Understanding Mass Media and Its Characteristics as a Means of Communication

Meaning of Mass Media – We must have a little contact with mass media in carrying out our daily life activities. We consume various types of information, whether from the internet, magazines, or television, especially in this all-digital era that makes everyone able to easily get new information.

Basically, the process of delivering a message to a wide audience is called mass communication, while the tool or media used is mass media. Well, this article will discuss the meaning, characteristics, and functions of mass media.

Meaning of Mass Media

According to the Communication Lexicon , mass media are “means to deliver messages that are directly related to the wider community, for example radio, television, and newspapers”. According to Cangara in his book entitled Introduction to Communication Science , media is a tool or means used to deliver messages from the communicator to the audience, while the meaning of mass media itself is a tool used in delivering messages from the source to the audience by using communication tools, such as letters news, film, radio and television (Cangara, 2010: 123–126).

Media is the plural form of medium, which means “middle” or “intermediate”, while mass comes from the English language, namely mass which means “group” or “group”. Thus, the meaning of mass media is an intermediary or tools used by the masses in establishing relationships with each other.

1. Law No. 40 of 1999 about Pars

Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press mentions that the press is a social institution and mass communication vehicle that carries out journalistic activities, which includes searching, acquiring, owning, storing, processing, and conveying information, both in the form of writing, voice, image, voice and image, and data and graphics as well as in other forms by using print media, electronic media, and all types of available channels.

2. Eep Saefulloh Fatah

Fatah stated that the press is the fourth estate of democracy (the fourth pillar of democracy) and has an important role in building trust, credibility, and even the legitimacy of the government. The press that is meant as the fourth pillar of democracy is the press that has a function, namely as a tool of social control in democratic life.

The control function makes the function of the press in society stronger. The press is expected to be able to cover both sides (seeing the news from two sides) which must be maintained because the press is a tool of social control for the government, so that the press becomes a medium for conveying the aspirations of the people towards the government.

The press must also have a gate keeper function , that is to filter every report. It is hoped that the function of the press can provide good education for the community, as well as be a good bridge between the government and the community.

3. Oemar Seno Adji

Oemar mentions the press in a narrow sense, which is the broadcasting of thoughts, ideas, or news with the written word, while the press in a broad sense, which includes all mass communications (mass media) that emit someone’s thoughts and feelings, both with words – written and oral words.

4. Onong Uchjana Effendy

According to Effendy (2003: 65) in the Theory and Philosophy of Communication , mass media is used in communication
if the communication is numerous and resides far away. The mass media that are widely used in everyday life are generally newspapers, radio, television, and movie theaters, which operate in the fields of information, education and recreation, or in other words information, education, and entertainment.

Thus, mass media is a tool to do or disseminate information to a wide, numerous, and heterogeneous communicator. Mass media is a very effective tool in mass communication because it can change attitudes, opinions, and communication behavior. The advantage of communication using mass media is that mass media creates synchronicity, that is, a message can be received by a relatively large number of communicators.

Characteristics of Mass Media

Mass media is a means of mass communication. The process of delivering messages, ideas, or mass media information to the public is done simultaneously. A media can be called mass media if it has certain characteristics. Characteristics of mass media according to Cangara (2010: 126–127) include:

  • Being institutional, it means that the party that manages the media consists of many people, starting from the collection, management, to the presentation of information.
  • Being one-way, it means that the communication is less likely to allow dialogue between the sender and receiver. Even if there is a reaction or feedback, it usually takes time and is delayed.
  • Extensive and simultaneous, meaning that it can overcome the obstacles of time and distance because it has speed. Moving widely and simultaneously, that is, the information delivered is received by many people at the same time.
  • Being open, means that the message can be received by anyone and anywhere regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity.
  • Using technical or mechanical equipment, such as radio, television, newspapers, and the like.
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According to Cangara (2010: 76) in his book Introduction to Communication Science , mass communication is one of the types of communication that has a significant difference from other forms of communication. The nature of his message is open to a varied audience, both in terms of age, religion, tribe, occupation, and in terms of needs.

Mass communication has a number of special features or characteristics, among which are the following.

1. Institutional Communicator

Mass media communicators move in complex, but institutionalized organizations. Board of mass communication message delivery through mass media, such as television, newspaper, radio, internet.

2. Messages of a General Nature

The messages conveyed in the process of mass communication by the communicator are aimed at a wide audience or all people, not just a group of people. Thus, the process of mass communication is open. This is because communicants are spread in various places. The news message also contains factual elements that are important and interesting for all circles of society, not just a group of people.

3. Communication is Anonymous and Heterogeneous

The communicator or recipient of information in mass communication is anonymous and heterogeneous. This is because mass communication conveys a general message to all communities who do not know each other without distinguishing tribes, races, religions, and have various psychological characters, ages, genders, places of residence, cultural customs, and different social strata. -different.

4. Simultaneous Mass Media

According to Effendy (2003: 53), the simultaneity of mass media is the simultaneity of contact with a large number of people in a distance from the communicator and the people are separated from each other.

5. One-way Delivered Messages

Communication between the communicator and the communicant occurs directly, but the communicator and the communicant do not meet each other and the communicant cannot respond directly. The communicator here handles the communication.

6. Delayed Feedback

This happens because between the communicator and the communicant who are not face to face directly. The communicator cannot immediately know the audience’s reaction to the message he has delivered.

