Media convergence is more than the coming together of media platforms (Dominick, 2009). Media convergence can also be understood in the context of collaboration. For example, the Internet does not undermine the capability of news bureaus.
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But on the contrary the successful integration of Information Technology and conventional forms of mass media communication can produce a competitive advantage over others (Dale & Lewis, 2012). From the perspective of consumers they can access information at a faster and more cost-efficient rate (Sterling, 2009).
From the perspective of journalists and publishers they can reach a greater number of people as compared to their normal capability through the traditional forms of selling their newspaper. There is no better example of the powerful impact of media convergence than in the transformation of a particular mass media communication platform such as newspaper publication.
With convergence it is no longer necessary to buy an actual newspaper in order to read the news (Wilde 2008). The byproduct of this convergence is now called alternative media and it is both a blessing and curse for media moguls but it has forever transformed the way people access news information.
Before going any further it is important to clarify the evolution of media from mass media to alternative media. When one talks about mass media communication major publishers of newspapers come to mind, like the Washington Post and the New York Times. Into this list one can add CNN, NBC and others.
Since modern forms of mass media communication have been a part of modern life since the latter part of the 19th century, one can argue that this is the traditional way to broadcast news.
In the 20th century newspapers became a fixture in modern homes. Breakfast time is characterized with a coffee on one hand and a newspaper on the other. Thus, this method of communication can also be labeled as traditional forms of mass media communication.
The evolution from traditional mass media communication to alternative media compelled corporate leaders to embrace Information Technology because they can no longer deny the fact that the only way to retain and increase their market share is to digitize their service (Valee, 2003). The evolution from mass media communication is not a linear process.
There is a great deal of integration and lateral movement (Waltz, 1995. This assertion is based on the fact that not all people use alternative media (Wilson & Cohen, 1991). At the same time media moguls continue to dominate the production and dissemination of news stories. But if one understands the reasons behind the emergence of alternative media, one can understand how to use and appreciate this new form of news delivery.
The emergence of alterative media is due to the Internet and the World-Wide-Web. These two related technologies made it possible to create networks of computers and enhance the communication process in a global scale. The development of portable computers like personal computers, laptops and smart phones created a new way to deliver information.
But more importantly, these technologies enable an ordinary person to create and broadcast news. The only thing required is a basic understanding on how to build websites and blogs and they can begin to share their insights and thoughts worldwide. This capability gave rise to alternative media.
The tremendous potential of Information Technology was not enough to convince newspaper publishers that the heyday of news on paper was near its end. The reason why many people did not believe that digital news can surpass the capability of traditional newspapers can be understood if one examines the difference between mass media and alternative media.
A major difference between the two can be seen in truthfulness and objectivity of information gathered by the respective reporters, writers, and journalists. Old school journalism uses a high standard in the way information are gathered and consolidated before it is released to the public. In the case of news released through websites, there is no need to hire a large staff.
Most of the time the proponents do not have the money to hire professionals. In most cases, a few people are forced to perform multiple tasks such as research, writing and even the repair and maintenance of computers. Thus, it is difficult to determine the reliability of the information released for public consumption.
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Conventional mass media organizations operate at a different levels. Journalists are expected to follow a certain ethical standards related to their work. A high level of professionalism is needed. The reporters will do everything in their power to provide a truthful account of the event that they covered.
They are conscientious in their investigative work in order to sustain a high level of integrity in their profession. They are also aware that people can sue them in court if they write something that can be considered as libel. In other words there are stringent rules that pertain to accountability.
Alterative media cannot boast of the same standards. It is difficult to monitor and confront those who do not have a physical address. However, newspaper publications can have flaws. One problematic issue is the selective release of information.
There can be various reasons why newspaper publishers chose to ignore certain events and consider these things not newsworthy (Streissguth, 2007, p.81). But there are those who may think that this particular publisher played it safe in the decision not to release information. The need to access information paved the way for the emergence of alternative media.
The convergence of media that resulted in the digitized form of The New York Times and Washington Post is the testament to the power of Information Technology and the changing needs of people.
The radical change in terms of the way people consume news information prompted one analyst to comment: “we are no longer a national audience receiving news from a handful of trusted gatekeepers; we’re now a million or more clusters of consumers, harvesting information from like-minded providers” (Fallows, 2011, p.1). The digitized versions of newspaper are cheaper to produce as opposed to those made out of paper.
Information was gathered through a carefully analysis of digitized versions of newspapers as well as commentaries from those who studied the differences of conventional mass media communication and alternative media. These sources also illustrated the fact that media convergence is something that is achieved in a non-linear way. In other words alternative media will not be able to eradicate mass media.
The source of information is the World-Wide-Web. Therefore, the proponent of this study collected information through the use of the Internet. In this case it can be argued that the Internet is a new form of mass media communication. A review of the sources used was a great help when it comes to the realization that newspaper publishers have no choice but to embrace Information Technology.
For those who embraced IT-based technologies the transition was one of the challenging portions of their lives. Many were hesitant at first but when they saw the level of participation from clients they were forced to adopt this form of technology.
There were challenges encountered through the data gathering phase of the project (Dale & Lewis, 2010). As mentioned earlier alternative media like blogs and news websites can deliver unreliable information. It is therefore important to check the source of the information given by people (Sloan & Mackay, 2007, p.5).
The convergence of media is best illustrated with the digitized versions of established newspapers like The New York Times and Washington Post. It has been made clear that convergence is not only integration.
It is a non-linear development process. But in the case of newspapers it can be argued that the publishers were able to enjoy the best of both worlds. In other words the consumers can rely on a high level of professionalism from editors and journalists. At the same time they can reach a bigger number of people because they are no longer limited by time. Information Technology paved the way for easier access for customers.
At first media moguls were hesitant to embrace this new form of technology. But when they realized the potential of the said technology they made.
The customers were the one who greatly benefited from the transition and the transformation of the process. Traditional mass media communication created a more widely-accepted process in which people are not only interconnected but also has the capacity to express their thoughts and opinions
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