Since the foundation of the earth, people have been communicating using different means and devices. Telegraph is just one of many means of communication that have been invented. It is a device that is used to transmit and receive written information from one point to another (Bruno Para 4). Messages are sent using an electric current although the word illustrates a system used to send written messages through optical means.
After its invention, it was the most popular means which was being used to send written messages in some areas of Europe and America. However, it is important to note that telegraph was exceedingly popular only before the invention of telephones although its use did not stop immediately. In addition, some means which came later like telegrams as well as telex continued to use telegraphy.
Nonetheless, they were later replaced by fax transmissions which were using telephone lines. Since the invention telegraph, a lot of development has taken place and currently, international telegraphy makes use of satellite transmission and radio bands which operate at a very high frequency.
Based on that background, it is explicit that invention of telegraphy has had various impacts in mass communication. Therefore, this essay shall focus on telegraph and narrow down to the impact of the same in the filed of mass communication.
It is important discuss the history of telegraphy to be in a position to understand its direct impacts in mass communication. Telegraph replaced earlier means of sending information which were inclusive but not limited to smoke, fires at night, drums beating and horns. However, towards the end of the eighteenth century, Claude Chappe, an engineer from France invented a telegraph system known as a semaphore which was used to send messages from one hill top to another (Coe pp. 24).
Latter on, Chappe and his brother were able to build a series of towers between cities which were using telescopes to send written messages from one city to another. His system became successful and he came up with the world telegraph. It is a combination of two Greek words, tele and graphien which means ‘distance’ and ‘to write’ respectively.
Generally, the word telegraph means writing at a distance (Bruno Para 7). However, it is important to point out that although the system was successful, it required a lot of staff to operate and was also affected by the weather. The invention of electricity was very instrumental as it led to the discovery of electric telegraphy by William and Charles in the 19th century. Electric telegraphy was closely followed by other improvements.
Morse, an artist from America invented electric telegraphy which could be used in the whole world. Although he lacked scientific information, he was able to consult some physicist who introduced him to electromagnetism. It is thorough the use of electromagnetism that Morse telegraphy was able to spread quickly through out the whole world and successfully replaced older version that was being used in Europe.
Through out history, major developments in telegraphy have been taking place as the world has been characterized by various technological developments. For instance, history records that the world was already connected by telegraph wires towards the end of the 19th century.
Telegraphic cables were even placed under the sea and through that, it was possible to connect different continents. For instance, Trans Atlantic cables were being used in the mid 20th century and by then; all parts in the world were connected using such cables (The History Of The Telegraph Para 4).
Although there are many means and devices that have impacted mass communication, the impact of telegraph cannot be underestimated. For instance, study of history has indicated that earlier means of sending information were so slow such that information sending could take not only days, but also weeks and months depending with the distance.
However, after major developments of a telegraphy system, it was possible to send a written message from London to New York in three minutes. Therefore, telegraphs resulted in efficiency and effectiveness as the distance factor was greatly reduced if not eliminate. That was a very significant step in mass communication as it marked the beginning of major improvements in the same filed (Castells pp. 10).
Initially, telegraph was very useful in the military since it was used to pass information during wars. For instance, during the civil wars in America, the intercontinental telegraphy came in handy as it made it possible to pass important information. The same system was also being used during the war between Spanish and America and also during the World War I. Moreover, through the use of teleprinters, it was possible to send secret information using the same system (Bruno Para 6).
Increased distribution of news from one region to another can be termed as the greatest impact of telegraph in the filed of mass communication. Initially, business and political news were confined in a particular region as there were no effective means of distributing information from one point to another.
Therefore, after the discovery of telegraph, information could flow easily from one region to another. As a result, business and politics as well as other aspects of culture were greatly changed due to the same effect. The knowledge of international news increased and the same had a great effect on people’s way of life. Although there were some negative effects of the same, there were a lot of benefits like peace promotion (Elon University School of Communications, Para 3).
Telegraph marked the beginning of great changes in the filed of mass communication. Apart from sending business and political news, telegraph contributed greatly to the newspaper industry. Before the invention of telegraph, newspaper industry was underdeveloped since printers used to publish information and stories that were within their reach (Steury pp. 80).
In addition, further studies illustrate that due to lack of a lot of information, newspapers used even to publish stories from other older newspapers. It was too taxing to gather information and to transport it from one point to another.
However, after the invention of a telegraph, it was possible to collect information from many points in wide geographical region and publish the same information in news papers before it became outdated. Since gathering of information was easier, competition increased as new dailies could now be published.
Gathering information also changed greatly as publishers made local arrangements which were meant to help in the same. Editors could easily exchange stories and it was possible to send information or a story from the interior parts to the editor directly (Fang pp. 10).
Telegraph is a device or a system that contributed greatly in the field of mass communication. It not only resulted in efficiency and effectiveness, but also affected the quality of information positively. Invention of a telegraph led to a lasting impact in the field of mass communication. For instance, from then onwards, it has been possible for news to be distributed from one continent to another.
Geographical distance ceased to be an obstacle. There were other developments that came in to being like sending of coded messages and all were influenced by telegraph (Steury Para 4). Therefore, telegraphy has been of great use since through it, the field of mass communication has been able to achieve its goal of distributing quality and up to date information. Consequently, major developments have taken place in all sectors.
Bruno, Leonard, C. Telegraph – History. n. d. Web.16th October 2010.
Castells, Manuel. Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.Print.
Coe, Lewis. The Telegraph: A History of Morse’s Invention and Its Predecessors in the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1993. Print.
Elon University School of Communications. 1830s-1860s-Telegraph. n. d. Web. 16th October 2010.
Fang, Irving, E. A history of mass communication: six information revolutions. Oxford: Focal Press, 1997. Print.
Steury, Donald, P. Under the Wire: How the Telegraph Changed Diplomacy. 2008. Web. 16th October 2010.
The History of the Telegraph. n. d. Web. 16th October 2010.