Media History and Influence Essay Sample

Media History and Influence

The media has evolved over time to be what it is now.  This is a little known fact as many people assume it does not have a long history. It is now one of the most influential channels in the whole world. However, this was not so many years ago. The media history is divided into categories which are known as waves. There are four waves in the history of the media. The first wave is the time between the years1850 and 1900. This is also known as the photography era where pictures were the main medium used.

Then there came the second wave which is known as the cinema era. This took place between 1900 and 1950 and set standards for TV. The animation of photographs created the first new-time based art since the dawn of recorded history. Up to date, this is the era that is considered to be the best that the film business ever had. This was considered modern because it animated the photographs and put sounds, thus this marked a new era to the media evolution.

The third wave is the television era. This is the entry of the optical medium into the homes. Although it started off as a luxury, it slowly became a popular for homes. With cinema being the urban modern medium, television became the suburban postmodern medium. Although it started off as a broadcast form of media, it slowly shifted into cable which increased its spread to all cultures, flow lost centrality (Hackett & Zhao,2005). With its blurred authorship, appropriations and mixing of genres, it becomes the key aesthetic movement to be placed together with the third wave.

The fourth wave is the latest and the one we are currently in, it is also called the digital era. This is the era between the years 2000 and 2050. This era is dominated with the computer. Furthermore, the computer is the first media machine that can achieve three media functions all in one; therefore, it can produce, distribute and receive all without a sweat, it can also allow for interactions with others who can critic their uploads and vice versa. The fourth wave medium is considered to be uni modern because it makes modernism in all its variants by means of networks and broadcasts, is uniform in its effects and some influence plus its unitary in terms of its existing as strings of codes. However, with all its positivity, it came with some disadvantages.


Although the 3rd wave and fourth wave co-exist, there exist many different aspects of the two forms of media. Although they are no interactive, both of the media have influenced the social aspects of our lives in two very different ways. The TV trains us on what to do or how to behave when out with friends although it uses an observation type of interactions. When a child watches a sitcom like F.R.I.E.N.D.S he/she absorbs the interactions between the six friends’ behavior, their expectations from their friends and the consequences of their actions. This will dictate how the child will interact with his/her friends and what they should expect in return as well. A television show like the firm is also insightful as it enlightens children on what goes on in a court of law, what lawyers do and the kind of offences that might get one to jail. Although it might actually never affect the child’s life directly, it will raise his/her literacy level (Benschop, 2009).

A computer, on the other hand, falsifies interactions, thus inhibits the actual socializing with live people and real settings. Social networks are the new craze these days and even if a child uses the networks to socialize all day, he/she would still come off as an introvert when in real places. A child cannot know how to help their neighbor with a toy via Facebook only a real playground can teach them.

The computer uses a digital network unlike television and radio which used broadcast media but later on converted to cable. Broadcast media are used with radio and television, whereas digital media is made up of the internet and mobile types of communication. Unlike digital media, broadcast media cannot be captured and stored for the later use. If you want to watch the Thrilla in Manila on ESPN sports as it happens, it would be difficult for you to store it for your friend who could not make it. It would also be impossible to replicate the match unless you visited the station it was on. However, if you want to watch a podcast by T.D Jakes online with your wife but unfortunately she cannot make it in time you are able to visit the website at any other time and still manage to watch it (Cubitt, 1998). You can also download and make a copy for your brother who does not have internet. In addition, unlike digital media, broadcast media can only be produced by a specific producer. Digital media can be produced by anybody, there are no qualifications needed. Though, there are similarities between the two media networks; the two are involved with transmission of the same types of information which is done electronically on both cases.

Televisual aesthetics have greatly evolved from the second wave to where it is now. In this case, aesthetics do not refer to the beauty but rather to the most defining future of television. Television series usually follow the storylines that have been in existence before, for example photography and visual art and only changes once it has distinguished recognition and needs to separate itself from the flock (Hardy, 2002). This usually results in unremitting refinement and improvement, not only on the narration and story line parts but also on the technological aspects. Fredd Ott’s Sneeze one of the first shows ever filmed was only seconds long as compared to Modern times by Chaplin which was shot almost 45 years later. The two are entirely different when it comes to their visual scale of the screen, the genres, formulas and performing styles involved. With movies being deemed as superior to television, a lot of the features involved in movies were imported into TV. Shows such as I Love Lucy used the love for the stage towards its episodic series. The show used to be shot onstage in front of a live audience, although there were adjustments which favored for TV viewing. Although it was deeply rooted on the older media, I love Lucy was aware of television resources which were to function for the medium’s presence at home, thus to incorporate audio visual limitations and aspects of domestic life into the daily routines. These limitations are what birthed the different genres of TV such as sitcoms, soap operas, etc.

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Television has inherited a lot from modernism. When the television was majorly used, there were a lot of issues at a stake in the civilized world. Dr. Scully, a character from the television series, The X-files made the show part of popular culture through her role. She represented a strong female with ambitions and inspirations who pushed feminism to the very margins in a very conservative culture. This connected with many women, thus the popularity of the show (Hackett & Zhao,2005).

