How do we define “the media”?

I’ve compiled information from a bunch of people from different backgrounds, ages, and social experiences in an attempt to define “the media”. I’ve asked each of these people the two following questions: “What is ‘the media’?” and “What do we mean when we talk of ‘the media’?” The responses that I received were varied but all generally danced around the same ideas. Most responses included listing various types of media such as newspapers, television, the internet and its various subsets of social media like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to name a few. It also seemed to be defined by something that relays information to the masses, particularly news outlets focusing on current events. People also seemed to attach a certain stigma to “the media,” as if the entity is somewhat inherently flawed or untrustworthy, which I thought was particularly interesting. There were, however, also people who weren’t quite sure how to answer my questions. “The media” to them seemed to be a vague concept, something that included television reporters. A concrete definition though was beyond their ability because to them the media just existed and they never though much about what it actually was.

From this compiled information, I have constructed my own definition for “the media.” I believe the media to be any type of mass information distributor that influences culture. This definition encompasses all the different examples of media as well as its effects it has on the people that ingest it. It also incorporates the idea that the media can either positively affect culture or, conversely, negatively influence it. I believe the media does have an active role in shaping our society, the ideas, and the values which we as a people hold true. Whether this kind of power is accompanied by the proper responsibility though is another matter for another time.


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