Internet, especially social media has impacted the traditional media in a mutually contradictory way. Contemporary media is cashing on the benefits of exciting opportunities which have grown out of the internet. Simultaneously, it is also troubled because of the changing preferences and interests of the readers, and their contracting time availability. This is leading to a suspicion about its future.
The technology has facilitated an easier search of the news and its writing, processing, publishing and distributing. The search for reference material is no more an issue. If one has internet, one can analyse the issue from all angles and perspective. Twitter signals the latest news, and rest are found on Facebook and WhatsApp. It is now easy to have people’s opinion. And all of this is available to every journalist who has internet access. Printing technology has become inexpensive and computers have transformed the designing.
In these circumstances, one way in which one journalist or a newspaper can be differentiated from the other is only by a sense of news delivery art, writing style, analytical skill, and command on the subject and maturity. One can do away with Nicholas Carr’s observation that internet is steadily slowing down our heads, but still the significance of an original writing, original thinking and epistemology is intact. Internet has shown new ways and means for advertising and income to the traditional media. Internet portal, Youtube Channel, e-paper, mobile app and lots more, are important trading dimensions. On the other hand, the popularity of newspapers, magazines and television channels in their traditional format is in jeopardy. New challenges are continuously coming to fore. Many newspapers and magazines in the Western world have either shut down or have shifted fully online. The trend for news is changing. There have been continuous reports that internet is becoming the primary medium for news.
The velocity of change is so rapid even on the internet, that one is not sure that the trends of today may continue tomorrow, let alone the traditional media. The detailed and vast news articles are now being threatened by short and brief news items which can be read on smaller mobile phone screens. One may have looked through a mobile app called “inshorts” where lengthier news items are shortened within sixty words only. The threat is more because these short news items are becoming more popular.
A website named Wine only features video clips of five seconds, and it lists among the most popular websites around the world. Look at the Twitter. The site offering merely 140 characters message seem to be challenging other mediums of mass communication. Breaking news around the world seems to trend first on the Twitter.
WhatsApp has also emerged as a popular option for readable- visual- and audible news. News is also being read on Facebook a lot. There is now a challenge in front of print and electronic media to survive for relevance against these innovative technologies. And there can be two ways to face this challenge, firstly, openness towards new technologies and trends, and secondly, having faith on the fundamental tenets of journalism.
(The writer is a senior journalist and media expert)