How Did Blog Affect the Mainstream Media Much Like What Happened with Open Source and Proprietor. Looking briefly at the history of media, it seems media almost appears ageless; however, the Print Revolution began in France from 1450 to 1789 (Briggs and Burke 13). Internet, which is the main host of blogs, came into recognition in the 80s and has dominated the media environment since then. One important aspect of traditional media is that it continues to garner interest from people despite the speed of transmission and connection offered by the Internet Revolution. Blogs, as informal medium of personal, political, commercial, and social expression, have mounted serious competition against the traditional media in recent years, but it has not been quite successful in taking over the entire followership of the regular media, be it newspaper or radio or television etc (Tremayne 64). But for clarity purpose, the media that will be compared with blogs in this essay is the print media-which comprises of the traditional magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.
The best way to define an Open Source is by looking at the collaboration it creates among users by providing them unique opportunities to use, program and upgrade important software. Blogs have been compared lately with Open Source projects in the sense that they present similar opportunities for people to collaborate on significant issues of public concerns, and doing so with the liberty to voice their own opinions on these matters. Open Source projects like Linux, Wikipedia, and so on. Linux system, in particular, accounts for 23% of the entire operating systems of all servers (Lerner and Tirole 371). This reveals that Open Source project commands an appreciable amount of the whole operating systems. Similarly, blog projects provided freely by Internet companies like Google, Yahoo, MSN, Word Press, and other independent companies offer the public the unique opportunity to express their views without having to pay so much money for using them. Statistically, it may be impossible to estimate all the number of blogs existing in the blogosphere; however, Technorati tracked as many as 30 million blogs to discover what they contained various messages targeted at the billions of Internet users globally (Brown 249).
Now that they are comparatively the same, what motivates bloggers and Open Source programmers to do what they are doing? It is important to outline the apparent motivations that push people to blog before explaining if there are some incentives for doing so or not. Bloggers are agitated to exchange their messages with the people of the
world: they blog about fashion, cooking, education, lifestyles, religion, politics and so on. In the same way, the programmers of Open Source projects are naturally motivated to share their knowledge with the public-they are glad to give people the chance to use and upgrade these free software and apply them in their businesses, education, day- to-day commercial activities and so on. The list of the Open source software now seems unending: there are Mozilla, Joomla, Apache, Openoffice.org, MongoDB, and GNU Project. But the extent to which these resources could be made available free of charge for public use may be limited owing to the costs of maintaining them. Hence, this leads to the issue of incentives: Interestingly, Open Source Projects’ programmers are getting financial, legal, and moral supports from governmental bodies, private corporations and the public as a whole. These have become incredible incentives for the programmers to keep working on making the Open Source Projects great for the numerous users (Lerner and Tirole 372). Similarly, bloggers receive some incentives to keep blogging: in the case of corporate bloggers, they receive monthly or weekly stipends for helping companies of all sizes market their products and services, or they are given commissions on the number of sales the companies make through their blogging (Gardner 319). Comparatively, the incentives received by Media Executives come in form of their monthly salary, which is quite bigger than the amount earned by an average blogger. The statistics reveal that average media personnel receive anything from $32,000 to $40,000 annually while the salary/wage for bloggers vary considerably; but if quantified, it is somewhere between $12,000 to $22,000 a year, depending on the outfits they are working for. This comparison shows an interesting
fact that media executives have enough time to concentrate on their primary jobs without worrying about financial problems. This better incentive will have largely contributed to their full-time devotion to making their jobs perfect in order to let Media’s credibility to remain intact. With similar reasoning, proprietary companies provide enough motivation to their workers by offering them huge salary and other incentives. Incidentally, these incentives can motivate them to work harder and protect the identity or image of their employers and their products. Paraphrasing Aggarwal’s words: “Journalists (or other media workers) can cause their media presses to lose credibility in the face of the public if they are operationally corrupt.” (44). What this signifies is that if journalists or other media workers are hungry and are not properly rewarded, they could report lies and falsify their accounts to the detriment of their presses’ credibility. But the statistics above reveals that higher incentives media executives receive make them stay true to their calling and maintain their integrity, which is credibility-boosting for their employers.
