To deny the fact that Information and Communications Technology is not only important but crucial in Mass Communication is an understatement. In this post- modern world today, to live without knowledge of ICT is like having a pen in your hand without knowing what to do with it. Our world has become a global village without necessarily destroying our various cultures. Like the Radio and Television before it, the Computer has eventually become a home appliance that many people look at as an indispensable medium of communication. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the importance of ICT in Mass Communication. Let us begin with the definition of the terms.
Mass communication is the term used to describe the academic study of the various means by which individuals and entities relay information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time. It is usually understood to relate to News paper and Magazine Publishing, Radio, Television, and Film as these are used both for disseminating news and for advertising.
Mass communication research includes media institutions and processes such as diffusion of information, and media effects such as persuasion or manipulation of public opinion. In the United States, for instance, several university journalism departments evolved into schools or colleges of mass communication or "journalism and mass communication". In addition to studying practical skills of journalism, public relations or advertising, they offer programs on "mass communication" or "mass communication research.
Information and Communications Technology or (ICT) on the other hand, is an umbrella term that includes all technologies for the manipulation and communication of information. The term is sometimes used in preference to Information Technology (IT), particularly in two communities: education and government. In the common usage it is often assumed that ICT is synonymous with IT; ICT in fact encompasses any medium to record information (magnetic disk/tape, optical disks (CD/DVD), flash memory etc. and arguably also paper records); technology for broadcasting information - radio, television; and technology for communicating through voice and sound or images - microphone, camera, loudspeaker, telephone to cellular phones. It includes the wide variety of computing hardware (PCs, servers, mainframes, networked storage), the rapidly developing personal hardware market comprising mobile phones, personal devices, MP3 players, and much more; the full gamut of application software from the smallest home-developed spreadsheet to the largest enterprise packages and online software services; and the hardware and software needed to operate networks for transmission of information, again ranging from a home network to the largest global private networks operated by major commercial enterprises and, of course, the Internet.
IMPORTANCE OF ICT IN MASS COMMUNICATION
One of the importance of ICT is that it has helped in the technological development of Mass Communication. With the increased role of the Internet in delivering news and information, mass communication studies and media organizations tend to focus on the convergence of, publishing, broadcasting and digital communication. The internet was created to provide easy access to much needed information, education and entertainment online. It provides less expensive option to these sources, because people can easily download an entire musical album from a website and use at a much lower fee. Also, introduction of this new technology has not only enhanced Mass Communication but also challenges the traditional concept of Mass Communication where according to the old definition, the source of Mass Communication message was defined as a large organization whose message is sent to a large heterogeneous scattered audience.
A case in point is electronic commerce on the internet which helps advertising agencies to advertise the products and services of their clients on the website which can easily be accessed by customers. Consumers are also able to shop on line at the comfort of their homes and offices which makes shopping easy.
Secondly, information technology has impacted positively on Advertising Agencies to increase productivity since they could easily access information on the customers of their clients through research on the internet, develop their advertisement and print hard copies of it, irrespective of the size of the copy. Likewise, public relations practitioners are able to easily analyse data collected from research on the internet and other sources and make it available to management.
Furthermore, media houses have also enhanced their performance with the use of information technology. They are able to gather more needed information and feed their audiences with current news and information through their website and other electronic media. They are also able to use the media to solicit views from their audiences on various issues. Similarly, press houses are able to plan the pages of their News papers and easily print the hard copies using this technology.
More so, the internet offers businesses information on the local and foreign stock market and the opportunity to trade their stocks. Financial institutions also make use of the information on the financial market to take decision. Government also uses information technology especially the internet to reach most of its publics. This helps to disseminate information on government policies and programmes. Political parties also make use of the internet and other electronic media to disseminate information on their selected candidates, party policies and programmes.
In spite of these benefits of ICT in Mass Communication, there are bad sides to it. The introduction of ICT, has rendered most communicators unemployed since their jobs can easily be done without them. Also, the inability to censor information on the internet or control certain information from reaching some vulnerable group of people in the society is a major concern to many people.
In conclusion, it can be realized that the development of Information and Communication Technology has impacted more positively on Mass Communication than negatively and so ICT plays an important role in Mass Communication.