What is not mass media

Mass media

Collective term for the press, radio and television, in a broader sense also for books, CDs, videos and the Internet, i.e. for means (= media) with which news and entertainment in writing, sound and images reach a broad audience.
The mass media of the press, radio, television and the Internet have an important role to play in a democracy. They are intended to provide comprehensive, appropriate and understandable information so that citizens can form a political opinion and participate in political decisions in an informed manner. In addition, the Basic Law guarantees the media freedom of reporting and prohibits any censorship [Art. 5 GG].

In day-to-day business, however, other aspects also play an important role. The many individual newspaper, radio and television companies are in fierce competition with one another and must first of all earn money in order to be able to continue to exist. (Exception: ARD and ZDF, which are largely financed by legally stipulated compulsory contributions from all owners of radio and television sets.) The main source of income is advertising, as advertisements in the press and as commercials on radio and television. A media company can achieve higher prices for this advertising, the higher the sales figures of its newspaper or magazine or the audience figures of its radio or television station. But anyone who wants to achieve high sales figures or high audience ratings cannot afford to simply provide dry information. At the same time, he has to entertain, arouse curiosity, constantly attract attention - and select his messages accordingly.

From the plethora of reports that arise every day about events around the world, you have to make constant choices anyway - for reasons of space in the newspaper and for time constraints on radio / television. Which events are worth passing on as a message? In addition, there are selection criteria for the professionals: If the event is new, is it close to the local reader / listener / seer, has a certain general scope, is it sensational, dramatic or curious, are celebrities involved, feelings are addressed, sex and other things happen crime comes into play, which always sells well? Journalists then decide what is passed on and what is not. The selection begins with the reporter on site and continues in the news agency, where the event reports are collected and then sold on to newspapers, radio and television. In the individual newspaper, in the individual television station, journalists then decide again what to choose from the news agencies' offerings. What ultimately appears in the mass media does not represent reality, but is a selected, manufactured image of it. Journalists put it together.

Even pictures on television, which many consider to be particularly trustworthy, only ever show a part of reality, namely the one selected by a reporter. Every journalist knows from experience that "bad" news is better received by the audience than "good". The headline "All nuclear power plants in Germany ran smoothly yesterday" does not excite anyone, quite the contrary. This easily gives the impression that the mass media produce a distorted picture of reality in which negative news predominates. Further allegations: For the purpose of sales promotion, scandals are talked about, hysteria spread and complicated issues inadmissibly simplified.

At least two principles apply to serious reporting: 1. The journalist must have carefully checked whether what he is passing on as news is actually true. 2. The journalist must make a distinction between the news and his opinion on it. The opinion belongs in a separate comment, but reporting an event, even if the journalist does not like it, should be as objective as possible. Incidentally, those who protect themselves against possible manipulation of their opinion by the mass media are those who use not just one but several media products in the face of the multitude of competing media products.

Source: Thurich, Eckart: pocket politik. Democracy in Germany. revised New edition Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education 2011.