Can you spot the difference between new media and traditional media? The traditional media consists of prints and broadcasts such as newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasting books and CDs etc. On the other hand, social media, which grows with technology, includes the use of Twitter, social networks as well as blogs -using internet as a platform. Not only has advanced technology facilitated internet consumption, it has also promoted new media to the extent that majority now believe new media will one day succeed traditional media. New media has the foundations of traditional media in serving the same purpose, similar procedures in gathering information and sharing the same audiences; however, it may succeed traditional media due to the differences in the freedom of speech, coupled with social networking services entitled to users and the hastened speed broadcasting.
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The purpose of new media is very much built on the traditional media. Both new media and traditional media have the same objective – to keep you informed. It does not matter if you read a newspaper or magazine, or even webzines, also known as e-newsletters. Both media platforms serve to provide news and articles to inform you of the happenings around the world. Books you find in libraries and online communities like Wikipedia offer you bits of facts for your general knowledge, providing basic knowledge on certain topics. We are also alerted about fashion trends through both media platforms. The television programme, Entertainment Channel, is no different from the fashion website, Chictopia, in providing insights to the latest fashion trends. (The People’s Fashion Destination – Chictopia, 2010) Besides global news, the information both new media and traditional media provides extends to advertisements as well. Both media platforms provide advertorial information for readers of prints, broadcasts and the online community. When you flip through a consumer magazine, you will notice advertisements on jewellery, cosmetics and even clothes on different pages. Similarly, banners and pop-ups on various websites you visit are methods of advertisements on the internet.
Even though advertisements account for 70% of the revenue produced by newspapers, there has been a declined in the printing of newspapers due to lack of advertisements. (G. E. Belch & M. A. Belch, 2004, p. 392) The truth is technology has made internet a better alternative for marketing and advertising. Thus, companies tend to use internet platforms over print or broadcast media to achieve branding. Based on website Clickz, each one of us receives an estimate of 5000 commercial messages daily. (Massey, 2010) However, it is impossible to view 1000 advertisements from the number of newspapers or magazines that we read, inclusive of advertisements on televisions and radios. Therefore, new media might exceed old media with the use of technology, as can be seen from the ease of advertising.
Another similarity in traditional media that extends to new media is the tedious method of gathering information, drafting and proofreading. In order for the newspaper readers and e-newsletter viewers to obtain only the correct news, newspaper companies engage reporters, journalists and editors in order to print a factual article without mistakes. (U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, 2010) Similarly, to uphold reputation as well as to ensure that the electronic sources tally with the printed media, a piece of article has to go through the same procedure in order to be published. (Simmons, 2009) The strenuous practice of gathering information is also used in broadcast media to produce drama serials and videos of new media. Television programmes and videos posted online require many takes and much editing for the final product. (Duncan, 2010) Television series as well as short clips online from BBC News, National Geographic etc, have to go through a long process of inspection before it is ready to be broadcasted on air or uploaded on their websites. In an interview on George Negus Tonight, it was estimated that a television advertisement may take up to three months, requiring 100 people. The process includes generation of concepts, pitching the idea, developing a script and writing a storyboard before filming can take place. (George Negus Tonight, 2003)
Despite the problematic procedures, technology has smoothened these processes, making new media superior to old media. An example would be Google Docs which allows users to share their work online and make revisions together with others at the same time. This saves time as a report can be completed faster. However, this requires internet as a platform and tends to promote new media, emphasizing its functions over old media.
Both media platform serve the same target audience be it online, in print or broadcast. As mentioned, each form of media has an objective which is to disseminate a particular message and keep the masses informed. However, for those whom purposes resemble each other, they have same target audience to cater to and thus, garnering the same audience. Readers of fashion magazines such as Style or Vogue are most likely to be the avid viewers of fashion sites like Lookbook. In a similar way, readers of forums and the home section of local newspapers are most likely to be blog-hoppers. Furthermore, ardent fans of the broadcast media such as television and radio are likely to be audiences of new media such as Youtube. If you find yourself watching music videos on MTV, you are most likely to subscribe to Youtube or Hulu channels like Vevo that plays music videos online for fans. Both new media and traditional media serving the same purpose would therefore engage the same target audience.
In addition, technology has made replaying, fast-forwarding and rewinding of videos much easier. Imagine trying to rewind the music video that you are currently watching on MTV, you would probably have to purchase the pay-per-view offer, also known as On-Demand. The next best alternative would be to watch the video on Youtube and have it replayed over and over again, or just that particular segment that you like. The ease of video watching can be seen from the 2 billion views daily based on Youtube statistics. (Website Monitoring, 2010) Such flexibility in technology generates more audience towards new media even if both media platforms were providing the same video, song or news article.