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However, does the idea that blogs are getting more popular these days confirm it possesses more credibility that the media? Can the public ever choose to rely on the kinds of information provided on the blogs more than the ones available in the media? Judging by the popularity of the traditional media ever before the invention of Internet that host the millions of blogs we have today, it is almost impossible to affirm that blogs can displace media on the scale of credibility. Traditional media follow a strict and well-planned code of ethics as they produce the necessary information to the public. The media care seriously
about the nature of their contents in relations to the societal norms and statutes. The media emphasizes on formality on most occasions; informality may creep in when necessarily unavoidable. But the tenet of the media presses is to produce pieces of information that could improve societal wellbeing, knowledge and self-awareness. All these objectives put together constitute what credibility stands for (Aggarwal 63). On the other hand, blogs’ messages are unregulated by any rule or code of ethics: bloggers have been able to express their minds on diverse issues, sometimes hilarious and educative; in some cases, bloggers have gone beyond the level of sanity and delved into racial and seriously hurting messages. Therefore, this high level of freedom of speech has made the information provided on blogs not to be reliable or trustworthy. This is simply because the authors of most blogs lack authority (most of them are not professionals in the fields they seem to blog about), objectivity (blogs are random bickering, not objective in nature) and reliability (blogs can represent the views of a bigoted groups of people and hence not reliable) (Rettberg 91).
The media holds a greater credibility above blogs as proprietary projects like Microsoft, Apple and IBM maintain their credibility in the face of their numerous consumers. Another interesting twist to this observation is that corporate bloggers are doing everything in their power to make blogs appear believable. They are doing so to win the trust of millions of readers as they advertize their products and merchandize to millions of prospective customers (Brown 248-250). The logic is that if our messages are acceptable to the public, they will go for our products. The main question marketing experts are asking is
this: can any amount of effort professional bloggers put in their blogging sway the reposed belief people have already had in media advertisements? The Internet has produced both good and bad outcomes: the political dissidents in Iran utilize the power of blogs to reveal their political persecutions by the governmental agencies to the world; and sadly enough, some advertisers online are actually selling nothing or producing no services, but they are all over the Internet looking for gullible people to deceive and scam. This is a huge blow to the credibility issue, as far as blogs are concerned.
But has blogging had any impacts on the mainstream media in anyway? Biagi believes that the Modern Information Technology has changed the face of traditional media forever, but it also leaves some uncomfortable impacts on the media (Biagi 184-187). The coinage of the term “Mass Media” has put the traditional media practices on serious competition with the so-called citizen media that have been popularized by the power of Internet. Today, there are online newspapers, magazines, journals and so on that stiffly competes with the traditional media outfits for attention and patronage. Now that some traditional media presses are not joining the bandwagon by transferring some of their activities online, but the effects or impacts of these action on the general quality of media outputs are disturbing. Although there is no universal statistics that show how much readership that the traditional media has been losing to blogs, but it is estimated that newspapers lose an astonishing 0.01% of its readership annually to blogs-and this reduction in newspaper readership is steady and will be significant over a long period of
time (Meyer 12). Mass Media, as it is called, sometimes encompasses the traditional media houses, some websites that publish gossip columns, jokes and social commentaries as well as those blogging sites. Hence, the volume of information released to the public make people to be wary of believing everything, since lies are also peddled by some of these mass media outfits (Hirsen and Com 260-281). This case becomes worsen as many traditional media also quote personal blogs to report an incident! As a result of this, it is always difficult now to identify the source of a particular piece of information as the frenzy of the mass media paradigm has captured the hearts of everyone who cares to be abreast of the latest development in our world. No doubt, this negative impact of blogging on the media is not in any way comparable with what is happening between the Open Source project and the Proprietary materials.
Concerning the issue of legal implications of Open Source Project, the users do not necessarily breach the originator’s Intellectual Property Rights, because the users are given the license to access the copyrighted code (Lerner and Tirole 376). Public-modulated blogs also have similar modus operandi, only that the bloggers are given free cyberspace to write their opinions and comments about their likes and dislikes. Interestingly, the Open Source programmers do not necessarily target the quality of the proprietary software, but rather providing the avenues for the people who could not afford to pay for similar proprietary software. Blogs are published by people of all ages, mainly starting among teenagers to the elderly, and they constitute an undeniable threat to the survival of the mainstream media
outfits as explained in the paragraphs above. In order to reduce the level of competition pressure from general bloggers, many traditional media like New York Times, BBC, and The Guardian have blogs for their readers to contribute their views on the main news items for the day. The essence of this is to bridge the gap between blogs and the traditional media outfits.
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The most severe impact of blogs on the traditional media is to the economic losses the later sustain due to the activities of the bloggers. According to the estimates given by Boehlert, media presses lose roughly some billions of dollars to the citizen journalists and bloggers that entirely carry out their operations on the Internet. By going into some activities that were once under the control of the traditional media like advertising, public discourse, job placement, news broadcasting, these bloggers render the executives of media houses redundant as they receive fewer and fewer request for these services year by year (Boehlert 89-101). This condition of losing too much money has encouraged some media houses to operate their blogging avenues so as to reduce the impact of the activities of the bloggers. Unlike general bloggers, those who blog on the famous media houses’ blog are moderated so as to prevent them from destroying the media’s reputation and credibility. This is in sharp contrast to what happens in the free bloggers’ world where there is little or no censorship.
