What has been the impact of the internet on the authority of traditional media such as television, radio and print?
The development of the internet has been very dramatic in the last few decades. The internet is said to have gained much attention in its unstoppable development. It is said that the role of the internet in the flow of information has created a sense of “new era in communication” (Croteau & Hoynes, 2003, p. 3). This sophistication also allows people to access new information and knowledge about the world and the way people live their lives. According to Holmes, 2005, p. 2), people who use the internet “not only encounter and use information and communication technology”, but also “their modes of action are enframed by these technology”. However, in regards to its impact on traditional media, the internet is seen as threat that will eventually take over the role of traditional media. This is a big issue where the first media age is now encountering challenges to win back their audience and even to survive from extinction. Some people certainly believe that since the invention of the internet, the first media age is starting to lose its dominant roles as the major source of information for public.
It is the contention of this essay to examine the positive and negative impacts of the internet on broadcast media. This paper will firstly examine the positive impacts of the internet in terms of the creation of information or network society. The second part of this paper will discuss the negative aspect of the internet on traditional media in regards to the decline of audiences and the loss of broadcasts’ dominance.
In the first place, internet is somewhat different from traditional broadcast media. According to Yoon and Kim (2001), there are some aspects that distinguish the internet from broadcasting. There are no restrictions in terms of “delivery of information beyond time and space”, the source of information is unlimited, as well as the ability to focus on specific group of people. Internet is faster in the way it distributes the information through the “digitalisation and electrification” of the message (Poster, 1995, p. 3).
The internet proposes the idea of “communication of many to many in chosen time on a global scale” (Castells, 2003, p. 2). This allows people to have a sense of freedom by which they can express their thoughts and feelings. This is different from what broadcasts media are doing in relation to one speaks to many, where senders choose the information and meanwhile the receivers absorb everything that they get from the media (Negroponte, 1995; Poster 1995). Interactivity is another opportunity that the internet provides for the users. The existence of social network such as facebook, twitter and online forum give the citizens opportunity to participate in online discussion and interact with other people. Through these kind of social networks, the process of “narrowcasting” is formulated in which people can “choose and respond” to particular information within their interests without getting any interferences from others (Yoon & Kim, 2001, p. 53; Gilder, 1992, p. 149; Croteau & Hoynes, 2003, p. 12).
Furthermore, the remarkable development of the internet creates an idea of “information revolution” of society, whereby information is free and available to all the people around the world (Given, 1998). Individuals are now more powerful and considerably have access to a new dimension of information, knowledge and experience where they themselves can be independent media producers (Geidner, 2006, p. 342). An example of this matter would be the role of youtube, where people specifically young citizens, can create their own video content as well as uploading them to be shared to the rest of the world. This opportunity can contribute to the changing of users self perception and identity towards themselves and also determining their own destiny (Giddens, 1991; Lull, 2006; Moores, 2005, McRobbie, 2006, cited in Geidner, 2006, p. 343).
The use of the internet in obtaining information has become very fashionable because people can get the information in more flexible and convenient ways. Moreover, some authors concur that two thirds of news consumers use online news resources and the World Wide Web to seek information and this number is increasing as audiences will demand more and more news websites(Conley & Lamble, 2006; Foust, 2005; Fallows, 2004, cited in Westerwick, Sharma, Hansen & Alter, 2005). However, traditional information resources will then encounter the fact that online media is now taking control over the news reporting.
The negative impacts of the internet on traditional media are truly evident. There are a lot of predictions on the extinction of traditional media (Nguyen, 2006). Nguyen states that the role of the internet as a powerful medium of information is now taking over the dominance of traditional media industries since 1990s. According to Gilder (1992), television will soon give its way to the computer, because most people spend more time searching online news websites rather than watching TV (Conley & Lamble, 2006). Furthermore, the establishment of digital or satellite television in America, Europe, Asia and Latin America in 1980s has created a sophisticated network that challenges the conventional television (Castells, 1996). Castells argue that this development has formulated a huge television network, where the number of satellite television is increasing rapidly. This has also lead to the development of HDTV where people can enjoy good quality of images and texts through the installation of the internet into television.
The newspaper in the past was arguably the most powerful medium that could reach a huge of audiences. However, today’s newspapers have lost their dominant role. According to Franklin (2008, cited in Cole & Harcup, 2010), some particular newspapers no longer exist, while others survive on one edition per day. Furthermore, the decline of newspapers shows that newspapers are losing their readership due to the dominant role of online media (Franklin 2008, cited in Cole & Harcup, 2010; Curtice and Mair, 2008, cited in Cole & Harcup, 2010). Kawamoto (2003) adds that printed newspapers will continue to lose readers but they will potentially survive if they can embrace new technology and restructure their organization and content, so their readers will find them relevant and topical. Gilder (1992) states that the online newspaper is far more beneficial compared to the print version because online newspaper provides the readers with further detailed of information and links that are relevant to the particular stories and events. With one simple click, information is available to readers.
There are many predictions that the daily printed newspapers will disappear over the next few years. In contrast, Cole & Harcup (2010; Dizard, 2000) state that the newspaper is not dead, but rather is just in shock. They are adjusting their style, contents and design to the new technology that they encounter in the news environment. Newspapers are going through a transition or even evolving into completely different forms. Newspapers are on the Internet, and online newspapers have become a trend amongst people. The consumers are generally young people and relevant to those who are under thirty years of age (Morgan 2006, as cited in Cole and Harcup, 2010). It is very important that the investigating nature of newspapers is not lost but preserved and maintained as they evolve.
Similarly, radio is also losing its listeners because nowadays people prefer to browse the internet or listen to online news. There used to be lots of journalism crossover with this media. Howeever, Starkey & Crisell, (2009) argue that since the internet is now able to provide information from the previous day which the radio cannot, people are now turning their habits of listening to the radio over the internet. Even though it is said that radio is losing its readership, there are still people who are consistent in consuming this media. In the UK for example, 91 percent of the citizen are still listening to radio every week (Chantler & Stewart, 2009). Due to the existence of the internet, radio is now available in the forms of digital radio, cable and satellite radio and internet radio.
In conclusion, the internet plays a pivotal role in spreading information to public. The flexibility of the internet allows people to break the time and space boundaries in both accessing and sharing new message to other people and the rest of the world. People are now more knowledgeable and independent in creating their own information through online broadcast. This will give the public freedom to choose and determine their own pathway of living, as well as allowing them to be creative in the media environment. However, this sophistication of information is seen as a hindrance and threat to broadcast media. It is said that traditional journalism media is at the edge of extinction and will not survive unless they can embrace new technology and restructure the content to be more topical and relevant in these information age. In order to keep the traditional media on air, there needs to be a proper regulation on the way people consume the media. Therefore, traditional media can still produce the contents and maintain its existence as source of information, so that the coming generation can still witness and enjoy the experience that the traditional media has to offer.
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