Surely the internet has lost its new-car-smell by now?

enzo-5441872Most of us know the difference between ‘new media’ and ‘media’ right? Media without its adjective is newspapers, radio, television etc. The all new and improved media is the stuff of the internet. In fact, new media seems to attract other adjectives – social media and online media are two that spring to mind, but I am sure there are others. It seems like a simple enough division, but in 2008, just how accurate is that division? Is there really a new media or is there just media?

Where is the line?

When one first considers the categories, it may seem obvious where the line between media and new media is on the surface. But think a little harder. Is streamed radio media? Or is it new media? What about the fact that newspapers are being read online more and more? How about YouTube? Isn’t that just television? And as for actual television nowadays, what with the choice, the ability to watch what you want, when you want, sophisticated storage and recording, it is a far cry from television of the mid 1980s. Surely that would fall into the category of ‘new’?

Perhaps if we look at new media in the context of its social aspect, but once again there are problems. In the UK, several of the national newspapers have adjusted their online versions to allow for social interaction in accordance with demand. Many allow for profiles, some have made room for user blogs, others have their front page constructed in accordance with the most popular stories as voted by the users. This indicates that the traditional form of media is shifting away from that traditional form, and ‘new media’ is becoming the norm.

Implicit judgement

Unfortunately, judgement is still implicit within the terms media and new media. The traditionalists prefer to retain the adjective because it allows for the continuation of the belief that it is ‘other’. With that continuation comes the suggestion that the traditional form of media is the one to be trusted. It is the one which has survived all this time, and if you want quality, you don’t dally with the ‘new’. As Sean Carton suggested over at ClickZ, the fact that new media is regarded as new implies that it is untested and still in an experimental stage. It is a pretty huge and long running experiment if this is the case.

No matter what the proponents of the media/new media divide may think, the world of information has irreversibly changed. There is no way that we will go back to gathering all of our knowledge from the daily newspaper delivered to our door or the 6.00 News on Channel 5. We are never again going to race in the door only to discover we have missed our favourite radio or television show by 15 minutes, or put aside everything else in order to watch it at the time the broadcasters dictate. ‘New Media’ has become mainstream, and therefore it isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’, as Carton described. It is a ‘must-have’ of any marketing strategy, and it is ignored at your peril.

Isn’t it all just media?

Steve Rubel summed it up succinctly

Maybe we can stop calling stuff “social media.” It’s all media – all of it. Things don’t fit in little boxes anymore.

Media is a means of communication. The internet may have been a new means of communication back in the 1990s, but I think almost 20 years on, it has probably graduated to the point where it no longer requires an adjective for legitimacy.

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Author: admin