The mass audience is beyond the communicator’s horizon, sometimes thousands of miles away. This is not the case with either interpersonal or group communication. Even technology-assisted group meetings via satellite or videoconferencing, although connecting faraway points, are not mass communication but a form of group communication.
Feedback. The mass audience generally lacks the opportunity for immediate feedback. In interpersonal communication, a chuckle or a punch in the nose right then and there is immediate feedback. With most mass communication, receipt of a consumer’s response—an e-mail to the editor, a canceled subscription, a nasty tweet—is delayed as the recipient (media consumer) doesn’t necessarily read it right away. Even a text message to a reality television show is delayed a bit and is certainly less potent than a more immediate response in interpersonal communication.
As previously referenced, mass communication cannot exist without technology. As such, mass communication was a triumph of the Industrial Age and the rise of machinery. Some people call it industrial communication. The term signifies the significant technological resources that are essential for mass communication to work on a large scale. Ever thought about buying a Goss Metro printing press to start a newspaper? Think in the millions of dollars. The Federal Communications Commission won’t even consider issuing a television broadcast license to anyone without cash upfront to meet six months of expenses. Again, think millions. Mass communication has historically been an industrial-scale undertaking—that is, until the advent of the Internet. For instance, the majority of people now receive the news through the Internet by reading an online newspaper via their personal computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This trend has had a significantly negative effect on the traditional paper newspaper industry but has expanded the reach of the news media allowing for a global audience.
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