Postmodernism refers to a wide range of attitudes in the fields of aesthetic production and cultural criticism. To postmodernism, television has left a mark of its own. Television brought with it a lot of experimentation and a switch from the conventional flow. Bricolage and a mix up of the traditional narrative formulas are a common phenomenon thanks to television. The Simpsons are an example of what television has contributed to postmodernism; it is a show that represents the contemporary society in all its multifaceted glory. With a thousand characters, it is most definitely different from Charlie Chaplin’s modern times which did not have as many characters. For this reason, it represents many cultures and many types of people in an attempt to represent society as a whole. The Simpsons manages to reflect the pluralism of the postmodern society parodying but symbolic manner through the use of such contrastive characters as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon the Indian immigrant, Barney Gamble the local drunk and Abraham Simpson the lonely senior. This program is also not constricted to the specific age groups, social classes or ethnicities (Benschop, 2009). This inability to label The Simpsons to a specific genre is what makes the best example of what a television series has contributed to postmodernism.

However, television’s contribution to unimodernism is not so positive picture. Many people who watch television frequently have a picture of their future as a chemically destroyed world full of zombies, starvation and destroyed infrastructure. The Walking Dead is an example of such television series. In the TV series, the world has been brought to an almost end because of the chemical virus that turns people into zombies who eat others and turn them into zombies as well.


The second wave of the media was the cinema, an exciting entry into the media world. This form of media took the static photograph, animated it and eventually put sound to it. The cinema’s sound and visual aspects were aesthetic attributes in themselves, the introduction of narration stories, however, changed not only way we view our world but also how we framed and understood stories (Benschop, 2009). The change of media for the narratives that were told definitely influenced the way we position ourselves with respect to the society and others. The third wave which brought about the television was a new era of optical medium in our homes, something that was never before imagined. There was the popularity in episodic narratives. This was directly affected by the serial quality which could determine the duration that the television series would take before its closure. Although some never lasted long, others did, Guiding Light ran for about 68 years although only 53 of these were on television. Also, television took some aspects of the superior-rated cinematography and used onset. The Supranos uses illusion where they use events, story lines and characters from other similar gangster films which were never true in real life.

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The computer has developed aesthetically by focusing on cross-medium tactile relationships which include interactivity, playfulness, interdependence of relationships, autonomous generatively and the complexity and interdependence of relationships and also suspense. The computer has made it easy for producers, for example graphics programs allow someone to shade a picture perfectly but effortlessly. However, this machine has been largely criticized for promoting a lazy, couch potato culture due to the ability to produce, share and interact effortlessly. The machine has become easier and more enjoyable to use as a result of its interface.

The second wave became the best media form during the first world wars which is between the years 1914 and 1945. As much as the war shifted attention from the cinema form of media, it helped shape up the platform for television (Niemi, 2006).

Television had a very big impact on politics and still does up to date. John F. Kennedy, the 35th American President was one of the pioneers of using television in politics to its advantage. The first presidential debate to be shown via TV was that of John F. Kennedy and his then opponent Richard Nixon. This not only helped in mass education of the citizens but also influenced the way people voted from that election to this date. It is the popularity of the debates that birthed the new genre of political shows. Television shows like Sound Bites were ultimately produced and changed the political perspectives of the mass population. There, however, came television series that used narratives and storylines to address political issues, and example is The West Wing which was set on the west wing of the white house during the fictional democratic administration of president Josiah Bartlet (Benschop, 2009). The show addressed the inner workings of the oval office in the fictional Bartlet white house.

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The computer’s role in politics cannot be ignored no matter the short history. The lack of physical boundaries which allows everybody and anybody to produce content through of websites, blogs, etc. has been a major reason for the influence thus far. Wiki leaks, a website founded by the controversial Jullian Assange are an example of the effect of this type of media on politics. The displeasing content which was not supposed to be seen by everybody gave us a peek of the rotten political injustices that go about in our republic (Cubitt, 1998). To some this changed their perspective of the current government, its president and its system of running things. Unlimited interactions between each other have allowed us to talk about politics and try to change each other’s perspectives; therefore, this influences our political decisions no matter how small an effect it has on us. Through computers, we can also access other people’s websites, blogs, podcasts, etc. at any time and see what their opinions are about certain matters. If the opinions are those of respected people like local leaders and influential figures, it will hold a lot of water and even help us decide in the political decisions. The use of graphs, pie charts and diagrams which are all embraced in the fourth wave – help with the spread and easing the understanding of information to the mass population (Briggs & Burke, 2009).

Of the four different waves, the third wave which took place during the Second World War helped influenced the war majorly and to some extent also the decisions made during the war. This is known as the CNN effect but is criticized but most government agencies who claim war decisions are always made independent of any external influence. This is, however, not true as the media have been proved to have affected the military decision making in the Somalia and Iraq wars. The U.S. operation restore hope in Somalia is an example of an instance that the media had a positive effect to a U.S. military operation. When the U.S. military landed in Somalia, there was real time news coverage, however the navy SEAL team did not talk to the reporters as they were there to do their jobs, not to give interviews in the middle of an amphibious infiltration. The U.S. rangers carried out an attack to flush out a warlord in which eighteen Americans were killed, seventy seven wounded and one captured. This was captured by an American reporter and aired on American television. This sequence of events led to the cutoff of funds for the Somalia operation by Senator Robert Byrd as a result of this news reporting (Dienst, 1995).

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