Thursday, August 09, 2012

New Media Presents Challenges for Old Media

These days, so many people get a lot of their information via the internet. When I was in college in the late 1980s/early 1990s, things were much different. In college I did not know anyone who had a computer in their dorm room. No one had a cell phone or an mp3 player. None of us had heard of Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Google or blogs. My term papers were typed on an ancient device called a typewriter.

The past 15 years or so have been challenging for media outlets. TV stations, radio stations and newspapers have experienced shrinking customer base which leads to less advertising revenue. People figure, why buy a newspaper when I can get information free via my computer? Why listen to the radio when I can get free pod casts and download songs to an mp3 player? People can watch full length TV programs on the internet as long as they have a fast connection, so traditional broadcast TV stations have fewer viewers than they used to. Yes, broadcast TV has had competition from people renting movies, watching cable stations and doing other recreational activities like playing video games. But the internet has been a fierce competitor that changes people's habits concerning how they get entertainment. If you have been in a movie theatre lately, many of them seem to have few customers since people watch movies at home and download films legally (and illegally). Newspapers, radio stations and TV stations seem to be putting more of an emphasis on their online presence which only makes sense.

With a blog like this one, I can put my ideas into a format that is free. It can be distributed widely or selectively. No wonder that we see some news sources like The Huffington Post that is 100% online. No need to purchase printing presses, paper and ink, just put it online. Adam Carolla has a very successful pod cast that many people enjoy. He does not need to have a broadcast transmitter and all the equipment like a radio station does. A person can make a video with a $100 video camera and upload it to you tube for free. Times are changing so quickly, it is amazing to see what has happened, especially since about 2000.

Is the explosion of the internet good or bad for society? That is not easy to answer, and it is up to the individual to evaluate that. The internet has created many jobs, but it has caused many to lose jobs as well. There's no use in fighting about it since we can't go back, only forward. When society went from using the horse and buggy for transportation to the "horseless carriage" or automobile, many were put out of work in that transition too, such as blacksmiths and buggy makers. But, on the other hand, the auto industry created millions of jobs. The only constant in life is change.
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