Impact of New Media Technologies to Current Journalism Practices
Category : Communication, Innovation Level, Media Essay, News
Impact of New Media Technologies to Current Journalism Practices
Some time ago the fields of communications and the matter of mass media as a field of study were largely confined to the schools of journalism. But now the rise in interest to study this from outside that area stems mostly from the advances in technology, where the changes of modern living has solidified the image of our world as one big global community, where virtually everyone can easily and quickly reached. There is no doubt in this day and age that we are greatly influenced by the media. This is why most researchers have taken up the mettle in understanding its functions, and impact it makes in changing the matters pertaining to society, the least of which is that of public opinion.
The technological advancements that the modern society is characterized at present makes the people living today to experience and two things in the most efficient and effective way. The world has changed since the introduction of the computer technology and other communication innovations that time and space barriers have long been overcome in the need for individuals to get connected.
The first section of the paper presents the different types of news gathering and story production employed at present in the field of journalism. It tackles the different ways of accumulating, recording and reporting of news stories in the different forms of media such as the print, online, radio and television as well as the ways in which the final version of the story appears and the format it is delivered to the public in the mentioned communication media. The second part of the paper discusses the general implications of multi-media journalism to the work practices of reporters, induced technological changes, commercial pressures and the changing customer demands which affect the work they produce.
Current Journalism Practices
Studies have shown that the introduction of the Internet in the field of mass media has resulted to popular academic researches on its effects on the message consumption using the traditional modes of mass communication ( 2000). The study combusted by (2000) recorded that the increase in the message consumption through the Internet has greatly influenced the decline in the use of traditional mass communication media such as the print, radio and television. The monthly telephone surveys in 1998 by Research Center for the People and Press (2000) supported the mentioned findings as online news users increased in number which likewise resulted to the decreasing use of TV, newspaper and magazines as sources of news updates and current events. The relationship of the inception of online communication led to the bulk of academic endeavors pursuing the studies on the current condition of the traditional forms of public communication (1999).
As the primary venue for public information, regular news reports mediated by print and broadcast communications are considered and recognized for their democratic function that enables the public to make personal and communal stand on issues that the society faces. Contemporary studies in the field of mass communication especially the focus in the discipline of journalism will inherently provide descriptions and explanations on the structure of the society, politics and culture of the country.
(1999) described news stories as “consistent rational system and abstracted interpretation derived from the chaos of a given moment and filtered through the stages of fixed, editorial necessity”. He further claimed that news reports are organized artificially and fully mediated by the culture it supports and not ordained by reality nor necessarily complete descriptions of each. Like other institutions, the practice of journalism has undergone series of development processes which led to patterns of change and adjustments that are closely interconnected to the technological and cultural history of the community whose rules and modes of production are at least partly based on the greater society’s more general pattern of change.
Types of News Gathering and Story Production
News gathering is the business of reporting, of finding out and recording of key elements and information for a news story. Different reporters engage in various techniques and means of gathering information for the completion of their stories. The medium in which the news story will be channeled is also considered in the ways of collecting news information since different the different media forms call and serve for different audience and readers. But generally, reporters share almost the same methods of gathering news information through first hand or personal sources and secondary data which are valid and reliable.
friendly (1999) provided five ways used most frequently by journalist in producing their news articles. These news information gathering techniques include off-the-record, for background only, not for direct quotation, hold for release and private gatherings. Off-the-record news gathering usually takes place in small gatherings or interviews wherein the news sources ask the reporter to make succeeding statements of the record or give the journalists the option to look for other informants instead. However, there are instances when phony off-the-record- remarks used by the reporter as background to the story he or she is writing making sure that the meanings of the word used by the informant were clearly understood.
For background only news gathering procedure is known as information without attribution or the rule of compulsory plagiarism used when a person of considerable importance holding a delicate position is providing information wherein his or her name can not be used for reasons of public policy or personal vulnerability usually taken by informants who want to state leads but are not willing to compromise their stakes in the issue.
The not for direct quotation method normally leads to confusion and dilemma to the reporter. The journalist faces the challenge of deciding the extent of involvement he will risk on the part of the source since the boundaries set were not clearly defined. This usually leads to cloudy and tricky news presentation.
Hold for release are statements, speeches, handouts, reports gathered are often embargoed for publication until a certain time with the provisions of the documents. Validity and reliability of these sources are usually assessed and evaluated since facts and figures are ordinarily provided and presented for convenient use. Caution, however, is practiced by the journalists as part of standard operating procedures.
The last technique is the public gatherings category which is characterized with the available information from conversations, private visits and social functions. Such data are considered by the reporters as bank information as they are not sure of the purpose and service of the facts they acquired at the time of information collection.
