Old Media

What do we mean by old media?

Traditional media or old media include print media such as books, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, scholarly journals, pamphlets, fliers, broadsides, billboards, etc.

Other traditional media are the electronic media such as radio, television, movies, CDs and DVDs, digital still photography, video recordings, audio recordings, interactive video games, etc.

Traditional media differ from the New Media of the Internet, which include such diverse technologies as blogs, wikis, machinima, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, podcasts, virtual worlds and web pages.

Since media are pervasive in our lives, you probably can think of more.

First, print media

magazines on a rack courtesy of http://shanegfowler.wordpress.com/
Image courtesy Fowler Computer

Let’s focus first on print media.

The term print media usually refers to the industry associated with the printing of news and information on paper or other hard copy base material and then the distribution of the printed matter.

Typically, the term points to books, newspapers and magazines, but can include also such media as newsletters, scholarly journals, pamphlets, brochures, fliers, broadsides, etc.


A book usually is a physical object used as a print medium. It is a written work printed on several pages that are bound together.

It’s a database storing information as a collection of written, printed, illustrated sheets of paper, parchment or other material fastened together to hinge at one side.

A leaf is a single sheet in a physical book. Each side of a leaf is a page.

Literature is the body of all written works including books.

A bibliophile is a lover of books and is sometimes called a bookworm.

A bookstore or bookshop is a place where books are bought and sold.

A library is a place where books are loaned to readers.

Ancient history

Books are considered the oldest mass medium.

When writing was invented in ancient times, anything that could be written upon was used — stone, clay, bark, metal, plants, skins.

Around 5,000 years ago, Egyptians wrote on papyrus, a plant grown along the Nile River. The Sumerians wrote on clay tablets in 2400–2200 BC.

Mass printing of modern books began just 560 years ago.

Today there are non-physical books published in electronic formats known as electronic books or e-books.


A newspaper is a regularly scheduled publication containing news, information and advertising. There are around 6,600 daily newspapers in the world including more than 1,400 in the U.S. They sell a total of 395 million copies a day including 55 million in the U.S.

For the most part, newspapers are funded by subscriptions and advertising. The worldwide recession that started in 2008 and with the rapid growth of Web alternatives have caused a decline in newspaper advertising and circulation. Some papers have cut back their operations or even closed down entirely.

Newspapers usually are circulated by delivery and by sales at local kiosks. Newspapers today also are available as non-print media on the Internet.

What’s in a newspaper? General-interest newspapers typically publish stories on political events, personalities, crime, business, entertainment, society and sports. Most papers also have an editorial page of opinions written by an editor or opinion writers. Other features include display and classified advertising, comics, puzzles and inserts from local merchants.

In fact, a wide variety of material has been published in newspapers, including news, weather, editorials, obituaries, entertainment features, crosswords, horoscopes, advice columns, food columns, movie reviews, play reviews, restaurant reviews, classified ads, display ads, cartoons and comic strips.


Magazines also are published on a regular schedule. Most contain information and advertising.

Magazines sometimes are referred to as periodicals, glossies or serials. Separately, an academic periodical featuring scholarly articles is usually called an academic journal. Such journals usually have no advertising.

For the most part, magazines also are funded by advertising and subscriptions as well as individual sales. Magazines are circulated by mail and local retail sales. Some magazines offer free subscriptions.

Magazines contain a variety of articles with a focus on specific interests. Magazines dedicated to reporting news often are called newsweeklies. Magazines also are available today as non-print media on the Internet.

Next, electronic media

The electronic media include radio, television, movies, CDs, DVDs, discs, digital still photography, video recordings, audio recordings, interactive video games, etc.

These traditional media differ from the New Media of the Internet, which might be thought of as electronic because we access them from our computers. However, they are new in the sense that the old medium of radio broadcasting has been around for 90 years and television has been popular for 60 years. The New Media of the 21st century include blogs, wikis, machinima, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, podcasts, virtual worlds and web pages.


