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The mass media serve the variety of functions depending on individual interest and societal needs. In general terms, the function of mass media means how mass media are being used for what.
According to Daramola :( 2001) mass media is mainly to inform. Other reasons like the ones below are secondary.
a.                   Mass media can be used to draw people together or pitch them against one another and therefore tear them apart.
b.                  To cement a relationship or cause disaffection.

What this simply means is that mass media can be functional, it can also be dysfunctional. In this case, mass media can be used to expose or to cover up. It can also be used to inform the people or to deceive them. One point that needs stressing is that without mass media, virtually every human activity will not take place.
A lot of scholars have propounded what can be called conceptual functions of mass media. One of such scholars, Fredrick C.Whitney has this to say about mass communication function:
  • ‘It informs, that is, it keep one up-to-date.
  • It educates, that is, it broadens and deepens one’s perspective
  • It persuades, that is, to sell goods and services and candidates and opinions.
  • It entertains, that is it creates laughter, fill a void. It cost money and void money’.

Harold Lasswell, in a classic paper titled, ‘The structure and function of communication in society’ published in 1948 identified three functions of mass media. These three functions are:
1.                  Surveillance of the environment- policy.
2.                   Correlation of parts of society in responding to the environment.
3.                  Transmission of the social heritage from one generation to the next.

Another authority Charles D. Wright adds another function to the three mentioned by Lasswell and that is entertainment- watching of play, films, cross word puzzles, comics, and all sort of entertainment programmes. Mass media can also persuades, educate and interpret messages to the people.
According to Daramola (2001): The message
is meant to persuade and convince or convert
its receivers through reasoning and
argument. This presupposes that a consumer
identifies in a personal way with the message.
This in turn satisfies his urge and creates for
him a frame of reference and cognitive detail
about the word. Daramola (2001:27)

Education: The message is meant to instruct or teach. The message becomes a systematic method that exposes the people to a new ideological stance. With this people get enlightened and can then orientate their minds to their own peculiar circumstances. Ibid

Interpretation: message is the product that passes through the mass media. It is meant to explain issues and problems encountered in the event or news to the receivers. This comes in form of news commentary, features and editorials instead the message should prescribed what to do, how to do it and why it is necessary to carry out a particular action.
Mass media provide people with information they need to formulate their own ideas. The citizens need information about their government, economy; immediate and far away environment journalists carry out the function of informing the people through the mass media. They inform the people about events, issues and new ideas. It is often said that information is power and that proper information is vital to clear thinking. (Ibid.p28)