The aim of this book is to help students to understand the contemporary media
and communications environment. It provides ways of thinking about a range of
new platforms of delivery, modes of consumption and industrial scruccures, as well
as about the struccure and function of traditional print and broadcast media and
communications. l ts orientation reflects the fact char the changed nature of the
media and communications environment in recent years has been so substantial as to
provoke us to ask the question in our sub-heading above: what are the media today?
Implicit in that question is the proposition that to continue to think of the media
only through the traditional distinctions between electronic (television and radio) and
print (newspapers and magazines) media, and between these and telecommunications
(fixed and mobile phone) is no longer sufficient. The near-ubiquity of informationbased
systems of delivery, such as computers in the home, the introduction of digital
technologies of production and distribution in broadcasting and the cinema, the
globalisation of media and communications markets, the growing convergence of
broadcasting, information services and telecommunications, and the challenges to established media posed by the explosion ofWeb 2.0 services and social media have all
contributed to the formation of a highly volatile and greatly altered media landscape.
What distingwshes the situation today from that of only a few years ago is that now
every sector of the media is affected by these challenges and is responding to them.
Much of what constitutes the so-called 'new' media and their influence is no longer
new, while at the same time wholly new sectors-such as apps- have developed in
the last few years. That said, it is also important to recognise that this situation is
most pronounced in those countries with highly developed media systems, and that
the majorit:y of the world's population still does not have access to these new media
platforms. Nonetheless, where they exist, the influence of the new media platforms
has been profound.