Although new media shares similarities with traditional media, new media appears to be an “improved” version of old media. Out of the many differences, an obvious one is the magnitude in freedom of speech exercised in new media versus traditional media. Before the print media is disseminated to the masses, the editors would have vetted and censored, following strict laws that applies. In Singapore’s radio broadcasting network, deejay duo also known as “The Muttons” were suspended due to their participation in No Bra Day. It was an activity that required young female models to remove their bras in the shortest possible time. The video taken in the studio was posted on YouTube and the station was fined due to inappropriate content. (98.7FM Encyclopaedia Topics, 2008) On the contrary, it is almost impossible to censor all articles or advertisements on the website; only users in social media can be banned. Youtube reports hundreds of thousands of videos are being uploaded every day. (Youtube, 2010) With videos being uploaded at such an alarming rate, it stresses the difficulty in censoring contents.
Undeniably, technology has improved almost every aspect of media development. Its failure to make censorship across the board available, however, allows netizens to speak up. Yet, this apparent freedom of speech which is only made available through internet appears to promote opposition of various political stances and an eye-opener to liberal views. Especially with people more acceptable of liberal mindsets, freedom of speech is censored in old media will result in technology will garnering more supporters of new media.
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Although both media platforms serve to keep you informed of news, social media has an added feature that allows users to network. With traditional media, there is no room for networking. You would have noticed advertisers leaving their contact number. However, you would only contact them to only engage or enquiry about a deal. Seldom would you notice an ad which purpose is to look for a friend or a wife. More importantly, you would not publish your address for snail mails or provide your contact number for interested members of the public to call you. There is no opportunity to discuss or socialised since everything is publicised. On the other hand, based on references gather by the website Pingdom, there are 350 million people on Facebook as of January 2010. (Pingdom, 2010) Facebook, similar to Friendster has not only made social networking easier as users can add friends whom share common interests but has also improved the search for long lost friends. Furthermore, there is a privacy setting which you can adjust, allowing you to provide information to only people whom you want to. This allows you to form a connection with a stranger before committing in a friendship. New media also offers interactive activities such as game communities or internet chat relays. Through these game communities, players can gather teammates for online gaming and establish stronger relationships with strangers. Whereas chatting alone helps introverts make friends without having to meet people in the real world. (What’s New Media?, 2010)
Although these contributions by technology are seemingly beneficial, social networking through new media has increased crime rates, often acted against minors. Paedophiles are known to use social network sites to prey on victims. They are able to do so as they can remain anonymous or adopt false personalities that would not be validated. (William-Thomas, 2009) Perhaps, social networking is the only bane of new media which most internet users embrace as reason for new media to succeed traditional media.
Lastly, another improvement can also be seen from the extremely shortened publication time for new media. Publication time differs from the aforementioned methods of gathering and refers to the time it takes for the end product to reach out to the masses. As mentioned, it takes reporters, journalists and editors to create an article on the newspaper, making the process of getting a written article printed very long. Even if the information is ready for dissemination, the newsletter has not been printed and thus cannot be distributed. Furthermore once erred, it takes half or a day to correct the error and send an apology letter for the mistake or post an article the next day. If a mistake is made on a newspaper article, the journalist has to prepare an apology letter or a new article for the paper tomorrow, informing readers of the errata. On the contrary, with new media, it only takes the author a click of the button to have any information disseminated around the world on the World Wide Web. Although there are specific rules to follow if a reputable site makes an error, it does not require more than a day to have its entry edited on the site. When an error is made, the author can simply press “edit” and “post” again. Or in Twitter, you can simply delete your Tweet, another name for your entry, and post again. The convenience can be experienced when you upload a video on Youtube. After all the tedious filming and editing, all you need to do is to click on your computer screen is the word “upload”. Similarly for online news articles, a simple click is all it takes to have it published on a website.
Moreover, the internet has become more mobile with technology and people around the world are choosing to read news online instead. If you do recall the 2007 Burmese anti-government attacks, had it not been for the internet, history would have repeated and we would have been misinformed of the total death toll, similar to the uprising in 1988. (Sai, 2008) The use of the internet through blogging of pictures taken in Burma allowed traditional media in other countries to cover the attacks. Similarly in today’s context, information is readily available to us with the shortened publication time in new media compared to old media, all thanks to technology.
The new media and traditional media are similar in their purposes, procedures and target audience. However, they differ in publication time, availability to networking and censorship. Both serve to keep their viewers informed and involve tedious procedures before getting the end product. Also, serve the same target audience be it electronic or print. However, with the drastic increase in internet users, social media has minimal censorship as it is unachievable with the vast volume of websites, unlike traditional media. Furthermore, new media tends disseminate messages faster than traditional media due to the short time needed in posting. Lastly, it provides opportunities for users to socialise and network.
New media has its foundations built on traditional media and definitely has improved services and caters to the generations born in the era of technology. They key success, if new media is to ever succeed traditional media, is advanced technology in internet. Although social networking through new media has increased crime rates, it is one of the shortcomings that can be eradicated. With technology, new media has definitely exceeded the abilities of traditional media as an advertising alternative and smoothened the process of gathering concrete information for news articles. Ease in obtaining information and flexibility has also encouraged traditional media followers to convert to new media. With technology backing new media, is it possible traditional media will one day cease to exist?