Access to information was never that easy, before the World Wide Web engulfed the globe and transcended through continents. This made our lives easier, faster and distances didn’t seem that long. Like anything else, ‘journalism’ imbibed the technological waves as its foremost requirement. There is a ‘ocean of information’ in the digital world that doesn’t accept boundaries. Internet evolved in a way, which turned out to be conducive for ‘content-generation’. Web 2.0 made ‘self-publishing’ easy and cost-effective by assigning users with the reciprocal role of ‘communicators’ and ‘audience’. The long tail phenomenon ensures unlimited shelf-life for archiving data. Social media have democratized the sources of online production and distribution. This isn’t going away for it has worked for web owners around the world from Google to Facebook.
However, analysts differ on what impact will this have on traditional print media outlets. They have a reason to diverge, technology is not the same everywhere and media literacy is a distant target for most of the developing countries. These prerequisites are essential for replacing traditional media or at least, competing with it. This is the reason that in some parts of the world social media has started to redefine old ‘media practices’.
At the Mashable media Summit of 2012, Jessica Bennett (editorial executive of Tumblr) revealed that Tumblr’s traffic is three times that of The New York Times and CNN. There are more than 80 million blogs and 170 million users, more than 50% of whom are under 30. Daniel Roth, executive director of LinkedIn argued that: ‘LinkedIn has taken out the middle man – because journalists used to interview a source, now the source can write content himself.’
In July 2012, Syed Talat Hussain a seasoned journalist and T.V anchor from Pakistan expressed his views about the burgeoning blogosphere in Pakistan. According to Talat, bloggers are not journalists as they lack journalistic traits of accountability and responsibility.
On the other hand, in Mexico, four bloggers have been murdered this year as a warning to those who want to use social media for reporting nano-crime. A Syrian blogger was burnt to death while reporting from the city of Hama (Syria), using a pseudonym. In India, two Facebook users were arrested by a hard lined rightist party, Shiv Sena for posting a status about the party’s be late leader Bal Thackeray. Whether or not they are journalists, but they have started to face the same fate. Journalists are now also reporting in the traditional mainstream media about the Tweets of politicians.
There are several examples that predict the involvement of Online Journalism and Social media in the future of media. It might be a unique marriage between the traditional and the innovative forms. Whatever mould it decides, redefinition of the media is something likely to happen, the difference will lie in the access to technology and the extent to which journalists are trained keeping in view their media literacy rates.