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The true meaning of media

We think of media as radio, television and the press. This is because the primary product of these industries are public information and communication broadcasting… namely what is considered as news stories of public interest.

They primarily provide a communications broadcasting and distribution service with an intangible product. However that is not the definition of media. Media is a category description of products that carry messages of communication.

Certain products are designed to deliver messages of communication. It can be one-way or two-way communication, through spoken and written language, or cognitive perception. It can be visual, audio, or both—audiovisual. These products classed as media might surprise you. They include books, magazines, newspapers, maps, paintings, drawings, photographs and all manner of printed material. They include audio and video recordings inclusive of the technology they are stored on.

You should now be thinking media is more than radio, television and the press. Books, photographs, CDs, DVDs, electronic memory cards, maps, drawings and even paintings are considered as media. Media is a product type classification. Quite often artists of paintings paint for pleasure, not to communicate any message. However audiences might cognitively perceive a message from the picture, so consider it as a media class product—it delivered a message, or communicated something to them.

When we talk about digital media, we talk about all the products that carry and deliver messages over the digital platform, which itself makes use of computer devices and the Internet. We all know what a picture is, but in the digital media sphere, pictures are classified as either graphic or photographic. Photographers specialise in capturing photographic images, so they work with media, while graphic designers specialise in creating graphic art, so they too work with media. Often both photographers and graphic designers create composite images by mixing the two artistically to portray and attempt to deliver a visual message or story. These visual messages basically rely on audience cognitive perceptions. However the use of text in an image can make the message much more obvious. Of course in the world of news and marketing, images are often used to grab attention, so may not play a real role in the actual message being delivered.

So when an enterprise or organisation says they produce media, they are more likely to produce books, brochures, photographs, photo books, CDs, DVDs, digital video or audio recordings and digital graphics documents than gather news stories for mass communication through the press, radio, or TV broadcasting.

The media production industry is so much bigger when you grasp what it truly entails. The digital platform that supports many other platforms including the web and its social media and collaborative platforms, email, messaging, Skype and all manor of Apps are nothing without content. Content is media… products that make a conduit for delivery of messages in communication are all part of media product classification.

So when you think “Media”, think wider than just radio, TV and the press.

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