Media are basically the communication tools or means used to send and retrieve data or information. The word implies the mass media channels of communication, which include the print media, broadcast media, television, radio, and cinema. In its broader sense, the term can also include information technology, such as the internet and World Wide Web, and interactive services, such as e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, text messaging, and video services. The term is usually used in association with advertising. Advertisers use the media to get their messages out to the largest number of people possible.
Think critically about the way you absorb media. When you get news from sources you think of as “mainstream,” isn’t that just a preference? Aren’t all of those sources somehow “mainstream” simply because they are the dominant media? Isn’t it a matter of personal choice and social conditioning? Isn’t this just another form of self-selecting and independent thought?
Certainly there are a lot of “mainstream” publications, but I’d also argue that the majority of the “coastal” media is not truly “mainstream” in the traditional sense of the term. Why? Because newspapers and magazines have for decades catered almost exclusively to a very narrow demographic of readership. The result has been a very limited number of news items and a much larger number of opinions that are expressed.
On the other hand, a relatively recent development is the proliferation of different types of “web media.” Nowadays, newspapers, magazines, and even web sites are focusing not only on a very specific audience but on a broad array of different types of audiences. For example, many newspapers publish magazine content that is aimed at a very specific niche of readership. Many magazines have online news sections in which different types of readers from different cultures and backgrounds can get different perspectives on the events and issues that interest them.
In fact, it’s not even necessary to call the print media as such! When referring to the print media the term may actually be used in a less pejorative sense. For example, when discussing television news, we usually think of the various networks and cable channels that provide live coverage of local newscasts. However, it should be noted that there are now numerous on-air news anchors who are paid to talk to viewers live on the air.
Some might say that one form of media is better than another. This may very well be true. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Nevertheless, I would submit to you that the vast majority of the “print media” that is enjoyed in this country today is much better than the “televison media” that was dominant just a short time ago. In my view, this is largely due to the fact that the former is now experiencing much more competition due to the explosive growth of a number of new digital cable channels and satellite radio stations, all of which tend to provide their users with more options and choices than the older model television and radio combined versions ever provided.