It is not a contention that internet has created a single medium where million s of people from different parts of the world can share information. However, its accessibility means it is not business as usual for players in media and journalism industry. Over the past few years, much has changed in terms of how people interact. Technology has played an integral in shaping the character of news. The field of journalism has indeed undergone what can as well be termed as revolution. In the United States, the invention of printing technology ushered in the era of production of mass newspapers that were not expensive.
This invention occurred in the 1830s. Later on, telegraph and news wire services were conceived in the mid nineteenth century. This shaped the way news was presented. Then came portable cameras at the end of the nineteenth century. The press then became more intrusive. In fact, the press was considered to have strayed into the zone of personal privacy where it traditionally could not venture into previously. Twentieth century witnessed rapturous technological inventions that still influence modern and contemporary journalism to date.
Film, radio, and television came into being and these changed how news was gathered and presented. In fact, they revolutionized how people viewed and understood current events. Observers have opined that the coverage of political campaigns by televisions is the most important factor in elections that are conducted in the United States (Mitchell, 1988, 12).
The role that internet has played in print media and journalism since its invention in the 1990’s has been immense. On the onset of the decade, few journalists wanted to be associated with internet where as fewer had heard of it. However, come 1994, some journalists had predicted that internet would ultimately change the way they go about their work. It is not a surprise that by 1997, the internet became an integral part of the practice of journalism (Zhao and Resh, 2001, 103).
Many aspects of journalism have greatly changed because of internet. It has become a medium of publication, notwithstanding a tool for reporting. It has also become a new focus for journalistic education. Questions have been raised with regard to social responsibilities of journalists to inform the public as well as the ethical practice of journalism (Schudson, 1978, 29). Moreover, because the internet has become an international media, questions have been raised to the effect of its impacts around the globe.
The invasiveness of internet especially in the spheres of journalism has made it a topic of discussion among scholars, journalists, and the general public. This essay seeks to elaborate on the impacts of internet on print media and journalism while in the process stating the advantages and disadvantages of both internet and print media. The essay will conclude by concisely stating whether the internet or the print media will have more scope in future.
Personal position on the impact of internet on print media and journalism
Information and communication technology has greatly impacted form and practice of journalism. Changes that were witnessed technologically led to changes in newspaper page layout in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Emergence of tabloids was occasioned by high-speed photography (Sian, 1996, 67). The coming into fore of motion pictures led to the conception of newsreels. Reporting practices have so far been impacted by the coming of new technology. The introduction of the phone completely created a new job category: the re-write person, who was again eliminated when reporters initiated a culture of reporting from office or in all, devised mechanisms of transmitting stories from the field (Bell, 1973, 80).
The coming of the telegraph and satellite made transmission of news even quicker hence a greater premium on timelines and witnessing news. People who were not physically present at a place where an event unfolded could actually watch all the undertakings from their television monitors. The internet has since emerged as a medium of publication just like newspapers and television. In modern times, the internet has been used in reporting (Agnew, 1994, 56).
Internet has in equal share impacted the teaching and practice of journalism. Internet has had far-reaching ramifications on key segments of the news audience. Surveys that have been conducted suggest that news users have lost the news habit. Traditional media and especially broadcast news outlets have greatly been impacted by the emergence of internet (Zhao and Resh, 2001, 106). The younger and better educated people have embraced the internet with so much gusto. College graduates have taken to the internet like the duck takes to the waters. In fact, they connect more regularly to the internet more than they watch network news broadcasts. Radio and print outlets have started realizing the negative effects of internet.
The danger that the internet poses to traditional sources of news is that the public’s appetite for news is slowly declining. Because the internet allows for news updates, it has become more attractive to younger news consumers. Those with larger appetite for news are lured to the internet because of its ability to provide more depth on a subject. That is why professionals, executives, and managers adore the internet. People with access to this technology stand are able to get information pertaining to business and financial matters. The web has relegated traditional media from its periphery of being the leading source of stock quotes and investment advice.
Because consumers of information entirely rely on internet for news, they have also come to believe that online news sources are more credible (Breivik and Gee, 1989, 54). Despite the fact that the way some sites collect their news raises a lot of concern, consumers of internet news generally believe they are credible. Internet news from well-known organizations like the CNN and ABC has higher approval ratings from users of internet than traditional broadcast or print outlets. However, having familiar names greatly helps as evidenced by lower ratings internet news sources like Yahoo, Netscape, and America News Channel get compared to websites of traditional news organizations. Internet news organizations that provide original content like Slate and Salon.com are unfortunately less well known.
The internet is likely to lead to writing and reading renaissance because of the emergence of text to be the main mode of communication. News websites stand to engage the readers through the text. People who visit news sites get attracted by the text first and not photos or graphics. The briefs or captions get the initial eye fixation when pages first come up. The eyes then rove back to photos or graphics after readers have clicked away to a full article before returning to the first page. When high speed internet connection is used, where photos and graphics are displayed faster readers still tend to focus on the text. This is a total departure from a popular belief that newspaper readers first focus on photos then the text.
