What Was Mass Media of the 1920s?
In the 1920s, mass media largely consisted of newspapers, although radio and film began to become important new media tools during the decade. The mass media was dominated by newspaper syndicates, consisting of papers in multiple cities owned by a single owner or organized under one corporation.
Advancements in electronic communication, from the telegraph to the telephone to wireless radio, allowed the rapid transmission of information across long distances. This allowed newspapers to receive stories from far afield and report on news as it happened. Many papers published multiple editions in a single day in order to provide the most up-to-the-minute coverage for their readership. Electronic communication also allowed newspapers to share stories by transmitting a single piece over the “wire” to every paper in a syndicate. This capacity gave publishers immense power to shape public opinion through their many outlets.
Radio’s first commercial broadcasts occurred during the 1920s, and while the technology would not mature for another decade, it soon became an important method for transmitting news. Radio broadcasts provided live updates, allowing listeners to experience events as they happened for the first time.
The 1920s also saw the growth of newsreels, which were factual films produced to run in theaters. Since these still required the film to be manually transported, newsreels from far away stories could be days or even weeks old by the time they reached a given theater. However, the ability to show audiences imagery of important news events made newsreels a popular form of mass media.