Mass media is an umbrella term referring to various technologies pertaining to the dissemination of information. It may be in a multitude of forms, some of the most common ones are of print - newspapers, magazines; television and film technology; the internet (which you are using right now to make an informed decision about career choice), blogs, websites, social and professional networking; publishing - in print and on the internet.
If mass media may be represented by one word, fully and completely, it would be – communication. It deals with communicating with a large number of people, a.k.a. Public. It is truer, in this information age than in any other, that information brings power.
Mass media is a very powerful industry, in that, it, subtly or otherwise, influences public perception by the very act of disseminating the information and the inference that may be projected. This means, portrayal of a certain inference of a recorded event, for example, helps shape public opinion about it and in a way, shapes reality for them. Evidently, a huge part of forming opinions about people, places and events is a direct effect of mass media.
In this sense, historically, the roots of media may be traced to the invention of the printing press. The vast information that was condensed in the form of a hand calligraphed book could now be made accessible to many. The spread of the printing press led to the emergence of another amazing innovation
in the 17th century, one that has endured the test of time to this day - Newspapers. Because newspaper were cheaper, its penetration was more than ever before. As the reach of newspapers increased, the need for more than just a one way flow of information arose. The term ‘media’ came in popular use at this juncture to describe the industry which collected and helped in the spread of information.
Along the century and the advent of newer
technologies, from radio, telegraph, television in black and white and in color, the computer, internet,
to the latest 'bunny from the hat' in the form of faster and smaller mobile devices, mass media has come a long way and in style too. The use of color, of animations, of audio-video and real time interaction has taken this industry to a whole new level.
The term mass media encompasses a mind boggling array of fields of expertise. Each among advertising, print media, television, public relations, online fora, investigative and reporting journalism is a mammoth industry in itself. Employment and involvement in these industries come at various levels. Significantly, it is a fusion of a creative outlook with the contemporary issues.
In India, primarily, formal education in this field is given through the degree of Bachelor in Mass Media (BMM). It is a three year course that is designed to develop many skills like comprehensive research, logical writing, and communication skills in addition to the thorough knowledge about the intricacies of various media branches. Students in this course learn about psychology, economics and sociology from the viewpoint of mass communication. Advertising, journalism and modern public relations are also a part of a highly practical syllabus.
Although a firm base, BMM is certainly not a prerequisite for a career in the media industry. There are a many other courses which are avenues into specific industry roles. From radio jockeys to television presenters or anchors, from audio engineers to animators, from print journalists to the second assistant director of a documentary movie, the range of careers in media is great. Commercial success in this field is only limited by creative imagination and communicating skills. A career in the media is fast paced and vibrant. It is a field where striving to bring out the best every time shows visible effects in the form of fame and money, and where success may be attained as a salaried employee, an entrepreneur or as a freelancer. Also, careers in the media give an opportunity to work with the cutting edge technologies and even to stretch their boundaries.
The sheer impact this industry makes on the opinions and actions of people makes it one of the most interesting and yet challenging career choices of our times.
A word of caution; the industry also inherently includes a high level of responsibility along with the power over ideas and opinions that it represents. Therefore, a high moral standard is more important to be a part of the media than Degrees and Diplomas. If you have made the choice to enter this realm, welcome to the Fourth Estate.