Key Definitions and Audience Engagement

So what are, or is, ‘the media’? ‘Media’ is the plural of the word ‘medium’, hence, technically, we should say ‘media are’ not ‘media is’. However the term ‘the media’ is often used in a singular sense, to mean the industry which makes media, such as television and radio å‰_ø though, as we shall see, identifying one coherent ‘media industry’ is becoming increasingly complex. Hence, some might argue, that the idea of ‘the media’ might now be a little outdated?

A good starting point might be to get students to consider what are media and what is ‘the media’?

The word ‘medium’ means a mid-way point or a form of carrying communication. It is a link between things å_ such as we may talk about ‘the medium of language’, which is a form of communication or the mid-way point of contact between two human beings. Or a spiritualist is often described as a medium, e.g a point of contact between the living and the dead.

So media is the mid-way point, or link, between those who send a message and those who receive it.

Traditionally, the term ‘the media’ was used most notably to refer to the printed press (such as newspapers and magazines) and electronic forms of mass media such as radio and television. But is this still the case? For example, can we consider Facebook as media, and is it part of the media (i.e. the media industry)?

  • Next, students could be asked to start by sketching out a rough timeline of their day. When do they get up? Get the bus? What do they do during lessons? In the evening? At the weekend? Then ask them to go back and add annotation to indicate when, during these times, they have contact with forms of media. Perhaps they are woken by the alarm on their mobile phone, listen to music as they are eating breakfast, use the Internet to search for information during lessons, make notes from textbooks during study periods - you get the idea.

The aim of this exercise is to get students to the point of appreciating just how much engagement they have with various forms of media each day. By way of an elaboration on this exercise, they could consider which interactions are one-way and which are two-way? Teachers may wish to try and quantify the time spent as a class exercise (making an early link with research methods).

An overview of ‘defining the mass media’ can then be shared (example here:

Discover More Course materials directly related to the A-level syllabus

- click on the first pdf in the list and for teachers who feel they need a little more background reading, useful information can be found here:

Discover More What is new media

Using this material, students could create a simple glossary of key terms covered in the topic so far.

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