Technology allows information distribution through a rich and powerful mix of multimedia platforms. Multimedia professionals are responsible for directing large-scale exchanges of information through text, audio, video, and data visualization. This important and influential profession requires the right mix of communication skills with a clear understanding of media ethics and theory.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that multimedia and communication jobs are projected to grow by 14%, which is faster than the average across all occupations.

That’s especially true for those who earn an MA in Multimedia with the goal of taking on leadership positions in journalism, marketing, and public relations. They benefit from an education that focuses on honing the critical skills needed for success as a team and department manager.

Graduate students, typically professionals with years of experience, use a master’s degree program to expand their skills in digital communications. Technology has changed communications in profound ways, creating new channels for multimedia professionals to better reach their intended audience.

Understanding Media Theory

By entering a graduate program, professionals enter a new phase of their careers. A part of that transition involves developing expertise in media theory and how to apply those concepts to real-world situations.

Online job site Indeed recently published a list of media theories. They also directly addressed the importance of these theories in a world where people often question the accuracy of messages.

“Mass communication theories matter because they provide insight into how people consume, engage with, and distribute media,” they wrote. “The messages contained in media may have an impact on the audience, and these theories provide a framework for understanding that impact.”

  • Agenda setting theory. Agenda setting theory argues that media, particularly news outlets, create an agenda of news stories that influence how much the public cares about whatever event or issue they focus on.
  • Gatekeeping theory. This theory, related to agenda setting, focuses on the idea that one person acts as a gatekeeper, making decisions on what information they communicate to the audience.
  • Aristotle’s communication model. This model focuses on analyzing the impact of five elements of communication: the speaker, the speech, the occasion, the audience, and the effect on the audience.
  • Entertainment education. This refers to a theory that involves mixing educational content with entertainment.
  • Media richness. This theory pertains to the idea that media is available at different levels of richness, and the two main factors that determine how rich communication needs to be are certainty and equivocality.
  • Mood management. This theory posits that the communications and media people pay attention to depend on their mood – more specifically, that people seek out media that optimizes their current mood. Stressed-out people may watch a comedy show for relief. People angry over a situation involving politics may watch a specific news outlet that will validate their anger.

Ethics in Mass Communication

People may associate ethics mostly with mass communications professionals working in journalism, but it’s also critical for those in areas such as public relations and marketing.

One of the four key elements of ethical communication is transparency and honesty. Communications professionals have the responsibility of making every single word in any type of communication factual and accurate.

Another important consideration is the audience. Some communications professionals fall into the bad habit of using esoteric, niche jargon that many readers will not understand. Such writing has its place in some contexts, but communicators must determine the audience and correctly choose the language that makes the content easily understood.

Communication professionals must also strive to protect privacy and confidentiality, as well as consider the timing or placement of messages. This is especially true in marketing, where professionals must place their content before the appropriate audience.

Careers in Mass Communications

A graduate from a multimedia or mass communications program benefits from having skills that transfer into many different occupations. Multimedia jobs include the following. Salary figures are the national average from May 2021 provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  Occupational Handbook.

  • Journalist – $48,370
  • Sound engineer – $49,050
  • Video editor – $60,360
  • Social media manager – The BLS does not track this position, but reports an annual average salary of $53,061
  • Technical writer – $78,060
  • Public relations manager – $119,860
  • Advertising manager – $133,380

Point Park University’s MA in Multimedia Degree

The Point Park University Master of Arts in Multimedia prepares graduates for leadership positions in mass communications. Graduates work in journalism, public relations, marketing and more. Work environments include public agencies, private businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofits.

The 100% online program offers a flexible and affordable option for professionals who want to expand their multimedia and communications skills. Point Park University offers a faculty with experience in the field who can offer students both the theories that drive excellent communications as well as how to apply those theories to daily challenges.

Point Park University is also lowering the per credit cost for most master’s programs from $881 to $759 in Fall 2022, including the MA in Multimedia, in an effort to make continuing education more accessible for working adults.