed paper in
Almost all newspapers make almost all their money from advertising. Publishers of commercial
newspapers strive for higher circulation so that advertising in their newspaper becomes more effective,
allowing the newspaper to attract more advertisers and charge more for the service. But some advertising
sales also market demographics. Some newspapers might sacrifice higher circulation numbers in favor of an
audience with a higher income. Some newspapers provide some or all of their content on the Internet,
Introduction to Mass Communication MCM 101
either at no cost or for a fee. In some cases free access is only available for a matter of days or weeks or
readers must register and provide personal data. In other cases, extensive free archives are provided.
Radio radical change in mass communication
As the world was enjoying the benefits of mass communication through print medium, scientists
had been working on some other miracle reaching out masses through voice. Though in the middle of
19th century it sounded as talking-high, towards the end of the century things had started shaping as the idea
might be materialized. It actually did at the brink of 20th century when Italian born Guglielmo Marconi
introduced to the world his marvel which today we all know as a radio the device which brings voice to
you from thousands of kilometers.
Marconi transmits signals by radio waves
An Irish-Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi is commonly credited for doing that in 1895. But,
whether he was actually the first to send signals through the air is open to debate. Other countries have
some impressive evidence that some of their citizens transmitted radio signals before Marconi. Even so, if
you asked the question on some quiz show, you'll be safest with the name "Guglielmo Marconi." Once he
proved that wireless transmissions (radio to you and me) could work, Marconi patented the invention in
England and set up the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company.
Brief Radio history
Once radio broadcasting was launched, people began to realize just how significant this new
medium could be. The first regular radio broadcast in the USA in 1920 brought presidential election returns
-- in advance of the newspapers. People quickly took note of all the free music, information, and
commentary that was suddenly available to anyone with a radio set.
But, something else was going on at the same time. Scores of people were building their own personal radio
stations, probably motivated in part by the ability to be widely heard by friends, neighbors, relatives, and
even strangers. That created a major problem. Soon there were too many stations for the number of
frequencies available to separate them on the radio dial.
Some thought the solution was simply to use more power to drown out the competition. So it got to be a
power battle too. But soon regulations were enacted by countries where radio stations were set up by people
on their own. Now the states issued license to the willing public to run a radio station.
Then another element entered the picture -- broadcast advertising. In 1922, a station in New York
ran a 10-minute talk on the merits of some co-op apartments in Jackson Heights, N.Y -- and charged $50
for their effort.
That was deemed a toll broadcast -- now better known as a commercial. At that point it was discovered that
you could actually make money by promoting products on radio -- and, of course, things have been the same
Other countries had their own ideas about this new medium. In Great Britain this led to the establishment
of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in 1923. The BBC used public taxes on radio receivers,
rather than commercials, to pay for their broadcast system.
Later, the CBC (Canadian Broadcast System) was developed in Canada, patterned after the BBC. The
problem in Canada was that a large percent of the population spoke French, which meant that
programming systems in both English and French had to be developed. Although most counties of that era
also adopted government sponsored radio broadcasting, the BBC and CBC are among the few that were
able to insulate programming content from direct government influence. In other words, most countries
used radio to further the political aims of those in power. Today, a great many still do.
With the advent of paid radio advertising in the United States, sponsors were rather insistent on
having their commercials heard. Since corporate money and profit were involved (which largely finance
Introduction to Mass Communication MCM 101
politics), the government suddenly started to get quite interested in doing something about the problem. So
the U.S. Congress passed the Radio Act of 1927, which created the Federal Radio Commission (FRC). Its
purpose was to organize the licensing of transmitters, including assigning radio station frequencies. In 1934,
the FRC was reorganized into the agency that now controls U.S. broadcasting, the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC). The FCC's regulatory powers expanded to include telephone and telegraph -- and
some years later, television.
Television miracle in modern mass communication
It was not much later that people heard radio as one top and fast means of communication, that
scientists brought a device in the middle which along the voice could support images and events unfolded in
front of the people as a real life occurrence.
Championed in 1927, the invention of TV took hardly ten years to assume a regular shape as one strong
source of mass communication. The 2nd World War towards the end of third decade of the last century,
however, halted progress on this most modern mean of communication, the end of war saw a rapid
advancement in telecommunication in which the transmission of the images ranked at the top. In most
countries the TV stations were set up, regulations enacted and sets were sold in high number by the end of
forth decade of the century. Next decade saw colored TV sets and transmissions and use of remote
controls. Pakistan had its first TV station in Lahore in November 1964.
The world had not yet fully exploited the TV as the strongest organ of mass communication that
unending research and developments in the field of science and technology brought computers internet,
so to say, for people who wanted to be beneficiaries of mass communication. Computers which were
introduced on limited scale in early 1960 for the purposes of communication and fast data processing
became in 1990s the major source of communication across the world.
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