Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

Information and Media

What’s your learning type? Some people are visual learners; others are auditory, or kinetic or reader-writers. We all absorb information in different ways. However, the world doesn’t know what your learning style is. So, throughout your life, you will be exposed to information in a variety of formats or media. When we use this term, media, we’re referring to the various ways that people distribute information. Each is important to understand, since not all information is going to be presented in the way that’s best for you. Sorry.

Print Media

Let’s start with one of the most obvious. Print media refers to information distributed through published formats, generally implying text. Books, magazines, pamphlets and brochures are all forms of print media. In print media, the information is going to be mostly contained within the text, which means reading to extract information. Since different forms of print media organize information differently, knowing what you’re working with can help. Academic books tend to put the most concise summaries of the information at the beginning and end of each section. Novels disperse plot in relatively even progressions. Pamphlets and brochures organize information in a systematic and simplistic way.

Pulling information from print media means thinking about how the author compiles the text. What stands out? What is more subtle? The organization of print media impacts the amount of information that can be communicated, as well as the depth of that information.

Artistic Media

When talking about print media, we’re almost always talking about text-based items. However, there are also several forms of media that are tangible, but not based on words. Visual artistic media are the forms used by artists, including painting, drawing and sculpture. Visual artistic media still contain lots of information, but there aren’t words to directly explain it to you. Instead, artists present information through visual cues and objects.

So, what should you look for in a piece of art? For one, pay attention to what stands out the most. Is there a part of the piece that is brighter, larger, or more prominent? Once you’ve identified that, look at the less obvious elements. What’s in the background, how are things positioned, how do various elements or objects relate to each other? These things can all give you clues as to what the artist is trying to communicate.

What information is in this painting?

Auditory and Broadcast Media

Of course, not all information is presented visually. Music, for example, is a way to present information through auditory media. Information presented this way impacts you very differently than the visual media, since a different sense is being utilized. However, many of the same ideas for extracting information apply. What stands out the most? What makes those things stand out, and how do background elements impact them?

Auditory media make up a substantial part of our lives, largely thanks to our ability to broadcast radio waves and other signals around the world. Collectively, we call all media distributed this way broadcast media. While lots of broadcast media are primarily auditory (like music on the radio), television is also a form of broadcast media. Things like TV and movies are unique in the ways they are able to combine visual and auditory elements, engaging multiple senses simultaneously. As with other forms of media, however, broadcast media needs to be understood for what it is. Generally, information presented this way is compacted into smaller, digestible doses. Additionally, the ability to control both the auditory and visual elements gives broadcast media a great amount of control- making sure that people all receive the same information in the same way.

TV is a unique form of broadcast media

Think about a book you’ve read that was also made into a movie. When you read the book, did you visualize the characters in your head, hear their voices, or imagine various aspects of the setting? You probably did, and you weren’t alone. If 1 million people read the book, there were 1 million different ideas about these details. Now, that book became a movie and those 1 million people went to watch it. When they left, they all shared 1 single idea about what the character looked like or sounded like. The type of media gave the producers more control over the information being communicated.

Digital Media

Of course, there’s one last form of media for us to discuss. The digital revolution of the last decade or so has transformed the ways that we communicate. Now, information can be readily found in digital format. Digital media, like broadcast, are often able to combine various visual and auditory elements to present clearly-defined information.

Digital media present entirely new ways to share information

However, what makes digital media so interesting isn’t just how it’s presented, but how much of it is presented. The quantity of information presented in the Internet, for example, seems practically infinite. A single website may only contain so much information, but there are always new websites to check out. As such, digital media are often focused on capturing your attention and quickly presenting information. The goal is to make their information stand out from the rest, which can sometimes lead to over-exaggeration or over-simplification. There’s a wide world of media out there, and it all wants to tell you something.

Lesson Summary

The various forms of media are the ways that information is packaged and communicated. Visual media include things you learn by seeing them, while auditory media are those you hear. Print media include publications like books or journals. While they are nearly always based on text, visual artistic media like painting and sculpture tend to rely on images to communicate. Broadcast media transmit information through various signal waves, and while radio is purely auditory, television is an example of a broadcast media that combines visual and auditory elements. Digital media are those available through digital technologies, and are notable for the dramatic scope and range of information they contain. There’s a whole world of information out there for you; you just have to understand the various forms of media to go get it.

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