It is interesting to note, however, that there are relatively few number of studies and researches that were conducted which address the range of which commercial pressures of the new media environment, induced by technological innovations, are transforming media firm and journalist routines, as well as shaping traditional news values (1999, 2000; 1998; 2000; 2000). At present, we are experiencing a period of experimentation wherein media service providers and encoders are seeking new avenues to financially support their businesses just like what practitioners of journalism experience in defining online journalism norms, practices and (). Research Center (2000) also verified that online communication used for news viewing focus mainly on name brands known from television () or print ().
According to (1995) there are two ways that are available for journalists and reporters in using computer-assisted reporting (CAR) in news gathering which include online-based method and data-based analysis. Online-based newsgathering makes use of commercial services offered by business enterprises and Internet-based services like the World Wide Web (1995b). The data-based analysis, on the other hand, uses original databases which could be of both public and private in orientation (1995a; 1996). (1996) claimed that commercial databases initiated the information revolution that defines the present era fueled by the successive developments in the features and services provided by the Internet and the World Wide Web. (1995) further stated that CAR strategies have been increasingly adopted by investigative reporters.
Implications of Multi-media Journalism
Many journalists and investors believe the Internet is an important new mass medium (1998). This is evident and supported by the fact that more than 200 million people who are using the Internet service for communication and search purposes. Different industries have engaged the Internet in their operations in order to provide efficient and effective services to the public and this holds true not just among business institutions but also in the public and government domains. With more than 13 million Internet links and websites, traditional media functions have likewise adopted this new medium as 3,909 magazines, 3,256 newspapers, 2,111 radio stations and 1,283 television stations have operations online ( 25 March, 2000). Thus adding to the synergy and dynamics of virtual activities of multimedia in its ability to combine and animate texts and pictures that characterizes the print and broadcast media resulting to a blurred distinction of these mass communication channels making readers and viewers more active in their responses to the information provided to them (2004).
In line with this, (1994) argued that the proliferation and demand of news from computer remove serendipity and therefore threaten to destroy the mass audience and thus the democratic function of the mass media especially the journalism and broadcast fields. Such claim was formed due to the diversifying effect and individualist nature of the use of Internet as a medium to provide information to the public. The advancement that the Internet is characterized with challenges the traditional behavior of the public to come up with common stand on issues and concern that are being addressed in the society sustaining the concept of self-governance.
McLuhan’s theory of “the medium is the message” was criticized by (1999) in his argument that a clear distinction between the medium of transmission or the specific information system’s mode of data production and the technology by which the information that constitutes the message is collected should be accorded.
“It makes little difference if a news reporter with a notebook, a radio reporter with a tape recorder, or a television news crew with a video camera records…. the content is the same without analysis…. and defines information essentially as what was said by that single official at a single time and place. The message is constant in each medium.” – (1999).
He explained that the medium itself exists within a social, political and economic context that influences the message and determine the gatekeepers’ acceptability and distribution of the message (1999).
At present, the modern media “produce and circulate meaning in the society” (2002) within the context of nationality and cultural heritage, religion, regional identities, societal classes, ethnic and minority rituals, family values and self-actualization. Such reality brings about endless debate of what is right or wrong, just or unfair, even real or unreal. Having wide variety of meanings in the society is a fact that maintains these debates, but to include the modernization of media simply aggravates the inherent confusion.
(1972) and (1997) recognize the effect of the assumptions held by authors regarding the ‘passive’ position of their readers on the content of the messages that could either contribute to or detract from the credibility of the source. Similar to the claims of rhetorical criticism, critical literacy “complements media literacy in particular as it offers a way to examine how media messages are designed for certain groups, why some media texts might be more effective than others, what issues are raised by media coverage, and whose interests are served by media content’ (2002). Hence, the shared values and lifestyle dictated by the way of presenting particular ideologies to the society could either be beneficial or harmful to the way the general public will decide the fate of their communities especially in the democratic social structure and policy governance.
The changes brought about by the innovations in communication technology greatly affected the practice of journalism. The practice in the discipline of news writing cannot be separated from the modern context and environment of the society that characterizes the world. The efficient system of communication has redefined the traditional concept of news gathering and story production providing opportunities and advantages to reporters at the same time facilitating drawbacks and disadvantages in the social, political, cultural and economic contextualization of journalism.
With the ease and bulk of information from which various news stories could be derived, comes the demand that the public addresses to news providers. Issues and concerns relating to the quality, validity and reliability of the means and ways of message channeling and dissemination of different forms of mass communication media continues to be reflected in the current journalism practices. Providing a redefinition regarding the general concept of news reporting should be made taking into account the changing technological environment that we are in today.
In regard to discourse about new technologies, we need to consider what claims are credible, what evidence is accurate, and which spokespersons are truly acting in the public interest. We also should recognize explicitly how advocates and writers use narratives, myths, forms of language, and visual images to tell their stories. Through critical examination of these features, we can begin to see what ideologies are at work and whose interests are being served by the discourse. This is an important step to a thorough understanding of the issues at stake in the formation of technology policy and of how decisions on these issues may affect us and our lives.