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Types of Media

Media convey information, spread messages and ideas, and connect individuals and social groups.

Media refers to all forms of communication that have the purpose of conveying a message. Media is the plural form of the word medium, meaning a channel or mode of communication. It is, however, common for people to think of the media as a singular concept. For example, people might worry that the media is too powerful or that the media is not reliable. This use of the word media typically refers to mass media platforms.

Multiple forms of media exist, including print media and audio-visual media. Personal media facilitate person-to-person communication. They include telephones, e-mail, and video chat platforms. Mass media are platforms of information that reach masses of people, such as television, radio, film, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Different forms of mass media are called outlets, platforms, or channels.

Forms of mass media include:

  • written media, such as books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and billboards
  • visual media, such as film, video, and photography
  • electronic media, such as radio, television, Internet, and telephones

Electronic media play a dominant role in both personal and mass communication. Computer technology allows individuals and businesses, including media companies, to spread information and messages via e-mail, texting, websites, podcasts, blogs, and vlogs. Media facilitate and shape social relationships, work, education, and advertising. Social media are forms of electronic media designed to connect individuals, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Mainstream media include widely known media outlets that promote popular cultural messages. Cross-media refers to the distribution of the same message across different media channels.