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Mass Media Worksheet

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What were the major developments in the evolution of mass media during the 20th century? There were a few major developments in the evolution of mass media during the 20th century. One of those developments was radio. Radios were the first major nonprint forms of mass media. Radios reached a huge number of people, they were less expensive then telephones, and they were extremely popular. In 1946, televisions were introduced as a new form of mass media. There were approximately 17,000 televisions at this time. Within 7 years, two-thirds of American households had a television. Television had become the dominant form of mass media. There were three major networks that controlled 90 percent of the news programs, live events, and sitcoms that Americans viewed. The broadcast technology, radio and television, forced newspapers and other forms of print media to adapt to new media landscape.

Print media was more durable and was easily archived. Print media also gave people more flexibility in terms of use. For example, they had more time with a magazine because a person could read it wherever and whenever they wanted. Broadcast media was aired on a specific fixed schedule. This allowed broadcast media to provide a sense of immediacy and fleetingness. In the 1980s and the 1990s, the media world went through drastic changed again. This drastic change was the introduction of cable television. Cable providers gave people a wide menu of channels that they could choose from. Some of these channels included were specifically tailored for things like golf, classic films, or sermons. Until the mid-1990s, television was still dominated by the three large networks.

How did each development influence American culture? All of the developments in the evolution of mass media had some sort of influence on the American culture. The reach of radio meant that the medium was able to downplay regional differences. Radio also encouraged a unified sense of the American lifestyle. The American lifestyle was increasingly driven and defined by consumer purchases. Americans in the 1920s were the first to wear ready-made, exact-sized clothing. Americans in the 1920s were also the first people to play electric phonographs, use electric vacuum cleaners, to listen to commercial radio broadcasts, and to drink fresh orange juice year round. Not only did this consumerism boom put its stamp on the 1920s, it also contributed to The Great Depression in the 1930s.

In the 1950s and 1960s, The American home became firmly ensconced as a consumer unit with a television, a car, and a house. All of these things contributed to the nations thriving consumer based economy. Some social critics thought that television was foster a homogenous, conformist culture by reinforcing the idea of what “normal” American life looked like. Television also contributed to the counterculture in the 1960s. The Vietnam War was the first televised military conflict. There were nightly images of war footage and war protestors helped intensify the nations internal conflicts. in the 1980 and the 1990s cable television began to spread. At this time the three major networks still controlled 93 percent of all television viewing. By 2004, those three major networks only control 28.4 percent of total viewing. The spread of cable television has given people a huge menu of channels that they can choose from.

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