What is New Media?
New media is any media that is delivered to the people through digital means. Any medium through which you can distribute digital content, for example, email, podcast, smartphone applications, streaming video content, all are examples of new media. The technological advancements, the need to stay connected, and the global world have brought a rapid growth in the media sector. Marshall McLuhan said that we have left the Gutenberg Galaxy behind and it is now electronic communication, rather than print media, which dominates. Today, electronic communication has given way to the age of the Internet. The new media is digital, interactive, and convergent. It allows the audience to actively interact with the communicator.
What is Media and Communication?
According to Wikipedia, “Media studies, is a discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history, and effects of various media; in particular, the mass media. Media Studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass communication, communication, communication sciences, and communication studies”.
John Fiske, in his book Introduction to Communication Studies, says that one school of thought sees communication as the ‘transmission of messages’ and the other school perceives communication as the ‘production and exchange of meanings’. He elaborates that scholars of communication are concerned with matters like efficiency and accuracy of using the channels and media of communication, and how senders and receivers encode and decode information. Also, they are concerned with how messages, or texts, interact with people to produce meanings; that is, it is concerned with the role of texts in our culture. Fiske says that the former process school tends to address itself to acts of communication whereas the latter school’s main method of study is semiotics (the science of signs and meanings).
The Evolution from Old Media to New Media
To understand this field of study more deeply, let me take you down the lane to the days when mass communication started flourishing. The primitive man used drawings, signs, and facial expressions to communicate. His grunts and growls gave way to actual words. As he became more civilized, he learned the art of writing and developed the language script and started keeping written records.
The rulers used to circulate news across their kingdom as proclamations by the drummers. Civilizations used stone, animal skin, and tree barks to write upon until paper was discovered. The invention of the printing press was a revolution in the field of mass communication, as mass production of books and other written material made them cheap and easily available.
Today, there are many mediums of mass communication like television, newspapers, radio, and the internet. The emergence of new technologies has revolutionized the field of media. The world has become global and we can send messages across to any part of the world in less than a second. You can connect to your old school friend instantly on Facebook or Skype, even if they shifted to a far off place.
What are the prospects of learning about the new media in the future?
A very popular quote says, “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising”. Studying media as a subject can enhance your knowledge of the field of news gathering and news writing across all media like newspapers – online or print, radio, television. To practice journalism, the ability to handle new media will become indispensable. The COVID – 19 pandemic will lead to an outbreak of platforms for online news delivery. The advent of the digital has opened more possibilities in photography and movie making, enabling you to take your art across the globe. The rise of online streaming platforms gives opportunities for producing good and quality content. Also, the animation and gaming industry is growing rapidly and is producing a lot of prospects. According to Neuman, “We are witnessing the evolution of a universal interconnected network of audio, video, and electronic text communications that will blur the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication”. At such a time, as media students, it will be utmost necessary for you to understand new media.
The prospects here are endless; one just needs some passion, desire to know more about the media, and determination to succeed.
- Theories of Media Evolution by W. Russell Neuman
- Introduction to Communication Studies by John Fiske
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