Home Introduction to mass communication THE NEW MEDIA: ONLINE NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES, INTERNET RADIO ETC

THE NEW MEDIA: ONLINE NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES, INTERNET RADIO ETC

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1.0 INTRODUCTION

This unit introduces the students to the New Media, a new aspect of the mass media. The unit specifically examines the following:

  1. The internet 
  2. Internet Radio 
  3. Online Newspaper 
  4. Online Magazine 

2.0 OBJECTIVES

At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  1. explain what the internet is
  2. have a good understanding of the meaning and concept of internet radio
  3. clearly explain the concepts of newspapers and magazines.

3.0 MAIN CONTENT

3.1The New Media

The New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as Internet brought to limelight the phenomenon of the new (online) media. The online media is otherwise known as the new media because it is a departure from the old or conventional media of radio, TV, newspaper and magazine. The internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) have been a significant part of journalism since at least 1994. Hall (2001:2) (as cited in Rodin) notes that Reuters routinely serves 2,700 pages of data every second of every day to a potential market of over 200 million regular Web users. Rudin et al assert that news and information is one of the main reasons people use the Internet, with one survey showing that 40 per cent used the medium to give them more background on a story than had been available through press or broadcasting.

Since the Daily Telegraph made its content available online, being the first UK national newspaper that went online, people have become increasingly aware of the need to patronize online journalism and as such, Internet usage at home and at work is also expanding rapidly in the world over, especially in the developing world. According to a survey in 2001, about 40 per cent of all household (in UK) had internet access – an increase of 4 million in just 12 months – and people were spending over 7 hours a week ‘surfing’ the Internet from home. Furthermore, most of those who had taken up the Internet had opted for an unlimited access scheme – which means they can stay online for as long as they want without incurring extra charges (oftel, 2001)

3.2 The Internet

Wikipedia defines the Internet as a worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). It is a “network of networks” that consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and government networks, which together carry various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat, file transfer, and the interlinked Web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.

Succinctly, Internet could be described by four major characteristics. They are:1. Interactivity, that is, ICTs effective two – way communication.
2. Permanent availability, the new ICTs are available 24 hours a day. 

3. Global reach; bridging the geographic distances.
4. Reduced costs for many; relative costs of communication have shrunk to a fraction of previous values.

Dimaggio, Hargittai, Neuman & Robinson (2001) describe the Internet thus:

  Internet can be a telephone: literally, or through e-mail, chat rooms, and other forms of real-time communication between individuals. It can serve as a library: Specialized websites “narrowcast”information to users interested enough to use search engines to find them. It can act as a soapbox: for individuals expressing themselves to e-lists and discussion forums. Or it can operate as a conventional mass medium: Internet service providers like AOL and services like RAM media
let providers broadcast information to large users simultaneously.(pp.307-336)

Kojo, Asiedu and Lu, Song Feng (2003) jointly describe Internet thus:
The Internet – or Net; is nothing more than a means of transport for digitalized information. But it makes radically new patterns of human communication possible through its speed of transport and the fact that once a link is established it becomes very cheap to send
information to one person or to a hundred. The Internet is more of a concept than a thing. It is best thought of as a new means of transport for information – the “tracks” over which actual information services “run”. In the same way, railways made regional and national newspapers possible; the arrival of the Internet makes new information service possible. The Internet allows users to transcend time, distance and old – technology cost constraints. They can form working groups or visual clubs with people who share their interests, regardless of where they live (P 202).

The rate of spread of Internet in Africa is equally unprecedented. The Internet doubled in size in 1994 and has done so every year since 1988 and the number of computers connected to the Internet in Africa for example jumped by 36% from July 1988 to January 1999 (Kojo B et al 2003).

Evidently, Internet is the fastest – growing communications medium ever. Millions of people are finding their working lives and increasingly their recreation, changed beyond all recognition. The unprecedented rate of adoption and spread of the new ICTs is not unconnected with the benefits inherent in them. The Internet and related ICTs are being seen as universal remedy of decades for developing World. The new ICTs could deliver better health services, promote political transformation, or generate new economic enterprises. The coming of globalization, free markets, technological change propelled by the new ICTs are opening up business borders and bridging existing business opportunities.

