I Media Main I Media by Decade I Media by Genre I Media Timeline I
There was explosive growth of the media in the 1980s, especially television. With rising costs of materials and labour, and with competition from 24-hour cable television news, many newspapers disappeared, leaving many towns with only one print voice to service them. Satellite television reported events across the world live. Cable news and subscription cable television also rose in popularity, competing with network television.
In media, as in other large industries, mergers and corporate takeovers were common. Large publishers of big newspapers targeted smaller competitive newspapers for takeovers, hoping to have total domination in their towns or cities. Even as many small community newspapers were being taken over or shut down, consumers still wanted to be connected to their community through their local paper. Large papers added new sections to cater to them, such as a "Neighbours" section. Another innovation that began in the 1980s was the foreign-language edition, such as the Spanish version of the Miami Herald. These trends would continue into the Nineties.
Research studies in the Eighties showed that consumers found investigative reporting sometimes too long and negative. In 1982, Gannett Corporation launched USA Today, a bold and colourful newspaper that covered nationwide news. USA Today delivered topical and non-controversial national news coverage. It influenced regional newspapers nationwide; colour photography, colourized graphs and weather maps became more common in most of the major newspapers.
In the 1980s, another government scandal erupted known as the Iran-Contra Affair. Unlike Watergate in 1973, the Iran-Contra affair did not bring down the president. President Ronald Reagan was a former movie actor and friend of many powerful media executives and celebrities, and enjoyed a warmer relationship with the media than many past presidents. Televised Senate hearings were watched by millions daily but not with the same urgency as had been with Watergate. Television and radio talk shows debated over it, but the public eventually became tired with the whole affair.
In the 1980s, many new specialty magazines emerged. Magazines themes included the New Age Movement, family and divorce, computers and technology; men's and women's magazines. They more or less reflected the trends of the time, for example, with the increasing divorce rate, new families needed to know how to cope and stay together as well as where to find support. Many people read to learn how to cope in a changing world and get ahead.
Professional sports has long been linked to advertising and media coverage, especially the major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the World Series, etc. In the 1980s, advertising sponsorship of sports and endorsement by sports figures had reached multi-million dollar figures. Basketballer Julius "Dr J" Erving, received $2.5 million for commercials and appearances for Coca-Cola from 1984 to 1988. Advertisers sometimes named products after sports stars, such as Nike's Air Jordan (after basketball great Michael Jordan). As millions were paid to sports stars for endorsements, the cost of products rose. Soon, $100 sports shoes was not uncommon. It was a time of "brand names" or branded goods. This was a trend that would escalate into the Nineties.
Cable television was a based on subscription, sending programs to subscribers via coaxial or fibre-optics cables instead of public air waves. Originally to reach areas where reception was poor or non-existent, it expanded in the 1970s and 1980s. Cable television marketed its services by offering additional programming not available on network television. In addition to the basic cable channels, viewers could pay for other premium channels, such a Disney Channel's movies and cartoons, and movie stations such as HBO (Home Box Office), Showtime and Playboy. There were exclusive pay-per-view sporting events, such as the $80 world heavy-weight championships in 1997. These led to pay-per-view movies, featuring a variety of movies fresh out of theaters and not yet out for rental. Cable and network television showed movies with more graphic content, adult language and violence to maintain their audiences. Home shopping channels were extremely successful, as viewers could order products advertised on television from their homes.
On June 1, 1980, Ted Turner introduced CNN (Cable News Network), which became a highly successful 24-hour news, reporting comprehensively on war and crises, such as the Iran hostage crisis and the Persian Gulf war (1991). In August 1981, MTV (Music TeleVision) emerged, offering rock-and-roll music videos, repeating about every 2 hours. New styles of photography, computer animation and videotape composing turned the music video into a new art form. Singer Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, filled with outstanding dancers, videography and special effects, revolutionized the music video. MTV soon became a part of teenage culture.
to expanding television to the rural areas, was by satellite television.
Communications satellites in space could reflect signals from different locations
on Earth, to receivers or "dishes" on Earth. By the Eighties, a network of
sophisticated satellites was bringing news and entertainment from around the
world to homes.
The popularity and marketing power of American cinema have caused other national cinemas like those of Britain, Australia and Canada to suffer. Some national cinemas have copied the Hollywood style of movies, while some stick to their culture, for instance the Japanese film industry which has its own style and traditions.