Lots of people are now talking about new media as opposed to old or traditional media. However, there is still some uncertainty as regards the distinction between new and old media. Flew (2008) notes that the idea of ‘newness’ is rather subjective and relative as television and the Internet have become accessible almost simultaneously in such countries as India or China.
Other researchers suggest a particular distinction between new and old media based on the use of the Internet and digital technology (Salman et al., 2011). Noteworthy, researchers agree that the distinction between the two types of media is less important than the convergence of these types (Collins, 2013).
It is possible to state that the three standpoints are correct to a certain extent and it is possible to combine them. Thus, the distinction between old and new media is a bit blurred but still meaningful even though the two types of media are likely to converge into the third type.
The Distinction between Old and New Media and Its Relevance
Despite close connection between the two types of media, it is possible to draw the distinction between them. Logan (2010, p. 4) claims that new media “incorporate two-way communication” and are associated with computing (e.g. the Internet, social networks), while old media do not require computing (radio, print newspapers, TV). This standpoint can be easily illustrated.
Thus, newspapers and television are rather one-way sources of information. Viewers do not often participate in the creation of the programs. Admittedly, there are call-ins but the amount of participation is still irrelevant. When it comes to newspapers, they are not created by the readers.
Each piece of news is told by a journalist. Readers can only write letters or call the newspaper and it is the editor who decides whether to add the commentary to the next issue or not. However, it is necessary to note that at the era of newspapers and television there was no need in such two-way channels. People strived for news and they simply wanted to be aware of the latest events in the world.
Remarkably, people of the twenty-first century seek for networking and they want to feel connected. Boyd and Ellison (2008) stress that networking has become very popular as people feel certain empowerment. Thus, online resources are characterized by the immediate feedback (Ryan, 2010). Users post their commentaries and express their opinions on a variety of issues (Newman, 2011).
Moreover, people affect media’s agendas, so-to-speak. Jenkins (2006) mentions the story of a teenager who unintentionally caused the start of anti-American demonstrations and almost caused legal actions against himself. Internet users also feel their own relevance with the help of blogging. Keen (2010) emphasizes negative effects of such empowerment.
The researcher argues that blogging along with various applications available online makes people distracted from some really important things. Keen (2010, p. 55) articulates the idea that ‘democratized’ media only leads to the future where “everyone is an author, while there is no longer any audience”.
The present distinction is based on the degree of collaboration between producers of content and consumers. Van Dijk (2006) introduces a structural component of the distinction between new media and old media stating that the former are structurally different (i.e. two-way) from the latter (i.e. one-way).
It is also possible to differentiate between the old and new media focusing on their ‘popularity’. As far as old media are concerned, they are seen as somewhat out-dated and they are declining. For instance, researchers note that there is certain decrease in newspapers circulations in many countries (Cervenka, 2005). Younger generations prefer searching the net to reading print newspapers.
Television is also losing points steadily. At the same time, the Internet and especially social networks are becoming more and more popular. Popularity of the Internet is due to its accessibility and multi-functionalism (O’Reilly, 2005). Internet users are attracted by the variety of options offered.
Thus, users can communicate, express opinions, share files, create certain communities, find information, etc. It is possible to state that this distinction is also relevant. Hence, it is possible to note that the distinction between old and new media is based on two dimensions, popularity and structure.
The Convergence of the Two Types of Media
Remarkably, some researchers claim that there is a distinction based on the form. Chun (2005) notes that new media require computing and digital technology (unlike old media). Nevertheless, such media as online newspapers and digital TV are becoming increasingly popular. Some call these new media, but it is somewhat inaccurate. It is more appropriate to talk about the third type of media or the convergence of the two types.
Thus, Skoler (2009) states that the two types of media can facilitate each other. For instance, the author argues that social media can help develop such old media as newspapers. The researcher notes that people can continue telling stories and reporting about things they see, but it is journalists’ job to process the information and present the most relevant news only (Skoler, 2009).
This convergence of social networks and newspapers can be beneficial for both as the former get the air of confidence and the latter have access to almost unlimited sources of information.
French (2011) also claims that convergence of different types of media is beneficial for the development of the very concept of media. The researcher stresses that the so-called old media are now becoming digitalized. People have online newspapers and digital TV. They also keep using social networks and other applications. This helps people remain up-to-date and connected.
Thus, it is possible to state that the distinction between old and new media is becoming totally blurred as the third type of media occurs. It is possible to call it global, digital, collaborative and old and new media can be a characteristic of the twentieth century.
To sum up, it is possible to note that the distinction between old and new media can be based on several features. The most relevant distinction is based on the structural component and popularity. Thus, new media are characterized by computing and connectedness while old media do not possess these features.
However, it is also necessary to note that even this distinction is becoming somewhat blurred due to the changes taking place in the society of the twenty-first century.
Newspapers and TV are now digitalized and these media start being more collaborative (i.e. customers are getting involved in the process of creation of the products). This collaboration is beneficial for the media as well as the development of the society. People are now ready to collaborate and interact, which is crucial for the globalized world of the twenty-first century.
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