Mass communication is very similar to other forms of communication. It involves people, messages, channels, noise etc. However, it possesses the following special characteristics or features in addition to the characteristics of general communication-
- Large number of audiences: The most important characteristic of mass communication is that its audiences are relatively large. Audiences of mass communication may exceed millions after millions.
- Heterogeneous audiences: The audiences of mass communication are not only large in number but also heterogeneous and anonymous in nature. Its audiences may belong to different ages, religions, sections and groups.
- Scattered audiences: The audiences of mass communication are scattered in a vast geographical area, even in the whole world. So its audiences are far away from the source of information.
- Personally unknown audiences: In mass communication, messages flow to scattered external audiences. Usually, the audiences are personally unknown to the communicator.
- Common messages: Mass communication delivers the same messages simultaneously to a vast and diversified audience. Whoever wish and has the ability to afford the media, can easily receive the message from the mass communications channels.
- Use of mechanical or electronic media: Mass communication relies on mechanical or electronic media to address large and diverse audiences. The media include radio, television, films, newspaper, posters, leaflets etc. Mass communication does not take place through face to face or telephonic conversation.
- Rapid and continuous dissemination: Another distinct characteristic of mass communication is the speedy and continuous dissemination of the message. Various media of mass communication like radio and television transmit messages instantly. Numerous copies of films, newspapers, books and magazines can be distributed across vast geographical area within few days. Moreover, modern mass communication occurs continuously where messages are sent on a schedule.
- Absence of direct feedback: In mass communication, there is no direct feedback from the receivers. It is mainly because the receivers of mass communication are far away from the source of information. For this, mass communication is regarded as mostly one way communication process. However, in some causes reactions of audiences can be known for their subsequent behaviors.
- Requiring professional help: Developing and designing the message of mass communication requires help of professional communicators. The professional communicators include reporters, editors, actors, authors, writers, official spokespersons and so on. These professional communicators design, edit and disseminate news, entertainment, drams, advertising messages, public reactions messages and political campaigns.
- Use of modern technology: Modern mass communication requires the use of various specialized modern technologies such as computer, computer network, fax, mobile phones, broadcasting media, printing devices etc. for effective preparation and distribution of message.
At last, we can say that the above stated features of mass communication have given it a separate entity form those of other types of general communication.