Journalism is considered as the “sine qua non” of the contemporary society. And, no, I am not exaggerating. How else do you think that people, while staying in the comfort of their homes, have been getting updates on the spread of the coronavirus around the world? Or, how do you think people from different corners of the world have been able to get every single detail of the recent US presidential election?
One word is enough to answer these questions: journalists!
Even the terrifying and life-threatening nature of Covid-19 could not prevent journalists from carrying out their duties. While many students took online classes and thousands of employees working from home during the pandemic, many journalists had to put their lives on the line and head to newsrooms or out on the field.
But, what if I tell you that even the world of journalism has been going through a series of technological changes due to the emergence of the new media?
What Is the New Media?
In recent years, aside from the print and audio-visual media, media sociologists have identified a third type of mass media, which is known as the new media. In layman’s terms, new media can be defined as the screen-based digital technology that consists of integrating images, sound, and texts and which has emerged during the late 20th century and 21st centuries.
To understand how the advent of new media has brought a revolution to the journalistic profession, one should understand the new media’s features and how it differs from the traditional media.
Today, qualitative information has become ‘digitalized’ and has led to technological convergence. This brings us to the following characteristic.
Convergence of media delivery technologies and systems:
Media convergence has brought a massive revolution in the world of journalism. For instance, as per Jenkins (2008), “media convergence involves both a change in the way news is produced and in the way news is consumed.”
It is seen that due to the phenomenon of media convergence, journalism is under ever-increasing pressure and the reason why is because media convergence has redefined the tasks of journalists and newsrooms. For instance, the press is now more in search of journalists who can not only write but also produce photographs and moving images at the same time. Besides, many newspaper organizations are hiring journalists with the ability to remodel news stories for both broadcasting and online media as well.
An example is how in Puerto Rico, newspapers always demand the convergence of their workers’ journalistic skills.
The following extract explains how media convergence is reshaping the journalistic profession:
“Convergence requires a new mindset for journalists. They must take into consideration the new media and plan ahead for repurposing content across different platforms. Many old journalistic instincts are wrong in the new media environment. For example, in a newspaper or television news context, the goal is to attract and keep the reader or viewer. In the Web environment, readers jump around and expect the reporter to be an expert who will not only convey valuable information but will provide links that send the reader to additional sources of information.”
– Carrey, 2009
But what about journalists? What are the perspectives of journalists about the digital revolution and convergence?
Many reporters believe that media convergence is just a scheme to get fewer journalists to do more things. It is viewed as a ‘marketing ploy’, where in the news industry, the news is promoted simply as a “product”, focusing on the business rather than journalism.
Interactivity and hypertextuality are the other two features of new media that have impacted the world of journalism. If you want to learn more about them, why don’t you come back for part 2?