This paper analyses the role of technology in electronic and digital media. It also looks at the historical and the contemporary roles that are played by the media in the daily activities in the society. The advancement of technology since the time it was discovered is also looked into together with how the media utilizes these innovations.

Technology plays a very important role in electronic and digital media since the adoption of the color television in 1960 by the private entertainment businesses (Earnshaw & Vince, 1996). Increase in disposable income and leisure time accelerated the development of local radio and independent television.  First there was the development of audio and video tape and then digital media which was developed from compact disc in 1980s. This development included satellite media, cable and digital video among others. This article will give the historical and contemporary roles of media in society and describe how the chemical and electronic technology of photography, recording, and transmission has advanced from the initial discovery to the present. It will also describe how mass media uses these technological innovations,  analyze how the development of digital technology has affected the content, distribution, and style of electronic media and finally discuss how the role of mass media has changed with these developments.

Media plays vital roles in the society. One of the roles is that it carries out the surveillance of the environment. Media helps in disclosing any opportunities and threats that may affect the community (Dougherty, 1999). This thus helps the people to take advantage of the opportunities and at the same time prevent threats. Secondly, the media has an ethical importance to the society because it helps in making the society aware of the good ethics they are supposed to adhere to either at work place or in their family setups. In addition media plays a strategic role because it helps in transmission of messages which may be structured in a specific way and may be strategically important to social awareness, political, advertising and marketing campaigns.

Photography was developed in the in the first quarter of the 19th century in Western Europe. It was developed after great exploration of the light properties and it affect the desire to make reproducible and accurate records of an experience and also due to the progress of the chemistry and optics. In the past primitive tools were used to record images on stone explaining everyday life details. In the mid sixteenth century, J.B. Porter an Italian philosopher accidentally discovered that when light rays penetrate a small hole in a dark room produced an image which was upside down. He then modified his camera by replacing the small hole with a convex lens (Earnshaw & Vince, 1996).

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In 1835, Henry Fox Talbot produced some images of flowers and leaves which were made by pressing them on a paper immersed in silver nitrate and later leaving the paper and the objects on the sun. Though the earliest photographs were on paper, at around nineteenth century glass pates were used in recording of images using chemical photography. These glass plates still remain stable after 100 years later and they are collector items among the photographers and historians.

In 1929, Zworykin developed a picture tube which made the development and design of television receivers easier. In 1941, National Television Standards committee applied for approval of commercial television system where each channel was 6 MHz in frequency. In 1982, Sony developed the first video camera while in 1990 Kodak produced a photo CD storage system. In addition, Kodak also produced digital camera of very high quality in 1994 and in 1996, the mass marketing of these digital cameras for consumers started (Dougherty, 1999).

Mass media is a product of technology because technological development has an impact on the state of the mass media at any given time. Printing press technology made it possible to circulate the first mass newspapers (Earnshaw & Vince, 1996).  Technology has also helped in the development of radio broadcasting. With existence of computer technology, mass media has gone through a revolution.  This is because computers can electronically store and transmit vast amount of information. With the development of digital computer, transmission of information is efficient and fast. A technological innovation has helped in digital recordings, satellite broadcasts and international computer network.

Digital technology helps in the translation of all forms of contents like images, video, audio, animation and text into a form that can be easily manipulated by computer. An analog communication technology has gradually been replaced by digital technology. This is because the analogue technology, records, stores and transmits copies which are not perfect while the digital technology permits transmission and duplication which is perfect as it makes it easy for digits to be copied precisely.

Therefore, digital technology has two general importances to the media. First, it provides a perfect way of transmitting media content, recording and storing. Secondly, it is the means by which media content is represented for use with computer and related technologies.

Several devices for both oral and written communication have come to existence with technological development. Development in technology has ensured accuracy, speed and message reload. A number of visual, audio visual and electronic media have taken the important role in communication. Advancement in technology has also resulted to communication advancements like telex-lecturing, television short circuit and development of new devices of telecommunication services.

Media is a product of technology and therefore technological innovation has resulted in the development of better devices in media thus ensuring efficient and fast storage and transmission. This article therefore has clearly explained the role that technology has played in electronic and digital media.

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