What comes easily to mind when we hear "print media" are newspapers and magazines. And a Google search would yield that answer (though it would also include other reading materials) as well as other definitions:
What these definitions have in common are the concepts involving:
These common print media formats are categorized according to their binding, regularity, content, and timeliness (see table below). These primary formats are classified as print media because of the technological basis common for all formats – the printing press which dates back to the 1440s. Print media is also considered the most tangible of all communication media and the most permanent in form because of this technological commonality -- text printed on paper.
Media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, posits that print media is a cool media because it demands active involvement – intellectual or mental – from its readers. Like other mass media, print media functions as a vehicle for surveillance among its readers – providing them news and information. However, the readers' acceptance of the information they read depends on the credibility of the print media producer. On the other hand, print media also shapes readers' perception by conferring status on certain issues and personalities through its continued coverage.
Print media also functions as a:
Print media dates back to the development of writing around 3500 C.E. It evolved because of the need to record data – economic, social, political, spiritual, personal. Its technological development was determined by the need for more durable, portable, reproducible, and economical materials and processes.
Before the invention of the printing press, print media created a social divide – access to writing translated into power. As such, print media contributed to the growth of empires as record keeping and data organization became a tool for monarchs to consolidate power.
Print media also changed how knowledge was produced and consumed. The sacred spoken word soon lost its "mystery" as the written/printed Bible gained prominence. As such, importance was invested in the permanent written text rather than the ephemeral utterance. As more books were produced, there also arose the need to collect in libraries the knowledge contained in books.
Print media as institutionalized in these libraries (these "physical" bodies of knowledge) soon established enduring codes and systems of belief – legal, religious, etc. It also contributed to the growth of the information and education industries.
With the development of the printing press, particularly the production of texts in the vernacular, access to reading materials democratized literacy and soon promoted a sense of nationalism.
Printing also ushered upheavals in religious, political, and scientific knowledge systems. It also inaugurated the newspaper industry and the concept of a free press, as well as marking the beginning of mass communication.
With the high cost involved in the mass production of print media materials, publishers made sure they would get returns on their investment. Printing ventures derive its income from either direct selling or from advertising revenue. Recently, the selling of film rights has become another revenue source.
Direct selling usually means circulation or subscription sales, which depends on a print media's reach. Sales through booksellers is another direct selling revenue source. Advertising revenue comes from selling print media space.
Other revenue sources include:
With the need for returns on investment, economics influenced print media content – subjects that appealed to a wider market saw more print space. This economic imperative governs both print media companies that rely on advertising revenue and even those that have independent funding. The economic imperative can also render print media companies under the “control” of advertisers and the market – the readers. Advertisers and print media audiences can also "dictate" how media content is put together, especially because print media space had to translate into revenue – and what better way for the page to earn but to cater to market demands.
With the recent demassification of media – targeting a narrower market – advertising revenue decreased, especially because some companies diverted their advertising budget from mainstream publications to other less popular but more targeted print media.
Media conglomeration has also affected the management of print media management, with profit rather than content as the bottom line. Media ownership collaboration allows for the printing of media content across competing broadcast distribution companies. This conglomeration, however, also lead to self-serving coverage and/or treatment of content prejudicial to collaborating companies. It also lead to low quality content because of vertical integration and cost cutting to maximize profits. And to ensure profits, the homogenization of profitable content becomes the trend and the drawback of profit-driven media conglomeration.
On the other hand, media conglomeration also provides capital outlays on quality projects. An integrated marketing network is another advantage that media conglomerates bring into print media production and promotion. Moreover, the transnational ownership and media globalization are seen positively as facilitating the sharing and flow of information across borders. But transnational conglomerates are also negatively perceived as wielding influence in host countries, at least in displacing local counterparts.
The effects of media on audiences is one major issue involving print media (as mass media). Print media exerts a great influence on audience behavior and attitudes -- it serves as a socialization tool in terms of providing the main source of information, and not just of news.
Studies on the effects of print media reveal that it shapes attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs especially when:
Media theories, like Cultivation Analysis, tries to explain how media (particularly TV) affects audience behavior and attitudes. Another theory, Agenda Setting, also tries to explain how media influences what (agenda building) audiences should think about and how (agenda framing) audiences should think about a topic. In relation to the depiction of violence in media, the Catharsis Theory attempts to explain how media content purges aggressive behavior among its audiences. On the other hand, Stimulation Theory provides a contrary explanation by showing how violent representations in media stimulate individuals to act out their aggression. But media theories also tackle the positive effects of media. It looks at how media can also promote prosocial behavior.
Technological advances in media point to emerging issues, including:
How readers will consume print media will be determined by these forces that influence its production. ✍
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