The development of the mainstream media has also been intertwined with the development of the blogs. Today, both the traditional media houses and online bloggers use
the power of Internet to reach billions of readers. This shows that even though both blog and media are conducted in different ways, they target similar audience or readers. By 2050, experts projected that paper media may have disappeared, giving way to online newspapers. This is due to the fact that Internet has drastically reduced the cost of publishing news, marketing and advertising (Gardner 45). Until now, the traditional media have evolved through many developmental stages that include but not restricted to structural transformation, process advancement and new marketing strategies. The major structural transformation that has occurred in the traditional media is in the area of leadership, employment, production and public relations. The previous methods of producing newspapers have passed through some developments in recent years and the quality has improved greatly. Readers can enjoy reading news on a piece of renewable paper that can be recycled to prevent our environment from being destroyed. Similarly, blogging has changed from the general blog-publishing to the point where they have assumed a useful medium of marketing goods/services, advertising, educational and political machineries. In a broader term, Internet is driving both the development of blogs and the traditional media outfits. It is perceived in the same way as the presence of Open Source Projects are helping to popularize some proprietary software that some users may not have known or be aware of because of its expensive price. Both Open Source Projects and proprietary software target similar users in the same market segments.
Both Open Source projects and blogs are like social media apparatus which have two-way communication links: that is, users of Open Source can decide to program or upgrade the software, while those that read a blog can leave their comments for the blogger. This is very interesting in the sense that the collaboration brings about quality and moderation.
On the other hand, the media and the proprietary software do not necessarily appear similar in some ways. While the media is ready to be influenced by the modern innovation through Internet and blogs, proprietary software remains true to its identity. As more and more IT systems are invented, there is every possibility that media will go along with the new inventions to change its statutory operational mode so as to conform to the latest development in information dissemination.
However, it is left to be seen how much influence blogs and latest Internet technology will have on the traditional media in the long run. Will the media houses completely turn their services to online medium whereby paper production is no more necessary? Will such attempts have any impact on the media’s credibility? Will readers be comfortable with reading online, and not just flipping through the pages of newspapers, as it has been for ages past?
Structural development at the media houses points to the fact that the traditional media is actually absorbing all new technologies to improve its output, production, and the dissemination of information-its primary obligation. The employees of traditional media
houses are also in a tight competition with bloggers as they try all hard to identify themselves with correct reportage that could be relied upon. This credibility war has been increased lately as many unauthorized online newspapers appear to readers, competing with the traditional houses for attention. So far, the media houses have been able to distinguish themselves as the main source of verifiable information, which the public can rely on without the fear of taking in falsehood.
It is unimaginable to believe that there will be some forms of collaboration in the future between Open Source projects and the proprietary software. There are several reasons why this may not be possible: first, for economic considerations, the proprietors definitely know that they may lose a lot of money parleying up Open Source projects; second, the issue of distinct identity may be under a serious threat-it will be difficult for Microsoft to maintain its unique brand because of joining forces with an Open Source Project. How about some future collaboration between the traditional media and the bloggers? From all indications, there may be some sort of collaborations between bloggers and traditional media houses in the future as they both try to work out modalities to reduce operational competition between them. The media could hire bloggers to do some assignments for them; bloggers could rely on the media houses to publicize their sites to the public. However, the relationship may be that cordial as expected because the competition between them will not disappear overnight.
In conclusion, the traditional media as well as blogs have impacted our world in different but similar ways; however, the credibility of the information in traditional media still ranks higher than that available in the blogs. This is because the bloggers are not moderated nor censored-some of the information they pass across to the public is perverted, bigoted and sometimes misleading. Though, it is interesting to notice that both blogs and media are influencing the outcomes of each other, but the cheapness of the blogs has put traditional media on the competitive track, losing 0.01% of its readership to blogs annually (Meyer 12): traditional media have even crossed over to the Internet to slug it out with the blogs. And it is not good news to the owners of media houses as Internet make them lose a lot of money in a year due to marketing, advertising and other services previously provided by the traditional media. The bloggers may be having a better edge over the media houses due to the fact that they don’t have to spend a lot to carry out their activities using the cheapness of the Internet. Media houses may be looking at future collaboration with the bloggers so as to reduce the effects of the hot competition between them. This step is necessary for media houses to keep abreast of the development in the IT industry and apply it to its operational activities.
The reality of this whole issue is that the public may not be able to separate the traditional media from ordinary bloggers in the near future, because both of them have crossed each other path, and will continue to do so.