/ˈmedə/ /ˈmēdēə/

referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential.

In a world where the term 'media' refers to just about anything, you've found yourself here, consuming yourself a little media-- about media itself (how meta) ! So behold the project I've coined META-MEDIA- that documents the (abbreviated) history of media, and how humans have been consuming their news throughout the years.

Dive in and explore the timeline that takes you through major milstones in human history that have impacted the way information is disseminated publicly, and how it's been rooted in the human experience since the 14th century. Our journey begins with Gutenberg's printing press which ultimately enabled print journalism, and ends in a funny place we call 'social media' (what's that?). I humbly present this little self-aware interactive media project.

While the quest for knowledge and information can be traced back to cave paintings from the Paleolithic Age, German businessman Johann Gutenberg’s printing press in 1440 marks a landmark beginning to the mass production and dissemination of media. Gutenberg’s invention of the first printing press revolutionized the production of books, enabling the communication and documentation of events during the time in print, “ushering in the era of the modern newspaper.”

Newspapers circulated Renaissance Europe, informing much of the merchant class, and the popularity of print media made way for “Pamphleteers” in the 17th and 18th century. “Pamphleteers” practiced a type of “citizen journalism,” with their production of pamphlets that challenged authority along with common intellectual and political views. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was among the pamphlets apart of this time in history-far before national press-that guided the principles of freedom of speech and press founded in America.

Print media reigned throughout the 18th and 19th century as America became established, and enabled political parties of the time to state and advocate for their positions. As the nation developed, so did the technology of print media throughout the Industrial Revolution.

In 1880 the first photographs appeared in newspapers and by the end of the 19th century, citizens relied on newspapers for their news, and their production became mainstream. 1890-1920 is considered to be a “golden age” of print media, based on its popularity at the time, and the publishing empires that ruled this media. Paperboys or children that distributed newspapers to businesses and homes, were common during print media’s heyday, and are a common symbol of this time. During this time, people received all their news through print media until the first radio broadcasts began in the beginning of the 20th century.

1926, The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) established the first broadcasting network, allowing broadcast radio to get in on the news scene. Radio allowed the public to consume media in a whole new way, by listening to the news. The new technology let citizens feel closer to the news and the individuals in the public eye, by being able to hear their voices. Franklin D. Roosevelt started “the fireside chats” which were a series of radio broadcasts given by the president. This series made radio a popular source of news for the public during the 1930s along with print media. Other big names during radio’s peak included Edward R. Murrow, CBS producer and broadcaster, as radio in America dominated the airwaves until the news started to hit electronic television later that decade.

Public news started being received through television news programs in the 1930s, but it was far from the media and journalistic culture we experience today. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) was the first network to seriously attempt to host a regularly scheduled news program on television in 1941. The programs began to gain traction with the public, establishing the networks anchors as trusted national figures. The CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, who anchored the evening news for CBS for 19 years (1962-1981) was known as “America’s Most Trusted Man,” by the heyday of television broadcast news in the 1960s and 70s. He is known for the broadcast of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Television, and specifically evening national news became the new norm for consuming media and news in the U.S. until the decentralization of national news as the only news being broadcast on television. Local stations began reporting local news stories and new national news networks came on to the scene.
The Internet was invented in the early 1980s, and also became an avenue for the public to receive news and information.

The devastating terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City shocked not only the world, but the way it received media. The chaotic events that unfolded September 11, 2001 were broadcasted live on seemingly every avenue of communication. Networks broadcasted devastating and graphic content of the attacks in live action, just as the news circulated on consumer technology by way of digital messaging and the Internet. Every platform that produced news covered the attacks that shocked the nation, and the evolution of technology that enabled the communication of this news was apparent—no longer was the public waiting for the evening news report, but instead they were surrounded by the media, and breaking news messages.

As technology continues to evolve over the 21st century, the “digitalized consumer technology landscape” of social media takes hold of media channels. With the invention of the iPhone in 2007, news networks began reporting news on Twitter and other social media applications accessible on the new technology. Nowadays social media is king (and queen and knight and okay, checkmate). The platform has rapidly gained popularity over the last 20 years, and is the primary way that America’s younger generation consumes media and receives news. From the data collected from The Pew Research Center in 2017, 36% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 use social media as their primary source of news, and I expect that percentage to only follow suit with the growing popularity of the platform.