Radio is a technology for transmitting information by electromagnetic waves, which travel through the air and the vacuum of space as oscillating fields. It is wire-less.

Information is attached to a radio wave by systematically changing, or modulating, the waves, in terms of their amplitude, frequency, phase, and pulse width. Radio waves that are received are transformed into sound and other information.

Radio broadcasting is a coherent sound, or audio, program service, sent from one place to another as radio waves. Stations that are linked form radio networks to broadcast common programming.

Audio programs also can be broadcast via wire, cable, satellite and the Internet.


Television is a technology for transmitting information via radio signals, which are received as moving images accompanied by sound. Those elements are referred to as video and audio. The medium has been referred to as radio with pictures. In fact, broadcast television was modeled on the existing radio broadcasting systems of the 1920s.

Commercially available since the late 1930s and popular from the late 1940s, television typically is a source of entertainment, education, information and news. Since the 1970s, television receivers also have been used to view pre-recorded programs via cassettes and discs.

Media-Related Professions

advertising PR target money
Image courtesy Search Engine Genie

The media of mass communication intend to reach a very large amount of people. That is, transmissions of messages from one to many.

They differ from interpersonal communication technologies, such as the telephone, which provide one-to-one communication.

I would include advertising and public relations in a list of mass-media-related professions. Both old and new media described here are media used by advertisers and public relations professionals to reach out to large groups of people.


Advertising is a profession that makes use of mass communication systems to persuade an audience — whether readers, listeners or viewers — to take some action on products, ideas or services. For instance, purchasing a product would be an action.

Advertising usually asserts the name of a product or service and tells potential consumers how that product or service could benefit them. Advertisers define a target market — a specific group of people — and attempt to persuade those people to purchase or to consume a particular product

Brand names

A brand name is the identity of a specific product, service or company. A brand might be a name, sign, symbol,color combination or slogan. A brand name can be protected legally by a trademark.

Advertising communicates an idea to convince people to take a certain action. For instance, advertising can be used to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior. On the other hand, it also can be used to encourage use of unhealthy products, such as over-consumption of high-calorie foods, or unhealthy couch-potato behaviors with a loss of exercise.

The rise of mass production at the end of the 19th century brought us modern advertising. Today, advertisers try to get mass audiences to consume more of products or services by convincing people of the good qualities of their products.

An advertising agency places persuasive messages in media on behalf of a for-profit company, non-profit organization or government body.

There are non-commercial advertisers that spend money to promote ideas. They include political parties, interest groups, religious organizations and governmental agencies.

More than US$150 billion are spent on advertising each year. Around the world, the total is nearly US$400 billion.

Public Relations

Public relations also is a profession that uses mass communication to persuade an audience — whether readers, listeners or viewers — to take some action on products, ideas or services.

Where advertisers pay to place their messages in media, public relations professionals use unpaid means to gain free placement in media.

Public relations, or simply PR, uses free media to build and maintain the public images of people, organizations, programs and products. Just about any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed to the public engages in some amount of public relations.

PR has been called, “the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest.”


PR professionals build relationships to establish rapport with publics. PR can be used to build rapport with employees, customers, investors, voters or the general public. It really, PR is the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics.

Publics can be internal and external stakeholders. They are target audiences among an organization’s customers and others in the external world, as well as its internal family.

PR professionals work to shape those messages that provide communication, community relations, crisis management, customer relations, product images, employee relations, government affairs, industry relations, financial profiles, investor relations, media relations, mediation, publicity, speech-writing, and visitor relations.

Public relations provides an individual or organization with exposure by using news items or other topics of public interest that provide a third-party endorsement.

Some common PR activities are speaking at conferences, working with the media, crisis communications, social media engagement, and employee communication.

Non-profit organizations, in particular, need to rely on free modes of persuasion, such as a broadcast public service announcement.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s