What Are the Characteristics of Print Media?

By Wesley Tucker

Updated January 22, 2019

What Are the Characteristics of Print Media?
i georgeclerk/iStock/GettyImages

Print media characteristics are determined by the message, the delivery and the production. When using print media, it’s advantageous to know what you want to say and the best way to say it. Whether it’s direct mail, magazines, newspapers or fliers and business cards handed out in grocery stores, all are characteristics of print media fulfilling its determined purpose.

Mass circulation print media

Newspapers are the most common printed mass media. Delivered to the home or sold at a newsstand, newspapers can be published daily, or regularly over the course of a week or month. Newspaper have the advantage of providing quick, inexpensive and tangible delivery of both news and advertising. You can't clip a pizza coupon from a radio advertisement. Magazines provide on a weekly or other periodic basis what the newspaper cannot: in-depth coverage and analysis of specific events or issues, not just the news of today. In most cases for newspaper and magazine print media, the information is a way to bring readers--and potential customers-- to the advertisements. A few specialty newspapers and magazines are supported solely by subscription and stand sales but they are not the norm.


Print media must get into the hands of the customer, the person who reads the material and responds to the advertisements. Home newspaper delivery does this in most areas. Mail delivery is another method. In fact, bulk mail delivery of printed newspapers, magazines, brochures and newsletters represents one of the U.S. Postal Service's biggest revenue sources. Other methods are door-to-door delivery and distribution at places of large public gatherings: stores, sporting events, schools and even on busy sidewalks. Business fliers left at grocery checkouts can be worthwhile if only a few of the readers respond to them.

Print media production

Print media production means one of two things: ink or toner. Whether print media is printed in million-plus runs on a multi-million dollar web press or 1,000 copies off of a copier at a local print shop, the goal is the same: producing printed material that balances quality with price and the message with substance. Again, the versatility of print media allows a customer, an advertiser, politician or opinion maker to use a variety of options when producing print media to get out the word.