Small size of photos and graphics do not immediately grab the reader’s attention as the large artwork does in print newspapers. Online news users tend to skip back and forth between news sites contrasted to staying longer in a given site. With the invention of the internet, journalists have been forced to think of news in three-dimensional perspective where news is not just accessed in traditional left to right and top to bottom, but also include photos or brief video to the news. Story telling in online journalism has since evolved and users are now thought of in a new level.
A journalist can write a captivating story but when no one can move through it clearly and quickly, the work may be futile. Television story telling techniques was developed from the radio. However, the internet employs old story telling technique: the circa 1949, without developing new ones. News sites in the web are slowly incorporating multimedia enhancements and just like the mass culture of television in the 1960’s, the digital news both engenders seductive and repellant features. The content of online news is not any different from the print or broadcast news because same facts are presented. The only difference lies in time scale because online news is constantly updated (Carey, 1989, 32).
Countries with conservative media landscape like Singapore are witnessing immense changes because people are now able to access information from increasing myriad sources. For purposes of remaining viable in overly competitive news industry, traditional print and broadcast news agencies have initiated mechanism to meet the challenge of news dissemination. In such systems it has become a requirement that news medium be mastered to ensure true content synergy. Methods of communication like text, video, and sound are quite irrelevant in this perspective.
News story telling techniques have been acquired as well as the approach of communicating this information regardless of the tools to be used. Because internet has changed the way a lot of issues are conducted in the print and broadcast media journalists, editors, and information designers are contemplating turning information into useful knowledge. The advent of customized packages has ensured that online news sites only give users better choices and informational experiences. Latest news has been christened latest updates. Journalists have in fact shifted from simply presenting information to editing content appropriate to the medium.
The web has indeed offered journalists and editors the flexibility that is required in presenting in depth information when the time permits (Carey, 1989). Journalists have since become innovative. They can moreover create interactive graphical timelines. Cross platform synergy in some media houses has changed the physical layout of news establishments and led to establishment of integrated command center where online and television editors work in concert. Online news has ensured that users get latest updated news simultaneously (Reddick, 1994, 7).
It is known that traditional media have over the years been committed to accuracy. They seek to carry this reputation to the web. Online news cannot afford to compromise accuracy, balance, and fairness that are good tenets of traditional journalism. If they do then they stand to loose the following that they currently command. It is a norm that when news breaks, nobody bothers to go to web sites they have never heard of. Their stopping point would be the branded sites that have been set up by established media like the CNN, USAToday, and ABC News.
Credibility of news from a site is determined by the line that exists between advertising and editorial. Advertising co-exists and at times takes relegates news to unfamiliar territories on the web page. Concerns are being raised owing to the blurred line between advertising and editorial content online. This calls for the initiation of editorial ethics when news sites belong to renowned news organizations (Yau and Al-Hawamdeh, 2001, para. 3).
There are fears that news posted online may be inaccurate compared to traditional print. In fact, the speed of internet has eroded the key standard of accurately verifying the facts of a story before it is put for public consumption. This is owed to lack of full time staff embers. This shortage of staff interferes with checking and verification process.
Online news accuracy is particularly impacted by staffing and training inadequacies. Online journalists should establish and adhere to ethics protocol that is specially designed for online news. Facts corroborated by online news should also be checked and clear and consistent placements of corrections and clarifications be made. Ads that appear on same page with editorials should be labeled. Finally, chat rooms and community bulletin boards ought to be policed (Yau and Al-Hawamdeh, 2001, para. 1).
Will the internet or the print media have more scope in future?
It is true that the use of computers to process and disseminate information and capacity of technology to enhance communication across time and space have changed the mass communication model. In fact, digital transmission of text, audio, and video has transformed traditional communication model. Audiences have in effect become producers and consumers of information. However, neither internet nor print media is likely to give way to one another. Speech did initiate what the print and writing is continuing. Digital media will only move communication from orality and literacy to computers. The internet only serves to move this to the next level without rendering anything obsolete (Yau and Al-Hawamdeh, 2001, para. 2).
Advantages and disadvantages of both internet and print media
Advantages of print media
Some observers contend that print media is still one of the flourishing industries because of its ability to reach target audience for advertisers. Some of the advantages that print media has over other media are that newspapers and magazines command loyal readership and are quite often preferred by advertisers as opposed to the internet. It is very easier to use print media to target a particular geographical area. Print media also makes it easier to choose the size of the advertisement space. This is imperative when budget of the expenses to be incurred while advertising is to be calculated. Certain forms of media have very loyal following hence advantageous for ad readership. Because newspapers and magazines are always in the eyes of the public they make them an ideal location for advertising (Lad, 2010, para.1).
Disadvantages of print media
Considering the medium chosen, print media can be an expensive medium. Other than cost, they have a very short shelf life. Once somebody has gone through a newspaper, it becomes a preserve of the archives. The print media does not reach very large group of people who read the message they try to convey. Sometimes they may not be accessible every time to the target group hence a possibility of people missing the message that was intended for them, unlike the internet. Advertising in print media has to be planned in advance hence lack of flexibility when one is faced with strict deadlines (Lad, 2010, para. 4).
Pros and cons of internet over print media
The internet is most interactive and this makes users to access information from different news organization to get the angle a story is taking. However, internet still grapples with credibility issues due to ease of accessibility (Mallard, 2011, para. 1).
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