Functions of Mass Media

As mentioned earlier, mass media have pervasive effects on our personal and social life.
The role and scope of mass media in our society are in the following areas:
  ü  Information
  ü  Education
  ü  Entertainment
  ü  Persuasion
1. Information function
Mass media carry a lot of information which are essential for our day to day life. We know exam results, weather forecasts, current affairs, traffic regulations, last dates, precautions, government policies etc. from mass media. The core of media’s information function is performed by the media content called news. The place or time dedicated for news in a mass media is called news hole. News is the most consumed item of any media. News can be defined as reports on things that people want or need to know. Information should be accurate, objective and complete. Biased or incomplete reports will keep the audience away from the media. Advertising is also mass media’s information function. We get much useful information from classified advertisements.
2. Education function
Information is different from education. Education is systematically organized information with predefined objectives. The primary source of education in our society is schools or colleges. Media also perform the functions that educational institutions do. Media are life-long educators for the society. They give us comprehensive knowledge of selected topics. Non-news content or news-based content like editorials, articles, columns in newspapers provide us with complete idea of a subject. Health Magazines, IT magazines are also examples for education through media. Moreover, we have a number television channels dedicated for mass education.
3. Entertainment function
Irrespective of their type, mass media are wonderful entertainers. All media have
entertainment content. Newspapers publish cartoons, comics, puzzles, special weekend supplements for amusing people. Lion share of magazine content such as short stories, novels, satires and cartoons are for entertainment. Movies are another big stock for entertainment. Audio-Visual media such as television and radio are also primarily concentrate on entertainment function through their programmes based on sports, film, and fashion shows etc. 
4. Persuasion
Persuasion means influencing attitudes or opinions. Mass media have many ways to persuade people. Most people form their opinion from information they get from mass media. Media have direct and indirect methods for persuasion. For public opinion formation, mass media use editorials, news analysis and commentaries. In such cases, the purpose is clear and direct. The most obvious method of persuasion is advertising. Advertisements are direct methods to influence purchasing behaviour of the public. Some media report events hiding their vested interests in news. Such biased, subjective reports are for persuading people to form favourable attitudes towards them or their interests. Opinionated news is an undirected method of persuasion. It’s against the ethics of responsible journalism. News and opinion should be given separately.