Mass communication: Then and now

Lunminthang Haokip *

Mass Media: Mass Media is the general term by which we know the diversified media technologies through which news and views are collected and communicated to reach a large number of people residing near and far. Movies, radio, recorded music and television come under broadcast media.

Internet, discovered of late, has under its umbrella, the instant means of communication like email, social media sites, websites etc, has already captured the imagination of users worldwide. The oldest means of transmitting information was the Print media. Physical objects like books, comics, magazines, newspapers and pamphlets are used to facilitate pushing info under print media.

The marvel called print media: In centuries down the ages, man's creative urges were recorded in hand-written forms. The printed word paved the way for the modern media to thrive. Life on this planet would not have been the same, as it surges today, had not the happenings of the distant past, were not shared and relayed for the benefit of the forthcoming humanity whopopulated the centuries to come. Shared writings recorded in the forms of books, newspapers and magazines come handy to whet our appetite to learn about the periods of history gone by; and would have got lost, otherwise.

Paper and printing: Before no one else could do it, a Chinese official named Ts'aiLun, in A.D. 105, invented paper, without which no future printing would have taken place. Forty years later, another Chinese man called Pi Sheng, invented the first movable type. It would literally take hundreds of years later, in 1276, for printing to reach Europe in the form of paper mill in Italy, another two hundred years until Johannes Gutenberg refined a method to efficiently print books and pamphlets on his Gutenberg press (ref: 2011/03/15)."

'Pressing' Forward: "Nicolas Jenson, the aforementioned 'edublog' wrote, "invented a 'Roman typeface for publication around 1470, which had copied the hand-written books of the time. The Industrial Revolution would usher in a new era for typeand publication, particularly with Lord Stanhope's discovery of the first all cast-iron printing press, doubting the usable paper size and drastically reducing the use of manual labour."

Chronicling arrival of media tools: The advent of the printing press facilitated, among others, the printing of the first "Gutenberg Bible edition in Latin in the 1450s in the present Germany." The printing of the most read and popular King James Bible in English began in 1604 and was covered in 1611.

Recording gadgets like gramophone records, magnetic tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CDs, and DVDs, arrived in the 19th century. Cinema and radio followed suit to make history in 1900 and 1910. Television debutedin 1950 while Internet first netted thrilled users in 1990 and the world began to carry mobile phones from year 2000.

In all these discoveries and inventions, which resulted in the universal spread of information (from continent to continent), knowledge and speed of communication, it was God the Almighty who put wisdom and know-how in individual minds. "Canst Thou send lightning, that they may go, and say unto Thee, Here we are (Job 38:35)?"

Print media of yore in the hill areas: In the hill areas of Manipur State, before the arrival of Computers and the printing press, notifications for important meetings and social circulars were typed out on a rusted type-writer on cyclostyle duplicating sheets which were stencil-copied later on plain paper.

The problem with this manual process was that correcting mistakes in typing, which was bound to occur, was an ordeal in itself. The correcting fluid, even if applied, left an indelible ugly blot when duplicated. Yet, the poor man's 'copier' somehow could manage to disseminate information in a limited area. Local journals and newspapers, in the black and white days, were published under the clumsy cyclostyling process. The odd satisfaction of the 'mini editors,' however, were nothing lesser than that of a present day famed editor.

Mass media in rural Manipur: In the 1960s, when I was a primary school boy, Film division of Publicity Department would, once in a while, exhibit black & white Tarzan or Dara Singh movies in the village open ground,post-dusk. We country kids felt very excited to the first eye-contact with the larger than life cinematic images that left a lasting impact of imageries in the mind.

During school class breaks, we spun yarns about the strength of Tarzan as we saw in the talkie movies. The medium of cinema served as an educational supplement to unexposed folks of remote settlements. Audio-visual documentaries on agricultural knowledge, family planning, health care and patriotism etc. were taken seriously by the far-flung interior residents of my area and helped the viewers in evolving themselves out of the belittling set-backs of life of neglect and backwardness

The magic of radio: An ex-serviceman or an Army Jawan-on-leave of 'kishan' origin never failed to bring along a brand-new "Phillips Radio" home in the backblocks. A ready post-dinner audience looked up to the Jawan-on-holiday as the men in uniform, with an up-market brand of cigarette pack in hand, try to impress the home-cocooned simpletons with a trifle 'exaggerated' tales of their war-front ventures or overtures on peer camaraderie in the barrackswhere the enthused'narrator' had to be the 'hero' in every action scene.

Besides, old or latest Bollywood songs aired on AIR and other Radio stations, before the advent of TV, moved the far-flung listeners to 'waves of emotion of romanticism'. The 1897 Marconi-discovered audio-marvel also served the country inhabitants everywhere to get updated News about weather, bundhs, political changes, VIP visits, official notifications etc.

The mania for digital media: Computers have made handling every profession easy. Under its fold unfolds all computer-supported media like "computer programmes and software, digital imagery, digital video, video games, web pages and websites, social media; data and databases, digital audio like mp3; and e-books.

The youth of today catch up with the glut of new wonders like a duck takes to water while most of the oldies, like the rose which can't shut and become a bud again, struggle hard to be on par. Social medium like Facebook engages and absorbs the young brigade so much that a student had to helplessly crib, "I am hooked on Facebook so much that I don't want to face my book!" Whatsapp is another convenient tool for texting and photo-exchange that took the new world by storm.

Electrifying electronic media: The new presentation style of News channels and views anchoring in India leave no space for an individual to feel badly bored. Heated debates on the TV screen keep the viewer glued to the fabled verbal duels that hot up the tube-show takes on burning issues.

With the entry of oratorical phenomenon like Arnab Goswami in the News anchoring scene, innovative words like, dissent, disruption and 'distancing from the Establishment' become familiar cliches. The milder,yet subtle, anchors like Rajdeep Sardesai, Anand and Barkha Dutt have created an unique niche for themselves on the small screen. In no period in history, trans-border News broadcasting and dissecting had been so fiery, savvy, and noisy.But the viewers kind of get used to the high-decibel bombarding of ambivalent 'fire' that compel them to feel petulant, jittery and oddly happy.

Youtube amazes no end: The storehouse of A to Z information, Youtube, I feel is the best tube of a boon gifted by technology to the present generation and gen-next. Apart from movies, ads, fads and stand-up comedy, the remedy for many maladies are also uploaded on it for easy access.

No other medium of information can rival Youtube in providing the answer to everybody's quest to learn about things, flings and happenings past, present and futuristic. The know-how one failed to grab due to geographical isolation, lack of opportunity and academic incompetence, a click on the desired AV icon on Youtube, can more than make up, provided you have the time and inclination to do so.

God's purpose: The Almighty's main purpose in accelerating advancement of technology and upgradation of communication tools through men should have meant to quicken the spread of His Word that man needs for a peaceful life and attaining eternal life.

The Creator said in Exodus 31:3, "And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship." Now, the onus lies on us, recipients of undue favour, to reciprocate by using the gifts for His glory."

Lunminthang Haokip

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be contacted at ltphai1972(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on 10 June, 2017.

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