Television Vs The Printing Press


Television Vs. The Printing Press Essay, Research Paper

Justin Loftis

MCOM 110

October 1999

Television vs. The Printing Press

Title Bout Among Media Industries

The television and the printing press are two very essential and widely used media

products. In order to determine which one could be named the superior of the two I have researched and studied both topics extensively .In this essay I will explain why I have come to the conclusion that the printing press is more influential, vital, and educational to society than the television.

How can a five hundred-year-old printer be influential? I can answer this question in one word, literacy. What do literacy and influence have in common? The printed material produced by Johannes Gutenberg sparked a curiosity that actually motivated people to be educated. The availability of printed material was very low. Reproduction of words and

(The first important book made in the west with moveable type, the forty-two lined bible, the most influential book in the world)

images had been so expensive and time consuming to create that only a minute percent of the population could even get their hands on it, let alone understand it. By bringing together the basic concepts of printing, Gutenberg started a world revolution. With moveable type that could be reused and a press for impressions that could be used a plethora of times, the printing press made it possible for publications and reading material to be more abundant and quickly produced. So, the effects of Gutenberg’s cause are the spread of ideas and news and information, which shaped the world’s thinking. The influential outcome of the printing press is the words and images it produces. They influence our thoughts, actions and our lives.

The reason I believe the printing press is vital to our society is the simple fact that we use it so much. Our currency is produced by the printing press. Our mailing system as far as stamps are concerned is another product of the printing press. Advertisements, wrappers for food, entertainment such as comic books and playing cards, and calendars are all items that Americans and people all over the world use everyday. The television can do two things, project an image and create a sound with that image. It is not mobile like the products of a printing press nor is it as affordable and easily possesed. In America’s quickly moving society, products of the printing press are easier to transport, understand and exchange than any other means of communication. If television was really the complete package, and could inform everyone all the time about everything anywhere, then why are newspaper companies and magazines and books still selling so much? Because printed material is vital to society, we need it to survive, to grow, and to learn, and printed material part of it all.

(Tolbert Lanston’s invention cast type in individual letters as opposed to entire lines)

Education is fundamental to growth and survival in today’s society . From learning about a concert on Friday night from a flyer handed out at the beach to biology books teaching doctors how to treat our illnesses, printed material teaches people an abundance of knowledge. Regardless of importance, it informs. Printed material made by the printing press contributes to the enrichment of individuals thinking. The libraries that are in most all communities’ hold more knowledge than one human being could absorb in a life time. Television does not always have a program that is informing on a subject of which you would like more knowledge on, therefore books and magazines are a better source of information and entertainment.

Overall, I believe that television is a lazy man’s newspaper and is more accepted by society than products of the printing press. Never the less, billboards, money, stamps and church pamphlets are items that could not be abandoned from our lives. Printing press products are more affordable, easily distributed and copied for the convenience of all people, not just those who can afford television sets and cable, and homes to put them in, but everyone. The bible and school textbooks are used and read everyday millions of times by millions of people, you can’t do that with a television. John F. Kennedy called television “a vast wasteland”. I can’t help but think that he would he would grin and agree with my opinion stated in this essay.

1. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe. 1994-1997

2. The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition volume 22 .1996

3. World Book Encyclopedia volume 15. 1993

4. A Short History of the Printed Word by Warren Chappell. 1980

5. The Book Before Printing by David Diringer. 1983

6. Books: From Writer to Reader by Howard Greenfeld. 1978


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