Different Types of Media
Television and Radio
Let’s start with television and radio. One aspect that distinguishes these from the other forms of media we’ll be talking about is that they are received passively. In other words, a 30-second advertisement on radio or television passes by at the same pace for all audience members, whereas a newspaper or other form of written media depend on the active participation of the audience. For instance, a TV show takes everyone the same amount of time to watch, while a novel could take a few hours or days depending on how often and how fast one reads.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons in terms of advertising using radio and television.
- Television and radio are immediate. The audience does not need to do any active work; they only need to listen or watch.
- They grab attention. Unlike print, the use of sound and visuals in radio and television can create memorable messages by the use of catchy jingles or earworms.
- They’re everywhere. Television and radio are all around us: at home, in the car, and out in public in restaurants and shops.
- Repetition. The same ads are often repeated on television and radio. This allows the message of the ad to really sink in.
- Words are optional. Ads can simply use music and imagery to get a message across unlike other forms of media.
- Time constraints. Advertisements usually need to force a lot of information into thirty seconds or less.
- Expensive. This form of communication is not available to a lot of people due to the costs involved.
- Ephemeral. A TV or radio ad runs, and then it disappears. Unlike print and digital media, the ad cannot be re-watched (unless, of course, you look it up on the internet).
After weighing these pros and cons, you start to get the sense that TV and radio are good mediums if you are trying to quickly advertise a product, but may not be the best medium for dense or lengthy material that requires a longer attention span. Material like this is more likely to be found in a newspaper.
Newspapers have been around since the 17th century, starting out as handwritten news sheets and eventually evolving into both print and online publications. Today, we’ll be focusing on the pros and cons of print newspapers.
- Widely circulated. Some newspapers have a wide circulation, and in aggregate, they can reach tens of millions of people every day.
- Detailed. Unlike many other forms of communication, news stories and articles in newspapers can be quite detailed.
- Cheap. Along with being widely circulated, newspapers are also relatively cheap. This gives access to a wider group of readers.
- Short lifespan. World events are always changing, so a printed news story can be outdated in just a matter of hours.
- Limited audience. Though many people read newspapers, there has been a transition toward online media. Younger people, for instance, may not be as prone to read print newspapers.
Current events are most effectively communicated in newspapers; however, op-eds (opinion pieces), advertisements, and classified ads are also effectively communicated.
As I mentioned, a lot of newspapers these days have made use of the internet to communicate their information. The internet provides an enormous selection of platforms that can be used to communicate effectively, including websites, blogs, and various forms of social media. For today, let’s focus on the pros and cons of one social media platform in particular: Twitter. If you’re unfamiliar, Twitter allows users to write posts and messages using a limited number of characters. Users can “follow” other users—friends, celebrities, politicians, and so on—and keep up with their Twitter feeds. Furthermore, users can share, like, and respond to the “tweets” of other users. Now let’s look at the pros and cons.
- Democratic. Anyone with access to the internet can use Twitter. Because everyone is given a chance to have their own voice, it is known as a democratic platform.
- Short and sweet. Due to the character limit, tweets are short and easily digestible. The audience does not need to invest much time in reading a tweet.
- Immediate. Once a tweet is posted, it is instantly accessible to other users. Any replies or comments made to other users’ tweets send an instant notification to those users, creating real-time connections and conversations.
- Short & shallow. While tweets can be “Short & Sweet,” the brief nature of tweets also creates the risk of shallow messages.
- Small fish, big pond. There are millions of Twitter users. Therefore, though it is in fact democratic, the effectiveness of any given user’s communication depends greatly on the number of followers. Celebrities and politicians can reach millions, while the average user may only reach a few people.
- Short-lived. The constant stream of tweets often means that posts and messages are quickly forgotten or buried beneath a barrage of other tweets and messages as time goes on.
Many messages can be effectively communicated via Twitter, but it ultimately depends on the person (or organization) doing the tweeting. A regular Joe can use Twitter to share jokes, memes, or opinions with a small group of friends. A politician can use Twitter to share political views or criticize opponents, potentially reaching millions. A police department can use Twitter to communicate crucial information with members of a local community.