The Internet has positioned itself as a formidable resource for business information in developing countries. It has opened up people’s consciousness to the modern day technique of storing data in different locations and in different formats. Businesses, governments and NGOs are increasingly using the Internet to recruit personnel, save time and expense. With its worldwide scope and role, the Internet permits significant insights into overall market trends and competitive measures. The use of electronic mail minimizes the cost of employing staff, running advertisements, printing and postage costs. Development experts have posited that the Internet would undoubtedly mean better educated and better – informed people who in turn are more likely to successfully battle poverty and increase productivity so as to have improved economies.

Besides the above mentioned benefits, Internet can equally be beneficial to governments. It can help government agencies and private organizations to communicate with the public, with businesses and with one another. The anytime, anywhere character of the Internet allows information and services from the government, job recruiters/employers to be more available to more people and business with greater convenience and lower cost to customers.

3.2.1 Internet and the Web

The first electronic digital computer was developed during World War II by the British to break the German’s secret code. The first full-service electronic computer, introduced in 1946 was ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator), introduced by scientist John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert of the Moore school of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The commercial computers were introduced by the efforts of IBM.

The Internet is in part the product of the military’s desire to maintain US defenses after a nuclear attack. It came as a result of the 1957 Soviet Union launch of sputnik, earth’s first human constructed satellite, which disputed the supremacy of the US in science and technology. The US research team found answer in decentralization as the key to enabling communication to continue no matter where an attack occurred, and the solution was a network of computer networks- the Internet.

In 1969, Arpanet went online, and became full operational and reliable within one year. Other development soon followed. In 1972, Ray Tomlinson created the first e-mail programme and gave us the ubiquitous. The term Internet was coined in 1974 by Stanford University’s Vinton Cerf and Robert Katin of the U.S. military. In 1979, Steve Bellovin, a graduate student of the University of North Carolina, created Usenet and IBM crested BITNET.

With the development of personal or microcomputers, the Internet became accessible to millions of non- institutional users. Its capabilities include e-mail, mailing list, Usenet, FTP and world wide web (WWW).

3.2.2 Internet and the Change in Mass Communication

The traditional mass media follow a “one to many” model of communication. In other words, one source speaks at one time to many people who constitute a mass audience. Everyone who is tuned to a particular radio station will hear the same commercial and movie goers see the same version of film. The mass media communicate with the public as a mass audience rather than an individual human being. Internet has given rise to a hybrid model communication. A many to one is a cross between mass broadcasting and interpersonal communication. Large amounts of information are entered into the computer by many different sources and are stored until retrieved by individuals who select only the information they want or need.

In fact, the Internet has incorporated a three dimensional form of information: mass (one to many) interpersonal (one to one) and computing (many to one). But more significant is the emergence of the fourth mode of communication. Just as you have information being entered from many different sources, many individuals too are selecting this information as required or needed by them. So we have the many to many mode of communication.

3.2.3 Internet and the Global Village

The McLuhan’s idea of a global village is made possible by the emergence of the Internet. Global village is the idea that the new communication technologies will permit people to become increasingly involved in one another’s lives. McLuhan believed that electronic media would permit “the human tribe” to become “one family”. However this involvement does not mean harmony, it simply means an exchange of ideas. The net transforms every user into a potential mass communicator, making freedom of the press a reality for everyone. But freedom has been criticized because individuals are not bound by the kinds of economic and legal restraints that tend to impose responsibility on larger, commercially oriented media. The major free expression battles in the cyberspace revolve around online pornography, protecting children from inappropriate contact and protecting copyright.

The new communication technologies are touted as democratic because they permit greater citizen involvement. Yet the opposite view is that the commercialization of the Internet will make it as ineffective as more traditional media in serving democratic participaion. Besides, it is argued that many people will be shut out of the electronic debate due to technology the information gaps.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1

CNN is located in the US, NTA in Nigeria, Where is the Internet located? Give reasons for your answer.

