Factors In Understanding The Media And Its Messages

1431 words - 6 pages

In a culture enthralled by the use of technology, it is important to note the ever-changing landscape of the media. Due to the pervasiveness of the media in today’s culture, it is vital to understand how media messages influences individuals. Media literacy is defined as the process of interacting with media content and critically analyzing it by considering its particular presentation, its underlying political or social messages, and the ownership and regulation issues that may affect what is presented and in what form (Pavlik 37). Media literacy is part of an ongoing process with no end goal in sight, so constant efforts to understand the media needs to be made. Consumers of media need to question the content they see and be critical of mediated communication as a whole. Although today’s complex media environment is overbearing, and striving to comprehend the factors allowing us to find meaning in media messages is essential. What factors allow consumers of media to understand media messages the way they do? By paying close attention to the history of media, the presentation of media, the political and social implications of messages, and being aware of regulation issues, society can take several steps forward to understanding the meaning of media messages and how to interact with media.
Examining the history of media is the first step to understanding how people understand how “the medium is the message.” This is a quote from a noted communication scholar by the name of Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan claims that reading printed words has altered the way that people think and perceive the world around them (Pavlik 72). The presentation of material is important, because it affects how people understand that form of media content. Now, the media of the past is viewed as primitive and ancient, but the same will be said in the future about the technologies used today (Pavlik 40). Before the digital age, print media was the main source of news and stories. Print media consists of books, newspapers, and magazines, which all serve different functions within society (Pavlik 73). For most individuals, books serve the primary purpose of education. Books can function as a source of entertainment, which allows people to escape from the unfortunate events in the physical world. However, books were not always envisioned as entertainment and non-fiction, but were seen as a sacred endeavor to capture human knowledge and ideals (Pavlik 74). Monastic scribes were copied by hand until the invention of the mechanical printing press in 1455. Johannes Guttenberg invented the device that made the mass production of books possible, most notably the “forty-two line” bible (Pavlik 76). The printing press is the most important invention of the past for print media, because it broadened the spectrum of knowledge for average individuals and it lead to the creation of new media outlets. “Textbooks of the 1800s often reflected the social mores of contemporary...

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