It is now more than 20 years but the New Media is still to lose its “newness”. Reason: New Media has become an all-encompassing generic term for any and every form of media that uses the digital platform.
This has led to the blurring of several boundaries. The most dramatic has been ownership transformation. The New Media has empowered individuals across the globe to create their very own media vehicles. These range from individual websites to blogs, ezines, wikis and podcasts to streaming video and mobile content.
The social networking sites are the latest addition to the widening New Media umbrella. These sites provide tools that enable individuals and communities to create sharply targeted content, something that the traditional media is unable to do or match in range and scope.
Another radical change is agenda setting. In the 20th century it was the traditional media that set the agenda; in the 21st century it is the New Media that has usurped this role. The traditional media today is desperately trying to play catch up to New Media, but is finding it increasingly difficult to do so.
Already, leading media empires in the west are shrinking rapidly, and there is a genuine fear that the traditional media as we know may disappear. India is one of the few countries where the traditional media is still vibrant, and this is largely on account of low Internet connectivity in the country.
But for how long? The winds of change have started blowing. You may recall that the 2004 Lok Sabha elections were branded as the first real televised elections in India. Political parties fielded their most media savvy netas to win voter hearts. In 2009, television is still important. But all political parties are now trying to create a buzz on the net. If this continues, the 2014 elections may well be fought through New Media tools!
Even the entertainment industry is turning to New Media tools to create content that can be consumed on mobile phones. It does not mind the shrinking of the screen – from the giant cinema screen to the 21 inch television monitors to the 15 cm cell phone screens.
The flavour of the new century is New Media. But, how does one define New Media? Is it dissemination of information that has traditionally been defined as news? Is it content creation by one entity and distribution to many? Or is it content creation as a collaborative effort by groups of individuals and organizations existing in different parts of the globe? Also, is it limited to text or includes audio and video content too?
It is almost impossible to define New Media today or to forecast as to how it will be created, distributed or consumed in the coming years. The only thing that is certain is that the term New Media is here to stay.