The Neglected Medium: Postage Stamps as Mass Media

Yehiel Limor, Ilan Tamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The large number of comprehensive studies on mass media is indicative of the role mass media play in society and societal effects, as a result of which they are instrumental in the analysis, interpretation, and construction of social reality (Shoemaker & Reese, 2014). Mass media themselves - the print press, television, radio, books, as well as the Internet and social media - and especially the contents they produce and widely disseminate, have been the topics of diverse studies anchored in many disciplines. It appears, however, that one such medium has failed to attract the research attention it deserves and has even failed to be recognized as a mass medium. This medium is postage stamps, with billions of copies printed annually and disseminated worldwide. In 2009, 37 billion stamps were printed in the United States alone (Ballentine, 2016). This article proposes to define postage stamps as a mass medium, based on generally accepted definitions and well-known communication theories. Postage stamps constitute official state documents that reflect the values that a country wishes to represent to its citizens and the world. Embracing the definition of postage stamps as a mass medium would, among other things, extend the research horizons of fields such as media, politics, arts, and culture. The article has three aims: First, to define, identify, and explore the features of postage stamps as a mass medium; Second, to gain insight into the reasons for postage stamps' neglect in media research; and third, to propose potential research directions to explore postage stamps' functions as a mass medium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-505
Number of pages15
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Agenda Setting
  • Framing
  • Mass Media
  • Postage Stamps
  • Uses and Gratifications


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