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The age of new media paradigms

Barrett Lyon's graphical visualisation of the internet

Those who write about the changes in the perpetual tumult of the messages conveyed by the media, have no choice but to agree to a compromise. If they decide to write from the angle of their own profession, their viewpoint will be slightly autistic, full of professional cliches, even rudely and obviously removed from the "picture" they are trying to describe. On the other side, if they attempt to perceive these changes from multiple points of view, they risk creating only a generalized and boring story.

It sounds perhaps too plain-spoken, but money, interests and needs lie behind these changes. When a journalist discusses developments in the media, it often leads to an almost unionized story, since the traditional journalists are most threatened by these changes. Technological gurus will try to convince you that all that is new is good. But if that were always the case, retro styles would not have become fashionable again. On the other side, such geeks are those who stand to profit the most from these changes.

You will easily recognize (media) hedonists when you visit their homes and find copies of newspapers or some other reading materials in their bathrooms. Their shower would have a radio built-in. Those who adore all things new will certainly recommend this year's miracle – iPad (or a similar gadget) because it is so convenient to use while sitting. The environmentally aware will easily calculate how many trees you have killed if you still read print editions.

In the process of understanding media changes, one of the obstacles is the effort needed to understand the phenomenon of the Internet. Above all, the Internet is the infrastructure, while on the secondary position is everything that is conveyed by that infrastructure: the web, radio (sound), TV (IPTV, video), social services or anything that is being launched by innovative start-ups. Further, from the point of view of consumers, it has turned out that the information consumed on the internet has the strength of TV, speed of the radio and permanence of newspapers.

It is all too easy to make a mistake and think of the Internet as the web (i.e. only web sites) that interacts only via computers and web browsers (like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome...) simply because this is the most frequent usage paradigm. One of the consequences of such view of the Internet is the fact that in today's Serbia, even in the media outlets with national coverage, correspondents often report live in the programme using phone lines. Such reports are typically characterized by bland and distorted voices, together with buzzes and noise from local landline phone networks. Technology allows better and more interesting ways of reporting, at almost the came price.

If we only scratch the surface of the media that are better adapted to these changes, and who view the Internet as an infrastructure, it is easy to notice the so-called convergence... or, even better, the internetization of the traditional media. The designers will probably argue that this is the essence of the new media – that newspapers should look like web sites and that the text shown on TV should have the same background color as the web pages...

Of course, the changes are not only of technological nature. The appearance of social media was allowed by the Internet's infrastructure, but it was mainly caused by the needs of society. The reputation of traditional media has been threatened since their reports began looking like statements of PR agencies, with the media becoming advocates of certain organizations. On the other side, readers, viewers and listeners need their own advocates, they need someone to defend their interest. This is why in come niches of society blogs have more influence than national televisions: such blogs may publish the most relevant information about, for example, lines in a certain bank, especially compared to a media outlet that also advertises the same bank.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp, but broad and wide-ranging analysis of the changes in the media scene will allow more successful adaptation to such changes.

Stevan Majstorovic

About the authors

MC Newsletter, August 27, 2010

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