Mass media focuses on audience and scale.
The term ‘media’ can refer to different things e.g. art materials, the news, digital technology etc.
An early example of mass media can be found when copies of the bible were reproduced by scribes to broaden the audience that could consume them. Due to limited numbers though, the bibles were exclusive to a small audience and the monastery had the power of being in control of the distribution of knowledge to a minority audience of their choosing. The power over information was lost with the introduction of the printing press when mass production of texts became the norm and were available to much larger and wider audiences.
Illustration is considered the oldest form of mass media.
Nowadays, with mass media being so commonplace, audiences have turned backwards and cherish ‘live’ performances more than they may have previously. For example, music is downloadable or easy to stream but many people enjoy going to see live performances.
Similarly, whilst most people now watch TV online rather than live, some programs or events bring the nation together as people make an effort to be in the right place at the right time to watch the event live, examples being the Olympics or, a recent example, the Great British Bake Off 2016 when a peak of 14.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the finals. Like this, the event that was broadcast on TV first which led to many households purchasing a television was the televised Queen Elizabeth II coronation.
With mass media and modern technology, especially social media, the public sphere (what’s in the public domain) has changed so there is less power held by companies with information, for example the news, who monitor social media now to find stories, often using user generated content in the broadcasts.
Even today there is domination of the American film industry, something that can be traced back to WWI when Europe was in a state of war and could not develop film whereas America was free to do this, breaking ahead of Europe in terms of film development.