Statistics show that over 500 million tweets are posted to Twitter on a daily basis, making it one of the most-used methods for sharing information. The most popular method, however, is texting, with an estimated 23 billion texts being sent every single day.
Texting is done almost exclusively via cell phone, though some would consider messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp as forms of texting. However, there are vast differences between messaging via phone and using apps, mostly related to the detail of the messages. Here, then, we will focus on the pros and cons of texting using a cell phone.
- Texting is instantaneous. The recipient of a text message is alerted immediately.
- Easily accessible. Anyone with a cell phone can communicate using text messages.
- Short & sweet. Texts are conventionally short. This is important because readers of texts are not expecting long messages, therefore they will not be offended if a message is brief (unlike an email, where a short message can come across as dismissive or aggressive).
- Easily misinterpreted. Due to their brevity, texts can often be misread as “angry” or “dismissive.”
- Lack of detail. If the text is vague and lacking in substance, the recipient of the text could be confused as to what the sender meant.
- Unprofessional. In some situations, texting is often considered unprofessional. For instance, texting a professor or an employer may be frowned upon.
Texting is most often used among friends and family for a number of reasons—to provide directions, to create plans, to check up on the recipient—just to name a few. Beyond this, organizations like schools, police departments, employers, and news stations can communicate crucial information to the public through mass texting.
When giving a presentation in a classroom or heading up a meeting at the office, creating a slideshow-style presentation is often the go-to choice for presenting information. There are many programs and software available to create these types of presentations, though the most notable is Microsoft PowerPoint. Let’s look at the pros and cons:
- Useful visual aid. PowerPoint presentations allow for complex ideas to be simplified with the use of visuals: graphs, pertinent images, and so on.
- Emphasis of key points. A speaker’s most important ideas can be emphasized, allowing the audience to know which portions of the presentation are most pertinent.
- Maintain audience’s attention. Using a PowerPoint presentation breaks up the monotony of listening to a speaker. No matter how engaging a speaker is, they may lose an audience’s attention if they speak for too long. Punctuating a speech with PowerPoint slides can reduce this loss of attention.
- Possible overreliance. When a presenter puts too much information in a PowerPoint slide, the audience may struggle to comprehend the information on the slide and not be listening to what the speaker is saying.
- Potentially distracting. Sometimes a slide contained in a PowerPoint presentation can distract from the speaker if it contains unnecessary visuals or too many visuals.
Most PowerPoint presentations, whether in a classroom or in a different context, aim to teach the audience something. As such, PowerPoint presentations most effectively communicate complex ideas and key points that the speaker wants the audience to remember.
When you hear the word poster, you might think of a movie poster hanging in a theater or a poster advertising a political campaign. Posters are used in public settings for the express purpose of providing information, sometimes with the aid of some eye-catching graphics or fonts. Here are the pros and cons:
- Draw attention. Posters are usually larger than a standard sheet of paper and, when done well, contain compelling imagery. Therefore, this increases the odds that a viewer will engage with the poster.
- Accessible to those in public. Unlike many other forms of communication, posters are situated in public locations. They are, therefore, a free way to communicate with any passersby.
- Easily ignored. Many people encounter posters in one form or another quite often, which leads to a dulling effect.
When using a poster to communicate, the placement of the poster matters. An informational poster about obtaining a new driver’s license would work best at the DMV. A poster containing information about the process of enrolling for courses at a university would work best in a location on campus where those interested in enrolling would be searching out information. Ultimately, the placement of a poster is just as important (if not more so) than its content.
So, as we’ve seen throughout this video, the effectiveness of a message is very often dependent on the form of media being used to communicate it. When using media to convey information effectively, it’s important to always think about the pros and cons of using that type of media so you can make sure it’s the right media for the job.
I hope this review was helpful! Thanks for watching, and happy studying!