Technology and New Mass Media

// Posted by on 01/14/2012 (6:10 PM)

While browsing the Wired archives, I stumbled onto an article by Michael Crichton adaptedfrom a speechhe gave to the National Press Club in April of 1993. The headline of the article was “Mediasaurus,” and opened by comparing the American media to a dinosaur in the sense that, like the dinosaurs, the American media as understood in 1993 was headed towards extinction. Importantly, Crichton states that the change necessary for the American media to survive this extinction is technology; from the printing press to the telegraph, and now to the internet, media have always been driven by technology. Furthermore, Crichton argues that technology changed the very concept of information to our society. Without stating it directly, Crichton has begun to describe new media, the immediate access to information via technology. Although Crichton believes that this rise of new and mass media will be the catalyst required for print media to change, how could he have known that almost two decades later, the new media he was waiting for wouldn’t manifest as print media evolved, but rather within the technology itself?

While Michael Crichton thought that print media would always retain its monopoly on information, Rupert Murdoch, an important, although recently controversial, member of the media elite, is embracing technology. In a 2004 interview, Murdoch stated “To find something comparable, you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media – which, incidentally, is what really destroyed the old world of kings and aristocracies. Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control…. the internet is media’s golden age.” To continue with the dinosaur theme, the author of the article in which this interview is featured coincidentally writes that these days, “midtown Manhattan’s valley of old media dinosaurs is besieged by a Cambrian explosion of digitally empowered life-forms: podcasters, bloggers, burners, P2P buccaneers, mashup artists, phonecam paparazzi. Viewers are vanishing, shareholders are in revolt, advertisers are Googling for the exit.”

Although my grandparents still complain that technology is ruining society and reminisce about the newspaper, I find it ironic that they don’t go anywhere without their cell phones, kindles, and laptops (for Christmas, they just bought my 3-and-4-year-old cousins each a kindle fire… I still don’t even have one). Despite their nostalgia for print media, neither one of my grandparents can argue with the fact that the immediate and constant availability of information is something to be appreciated. To use an example of new mass media to illustrate the importance of the internet to information:

Sony Rep Eats His Words… with Cheese

First off, I’m not ashamed to admit that for most of 2010 and 2011, “The Philip DeFranco Show” on youtube was how I kept up with current events. Second, I agree with his interpretation of how important the internet is for information when he says that the internet is important for two important reasons, the serious one being “information accessible from everywhere.”

That video is an example of people taking control to show that the internet really is media’s golden age. This time last year, with the success of the iPad, I read a blog post titled “The New Mass Media is the iPad,” and thanks to the internet, specifically, I was able to quickly find this blog again. Back then, I didn’t really understand the importance of the term “new mass media,” or why the iPad was important for the mass media movement. So that point I want to make is that, although it’s kind of sad that newspapers and other forms of print media are in decline, I think that the pros of new and mass media more than make up for it due to the ease at which people can now get access to information, and information really is power (as evidenced by… history). This, however, is just my opinion, and since I am definitely biased due to my heavy reliance on the internet for everything I do (thanks Google), I’m interested to see what other people think.


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Kelsey said...

Crichton’s mention of the printing press as “what really destroyed the old world of kings and aristocracies” reminds me of a quote from the 1640s on the effects of the printing press and education, Sir William Berkeley said “I thank God, we have not free schools nor printing; and I hope we shall not have these hundred years. For learning has brought disobedience, and heresy and sects into the world; and printing has divulged them and libels against the government. God keep us from both!”
I can’t help but wonder what those in control will begin to think with us regular folk having such easy access to so much information.

// 01/15/2012 at 4:50 pm

Natalie said...

I agree with you that this new array of mass media is providing us with so much information and opportunities to share. As much as people fear the decline of the printed press I also agree that this technology is enabling us for the better since we can exchange so much more information than we could previously. One aspect of this new mass media that I am most intrigued by is it’s price. Currently its free access to those with the technology to access the internet. Certain news sources, such as New York Times are beginning to request that readers acquire a subscription to see their articles; however, the majority of other sources are still free. Obviously, getting news from a source like The Phillip DeFranco show would be difficult to charge since it is put on by a single person; however, could there ever be a day where we must subscribe to YouTube? Right now I am just as impressed as you are with the amount of access we have because of the internet, but several times I wonder if this will be limited in the future by fees and costs. Companies could gain lots of profit if they charged access to certain sites and the government could limit access by doing this as well. I imagine that this has now become such an integral part of our society that there would be a lot of push-back if that day ever came. It is just hard for me to imagine that such a great thing could remain free forever.

// 01/16/2012 at 7:41 pm

Renee said...

After I read the section that concluded “Despite their nostalgia for print media, neither one of my grandparents can argue with the fact that the immediate and constant availability of information is something to be appreciated”, although I agree with the article I just feel that it is important to point out the ways in which digital information can be very different than print. Information on the web is constantly being personalized to you. Google knows your current location whenever you connect to the internet and the ads that you see are personalized based on your web browsing preferences. This means that you miss out on a lot of random information that you might otherwise get. Like we talked about in class, one of the downfalls of buying a book online is that you lose the experience of shopping in a book store and of browsing the books that are shelved next to the book you are looking for. When you read a newspaper online you are more likely to read just the one article you are interested in but when you have a physical newspaper in front of you, you are more likely to at least browse the entire thing. New and mass media definitely make much more information available to the public but I think it is important to consider how that information is available and how your access to that information is shaped.

// 01/16/2012 at 11:35 pm

Evalyn Gerych said...

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// 01/17/2012 at 3:39 pm

Sergio Fiene said...

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// 01/18/2012 at 5:23 am

Kelsey said...

To Natalie- I also think about what would happen to the internet if people tried to make a profit off of it, I think companies like Comcast tried that a couple of years back by jacking up their rates for an internet connection. I don’t know if people protested enough to avoid the price increase all together or if some people just don’t have internet access because of that, which leads me to think that if one ever had to subscribe to most websites on the internet then there would be a lot fewer people who would even bother with the internet.

// 01/18/2012 at 10:32 pm

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// 01/25/2012 at 6:47 am

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// 01/30/2012 at 9:10 pm

Patti said...

Tom, I agree with you about the amount of
information that is now available to us.
But, how accurate is it? I don’t trust a
site unless it has at least three sources.
Everyone wants to get the story out first and
important news stories turn into entertain-

// 02/09/2012 at 12:56 am