The new media-speed of light communication


For some years now, the new media has taken center stage as the source of news among busy people who have little time to read the papers or watch the news on TV. New media or online media, as the new player on the block, has outpaced and upstaged traditional media as we know it. People who are mostly online rely on news feeds that come to them via their social media apps.

Technology has come to influence not just our reading habits and preferences but our way of life. It is not uncommon for example, for two people sitting in a room to text or email each other rather than talk to each other. In another scene, it is common to see family members in a room lost in their own world. Rather than communicate with each other, they would rather chat with friends on their favourite gadgets. Face to face communication has given way to social media communication.

In classroom settings, students usually use their cell phones to take pictures of the slide presentations or ask to copy the notes from a teacher’s presentation through a USB or request to have it sent to them through email. A class is grouped together for coordination purposes through FB group chat or an email group address. Communication and coordination has become easy and immediate.

In contrast, life before technology took over was simple and slow. It took longer for some things to be done. Take love letters between lovers, for example. In the early 80s, lovers wrote to each other and sent letters via air mail, which took two weeks to get to the loved one, who happened to live abroad. The receiver will then write his/ her reply which will take another two weeks to arrive. Meanwhile, fast forward to the present. A FB message would just take seconds to get to the receiver; people can do video conferencing and video call through the miles. Technology has made the world smaller and communication faster.

The fast pace of communication through technology can also be seen in news reporting. In reporting car accidents, for example, people using the “Waze” app in their cars can actually report on accidents on the roads as they happen and send the information to TV news reporters. In no time, this information is reported as part of the news. And this happens in real time. However, there is also a down side to this practice. Now that virtually anyone can report current events in their localities as they happen, there is always the probability of some “fake news” popping up, masquerading as real news. We see this in the fake news of celebrities reported to have died or met an accident. We need to be more discerning in filtering out the fake news from the real news.

Traditional newspapers have editors who act as “gatekeepers” of information, filtering out unverified facts and opinions. There is also a need to have an online media gatekeeper to ensure that only real news are posted online, facts are true and sources are credible and trustworthy. Facts and figures must always be verified and backed up by supporting pieces of evidence.

As we rejoice in the fast pace of technology and in the wonderful things we can do with them to make our lives easier, we also need to ensure that the old principles of truth, justice and balanced, fair play are still practiced in media.