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Television, radio and newspapers have played a significant role in distributing news, entertainment and other relevant content in a timely and coherent manner for the past 80 years.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, first the radio broadcasts and then the colour television had greatly influenced how the average person perceives the world. For example, if in the 1920s it had been unimaginable to believe that a person 5000 miles away could be talking to you in real-time and you would be able to sit on your comfortable sofa at home clearly seeing his / her every move and quiver, only 30 years later that had already been achieved. Then, the communications had started to flourish and became available to the masses and millions of people were able to know what is going on in almost every corner of the world in minutes.
For around 40-50 years, nothing changed in the way information was distributed. But the availability of high-speed Internet access to millions of ordinary users was about to change the media industry forever. The Internet users tended to be well-educated, well-paid young individuals with new and innovative ideas and a passion for sharing these ideas to other people who would be interested to know about them and many new forms of communication and information exchange emerged and became available in a very short timeframe. First, the discussion boards and newsgroups, later IRC and ICQ and then Skype, blogs and the social networks surfaced, forcing many traditional media to reconsider how they are doing business and to try and create a bond between them and their customers.
For generation Y, the first source of real time news and information is not the television anymore. Internet networks such as Twitter and YouTube has replaced it and this is not because something is wrong with the information itself, rather, the customers are not passive consumers anymore. They want to interact with the information in some way, influencing the action or conveying some message through the already exchanged information and platforms such as Twitter and YouTube enable such interaction.
Unfortunately, most of the traditional media still do not recognise this trend, let alone Internet as a technology that would ultimately render them useless. Rather, they try to take an offensive position by branding it a cheap playground of careless foolish teens that are conspiring against everything traditional. Of course, for you and me, who have lived our entire lives literally on the Internet, such a label is somewhat out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.
Information distribution is changing and this is an irreversible process that no organisation or individual could influence or dictate. The only question is what would happen with the old-fashioned media such as television, radio and newspapers?
In my opinion, they have two options:
- To try and change how they interact with their viewers, listeners or readers or
- To fade away over time and be replaced by something else which will be in sync with the new generation.
I am not sure which of these scenarios would emerge as the prevalent one in the nearer future, but I am open for your opinions and comments on the matter.
Do you think that the new media in the face of social networks, blogs, video logs, etc. would be able to render the traditional media sources obsolete or this is just an illusion and the traditional media is still strong as ever? Don’t hesitate to share your comments below.