About Me

If you want to get a different perspective on my journey, try this blog from Zac. A friend I'm travelling with. zacstravelcolours.wordpress.com

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

New vs old media. Why it's an unfair fight.

Every day, more and more people use the internet as their major source of news. Newspaper circulation is dropping, TV viewing figures are falling and the iPod has all but killed the radio yet news websites continue to see their page views sky rocket. There are two major reasons for this: convenience and interactivity.

As smartphone ownership continues to grow, more and more people carry the internet with them in their pocket. This is hugely significant for online news consumption. All the people who are too busy to sit down and read the paper every morning or watch the evening news can now read the headlines while they’re on the bus (Pulse is a great examples of news on the go and many news organisations have their own apps). The same goes for radio. Those who prefer to listen to their own music instead of the same canned garbage over and over again on the radio can listen to any of the days stories with a mouse clickThe entire internet is available 24/7 with no program scheduling or ad breaks, most of the content is free. I'd like to say there's also much less Bieber and Taylor Swift, but that would be a lie.

The second reason people are flocking to the internet for their news is that it has an inherent advantage over the old news delivery mediums. The one thing TV, newspapers and radio have in common is an editor, or producer, program director etc. The name changes but the role is always the same. This person chooses what you view. If they don’t think it’s newsworthy, it won’t be published or broadcast. Spencer Howson informs me this is what's known as a Zero Sum Game, for one article to be included, another must miss out.

The problem with this model is not everyone considers the same things newsworthy.  Someone who’s interested in the latest round of Masterchef gossip may not be interested in the developments in the US debt ceiling crisis; but by the same token, they might be. It is impossible for an editor to gauge what each individual member of their audience would consider newsworthy, and even if they could, there’s not a lot they can do with the results. Because of this, TV and radio news bulletins often have at least as much irrelevant content as relevant. Newspapers give the reader a much wider choice of content but lose out when it comes to multimedia integration.

The internet is the place where all the best aspects of the old mediums come together. The reader has an almost infinite choice when it comes to what to read, exponentially greater than what is available in even the biggest of newspapers. Additionally, if an article could benefit from multimedia in any way, it can be included with the click of a button (it took me literally five seconds to add the above video, less time than it took to typ this sentence!). Essentially, the internet is an interactive news medium whereas the old delivery methods are passive. If someone sees something interesting on the evening news and they want more information, they have to hope for a follow up story the following night.  Alternatively, they can reach for their phone, tablet or computer and Google it to find out more. The internet enables people to control how, when, where and what news they absorb. It’s no wonder radio, TV and newspapers are struggling to keep up.

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