3.3 Internet Radio

Live Internet radio was born on September 5, 1995, when progressive Networks transmitted the Seattle mariners and New York Yankees game online. Before then, the University of Kansas made history on December. 3, 1994, when its student-run radio station, KJHK-FM, was among the first stations to go live on the Internet. The success stories of some of the radio stations that first established Internet presence quickly spread throughout the radio industry as other stations eagerly connected to the Net. Some radio stations’ websites are merely promotional vehicles for their over- the-air counterparts, with web pages consisting of on-air personality biographies, play lists, audio shorts of new songs, and community calendars. Over-the-air use is slowly decreasing among listeners who use the Internet in the developed countries of the world.

3.3.1Internet Radio vs Over-The-Air-Radio: Benefits of Internet Radio

  1.  Web audio files can be listened to at anytime regardless of when they were first “aired”. 
  2.  Netcasts can be listened to from anywhere in the world regardless of the place of origin. 
  3. Online users can both listen to radio and watch visuals too. Songs, lyrics, news can be seen via text, graphics or video etc.
  4. Net casts can be listened to while doing other things. It allows multitasking. 

3.2.2 Challenges of Internet Radio

  1. The sound quality of Internet Radio is a formidable barrier to wide spread adoption. The clarity of cybercast depends largely on the type of internet connection used. 
  2. There is significant delay when downloading audio files.
  3. Lacks portability.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 2

Mention and describe Internet radio stations known to you.

3.4 Online Newspaper

The phenomenon and features of online newspaper are quite similar to that of webzine. Bittner (1989: 277) explains using a home computer and a modem to couple the telephone to the computer and by dialing the access number, the subscriber is linked with the database, which provides a ‘menu’ of available information, including the list of electronic newspaper. After selecting the newspaper, the subscriber searches an index of categories such as front page, sports, weather and leisure. From these categories, the subscriber selects a given story from coded headlines, and the story then appears in textual form on the video display terminal or home television set.

In a similar manner, the financial implication of running online newspaper is burdensome because of the low commercial patronage. It must be pointed that the first newspaper to go online was the “Columbus Dispatch” on 1st July, 1980. It was powered by CompuServe.

Another name for online newspaper is web newspaper. This is because it is newspaper that exists on the World Wide Web or Internet. Modern printed newspapers all over the world are developing and running web newspapers. Going online created more opportunities for newspapers for instance, it allows newspapers to effectively compete with broadcast journalism in presenting breaking news online in a more timely manner than printing allows. The credibility and strong brand recognition of well-established newspapers, and the close relationships they have with advertisers (particularly in the case of local newspapers), are also seen by many in the newspaper industry as strengthening their chances of survival.[1] The movement away from the printing process can also help decrease costs.

Not only do they allow for instant updating of news stories in text but also allow equal opportunities for access for disabled groups as well as adding more interesting features for the viewers to use leading to more interest and more advert opportunities.[2] As distinctions between modes of communication become blurred, and as mass communication transforms itself every day with innovation, anyone who has a cellphone on a hike in the woods may now be in instant contact with news and events worldwide.

Online newspapers are not precisely like blogs or forum sites; however, it is not unusual for newspaper reporters and editors to maintain blogs, or for newspapers to add forums to their websites, for easy response from readers. Online newspapers must abide by the same legalities as do their sister publications. Professional journalists have some advantages, as editors are normally aware of the potential for legal problems. The big difference over blog and forum sites as to online newspaper and news sites is that blog and forum sites are not media based websites.

As bloggers and independent citizen-journalists become more prevalent on the web, the potential for an explosion in lawsuits looms as they are not regulated in the same way as it is down to the public and none professional reporters to post stories in most cases. Blog sites can contain misleading information that could be seen as libel, questions regarding negligence or actual malice, or suits regarding invasion. These problems of blog as well as privacy torts such as appropriation, intrusion, private facts and false light were brought up in November 2006 when it hit national headlines in the UK.

3.4.1 Online-only Newspapers

Most existing newspaper organizations with printed/hard copy version of their newspaper also try to have the online version. In other words, they are not purely online, but mixed. With the introduction of the internet, web based newspapers have also started to be produced as online only publications. To be a “Web-Only Newspaper” they must not be part of or have any connection to hard copy formats. To be classed an “Online-Only Newspaper” the paper must also be regularly updated at a regular time and keep to a fixed news format, like a hardcopy newspaper. They must only be published by professional media companies, and fall under national and international press rules and regulations and have 80% or above news content. For example, in 2000 an independent web only newspaper was introduced in the UK called the Southport Reporter. It is a weekly regional newspaper that is not produced or run in any format other than soft-copy on the internet by its publishers PCBT Photography.

