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Case Study: Media Content Vs. Media Form

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Case Study:

Media Content or Media Form?

Media effects refer to "the social, cultural, and psychological impact of communicating via the mass media (Eveland, W. 2003). The public and government officials think from the perspective of media effects when expressing concern over media violence, pornography, and advertising. Media effects can be identified using five central characteristics 1) a focus on the audience 2) some expectation of influence 3) a belief that the influence is due to either the form or content of a "media message system" 4) the use of variable terminology and discussion of causality; 5) the creation of empirically testable hypotheses (2003). A key point is made in these five steps; the mention of content and form as two separate entities.

What is content and form?

Media content is messages that are produced by the few for the many and delivered to large audiences simultaneously. (Online Glossary). How messages are brought to an audience is the form or the medium is any singular, physical object used to communicate messages. Television is a mass medium, but there are many other kinds of mass media (Online).

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan argued that "the medium is the message." Media technology can have a profound affect on different societies and cultures (Thussu, D. 2000). Throughout history, technology has affected how we communicated, but perhaps the technology was sending a message all its own. Television has often been called the most powerful media medium ever invented, sending hundreds of thousands advertisements, entertainment programs, and news broadcasts in to living rooms across the globe. A new rival is the Internet, it is changing how we view communication in every sense of the word. The number of people with access to the internet is growing at an alarming rate (Fig. 1). Internet is borderless and easily accessible; filling our heads with hundreds of images per minute.

Media technology advancements send messages of being connected and a part of something to society. The telegraph was replaced by the radio, where you could hear human voices connecting the listener to the message being transmitted. Radio was replaced with television, where audience could now visualize the images. Television is being replaced by the fast paced Internet; where you can instantly communicate with others, sending messages, images and audio. The computer and internet allow us to communicate one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many, communicating instantly by chat room or instant messaging or by video images; or you can send electronic mail which works on a store and forward method (Boudouride, 1995). The computer is quickly being replaced with lap tops, palm pilots and cellular phones with internet and entertainment capabilities. The opportunities to communicate - with friends, family, business associates, make new friends and even find a date - across the globe are endless.

Who's doing what?

Media content plays a valuable role in today's society. News media is more important than ever with wars and natural disasters in countries around the world. The entertainment industry is changing the way the world views fashion and other popular trends. Advertising is at an all time high and growing (World Stats) (Fig. 2). The need to communicate across borders is a growing necessity for business, politics, human rights organizations, and trade (Thussu). Media content is, indeed, important to our society, but without the medium, we wouldn't have the content.

The Top Ten Advertisers in Internet

according to Nielsen NetRatings

# Advertiser * Impressions

May 2005

1 InterActiveCorp

3,120,962,000

2 Vonage Holdings Corp

2,916,792,000

3 LowerMyBills.com, Inc.

2,170,360,000

4 Dell Computer Corporation

2,111,319,000

5 Verizon Communications, Inc.

2,046,221,000

6 Netflix, Inc.

1,914,033,000

7 SBC Communications, Inc.

1,762,111,000

8 Monster Worldwide, Inc.

1,545,699,000

9 Apollo Group, Inc.

1,468,174,000

10 Scottrade, Inc.

1,463,286,000

FIG 2., excluding house ads which are ads that run on an advertiser's own web property,

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