Functions of Mass Media

1. Elvinaro Ardianto

According to Elvinaro (2007: 14–17) in Mass Communication An Introduction , the functions of mass media can be divided into five, namely:

a. Surveillance _

As a tool to help the public to get warnings from the mass media that inform about threats.

b. Interpretation (Interpretation)

The interpretive function is almost similar to the supervisory function. Mass media not only supply facts and data, but also provide interpretations or temporary responses to important events. The media organization or industry chooses and decides which events are published or shown.

c. Linkage _

Mass media can unite diverse members of society, thus forming linkages based on common interests and interests about something.

d. Transmission of Values

The mass media represents the image of society, that is, it is watched, heard, and read. The mass media show us how they act and what they expect. In other words, the media represents us with role models that we observe and hope to emulate.

e. Entertainment _

The function of the mass media as an entertainment function is none other than to reduce the tension in the minds of the audience.

2. Onong Uchjana Effendy

Effendy (2003: 54) presents the function of mass communication in general, namely:

a. Information function

The function of providing information means that the mass media is a disseminator of information for readers, listeners or viewers.

c. Educational Functions

The mass media is a means of education for the public because it presents a lot of things that are educational in nature. One of the ways of educating that the mass media does is through teaching values, ethics, and rules that apply to viewers or readers.

d. Influencing Functions

The influencing function of the mass media is implicitly found in titles, features, advertisements, articles, and so on.

Types of Mass Media

According to Cangara (2010: 74), mass media are divided into three types, namely:

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1. Print Media

Print media is the first mass media that appeared in the world in the 1920s. At that time, the mass media was initially used by the government to indoctrinate the public, so as to lead the reading public to a specific purpose, such as the needle theory in mass communication theory. However, the mass media is now free, as is the reciprocity of the audience.

b. Electronic media

After print media, the first electronic media appeared, namely radio as an audio media that conveys messages through voice. Speed ​​and timeliness in radio message delivery is certainly faster by using live broadcasts. During the dissemination of information about the Proclamation of Independence, the radio mass media played a major role in the dissemination of news. After that, a more sophisticated television appeared and could show pictures as audio visual mass media.

c. Internet media

New internet media is popular in the 21st century, for example Google was born in 1997. Internet media can exceed the capabilities of print and electronic media. Both media can enter the internet through a website. There are many advantages of internet mass media compared to other media. However, internet access which is still relatively free can be dangerous for users who do not understand, for example fraud, pornography, identity theft, and so on. Internet media does not have to be managed by a company like print and electronic media, but can also be done by individuals.

Distortion of Mass Media Freedom

Distortion of the freedom of the mass media in carrying out its functions include:

1. Through Mass Media Regulation

According to Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution and Law No. 11 of 1996 about the Press, the government has actually guaranteed the freedom of the press. The article provides a guarantee that there is no censorship and no prohibition for every citizen who wants to establish a press company. This is an important indicator of freedom of the press. For example, one of the TV stations reported on the Antasari case involving a woman named Rani. The reporting of the case only uses secondary sources, namely Rani’s family and Rani’s neighbors, not from primary sources.

The violated article is article 3 which reads “Indonesian journalists always test information, report in a balanced manner, do not mix facts and judgmental opinions, and apply the principle of presumption of innocence”.

2. Bureaucracy or Apparatus of Power

In addition to the distortion of legal regulations, the control of press freedom by the government can also occur through the behavior of officials. During the time of the New Order (Orba), there were various behaviors of the apparatus that tried to control the freedom of the press, among others it was done by sending reprimands to the editors, physically assaulting journalists, up to the killing of journalists.

For example, a member of the District House of Representatives (DPRD) of Cirebon City, Udin Saefullah, ran amok in the building of the people’s representative who did not accept after appearing in the local mass media, who said that he did not resign, even though he had registered as one of the prospective legislative candidates from Hanura party. He also threatened to beat journalists if he continued to raise his position as a member of the DPRD.

3. Act of Judging the Community to the Media

Freedom of the press guaranteed by UU No. 40 of 1999 was apparently used irresponsibly by some mass media. The freedom is used to unleash sensationalism. A number of individuals or community groups felt harmed by the news. They punish the press by going to the media office and then threatening and terrorizing, persecuting journalists, and vandalizing the media office.

For example, the polling results reported by TVOne station and other TV stations experienced differences in polling results when the presidential election took place last year in 2014. This is what makes the community experience confusion in the quick calculation. In the end, a number of people protested against the TVOne station by criticizing it.

4. Behavior of the Press Itself

In practice, it turns out that not only factors outside the press have the potential to control press violence, such as legislation, the actions of the apparatus, and the control of press freedom turns out to be sourced from the press company itself. The media tends to present the entertainment side rather than providing information, political news tends to be presented that examines the personality of politicians rather than their thoughts and performance, and the news that is presented tends to be poor in meaning and make the reader cynical about the reality of everyday life.

For example, the electronic media MNCTV always presents the advantages of the owner of the media, namely Harry Tanoesodibjo. This was done by the media because the owner wanted to nominate the president in the next election period. However, Harry Tanoesodibjo’s good image in the community was slightly tarnished after the revelation of the Antasari case that dragged his name. It can be ascertained that the media lacks professionalism when it comes to broadcasting advertisements and always favors its own owner or is not neutral.