Unlike blog sites and other news websites it is run as a newspaper and is recognized by media groups in the UK, like the NUJ and/or the IFJ.

Also they fall under the UK’s PCC rules. In the US, online-only news sources, such as the Los Gatos Observer and Redding News Review, are not required to update at a regular time or keep to a fixed news format. The difference between a blog and an online newspaper is that the latter is run as a newspaper. One publication, theissue.com, may be seen as a hybrid. TheIssue.com is not a formal newspaper, but also not a blog. The daily publication culls news analysis from across the blogosphere to provide readers with a diversity of opinions and analysis on current events (Wikipedia).

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 3

Mention and describe online-only newspapers known to you

3.5 Online Magazine

Online magazine is also known as Webzines. This is the soft copy/online version of magazine. In the developed world, webzines have really been adopted, although they started with the production of online editions of their hard copies. Among them are Time and Mother Jones magazines which offer special interactive features not available to their hard copy readers. Production of exclusively online magazines (that is, online magazine that are only available in soft copy) was not in circulation. Until recently, purely online magazines like Slate, Salon and Onion came to being, available at http: //www.slate.com, www.salon.com, http: //www.theonion.com.

Cult of the Dead Cow claims to have published the first ezine, starting in 1984, with its ezine still in production more than 20 years later. While this claim is hotly debated, ezines certainly began in the BBS days of the 1980s. Phrack began publication in 1985 and, unlike Cult of the Dead Cow which publishes articles individually, Phrack published collections of articles in a manner more similar to a print magazine (Wikipedia).

Nigeria has not witnessed a purely online news magazine. What we have at present is the online version of hard copy version of magazines. Examples are online version of TELL and The News magazines.One major challenge against online media (online magazines and newspapers) is the struggle to succeed financially such that print media organizations use the hard copy version to cushion the financial burden. Exclusively online magazines have yet to produce a profit, and many industry specialists think it will be a long time before they do. There are special hurdles specific to purely online magazines. First, because web users have become accustomed to free access of sites, webzines have yet to find a successful means of charging for subscriptions. Slate dropped its plan to do so when faced with a 1997 reader revolt, Salon has instituted a two-tier, both free and subscription, model. Second, as opposed to webzines produced by paper magazines, purely online magazines must generate original content, an expensive undertaking, yet they compose online for readers and advertisers as equals with webzines subsidized by paper magazines (Baron 2004:146)

It must be pointed out that little or no commercial support is available to sustain purely online magazines. Advertisers still prefer paper version to online version. Of the estimated total annual U.S expenditure on advertising ($200 billion), only $154 million is spent on online magazine advertising (McNamara, 2000).

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 4

Mention and describe online-only magazines known to you

4.0 CONCLUSION

Unlike the hard copy magazines, online magazine is delivered in an electronic form. An online magazine may be online-only, or may be the online version of an otherwise print-published magazine. Today, most online magazines Internet websites.

An online magazine that caters to a niche or special interest subject matter, i.e. azine, is referred to as an ezine (usually pronounced “e-zeen”). An ezine that appears on the World Wide Web is called a webzine, although webzine may also refer to all online magazines. Other names include cyberzine and hyperzine. For websites that represent an existing print magazine, the web site is usually referred to as “<publication title> Online”, whereas an online only magazine is often titled “<publication title> Online Magazine”.

5.0 SUMMARY

This unit has tried to examine the New media, as a new branch of mass communication powered by the new information and communication technologies. Specifically, the Internet, Internet Radio, Online Newspaper and Online Magazine are examined in appreciable details.
The unit established the fact that all these new forms of the media are based on computer and not paper at all. They are manifestation of the prediction of the literary Canadian Scholar Marshall McLuhan.

6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT

Visit this websites (www.internetvalley.com/tv) and prepare a two-page
report of what is contained therein.

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