e-Merging Media: Challenges for Traditional Media in Nigeria

Has the Internet come to replace the traditional mainstream media? This is a question I believe you have asked at one point or the other, which you are …

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twitterHas the Internet come to replace the traditional mainstream media? This is a question I believe you have asked at one point or the other, which you are about to find the answer. The truth is media has evolved over the years with technological advancements.

 Al Ries and Laura Ries in their book-22 Immutable Laws of Branding said, “No media has ever replaced an existing medium. A new medium changes existing media, but it does not replace them.” The new media is the emergence of digital, computerized or networked information and communications technology with the Internet as the face that carries it.

 The role of the new media is to modify the activities of the traditional media to reach a wider audience in a different dimension and speed. With the undisputable fact that Information and data are the must important essence of media, how this information is channeled and distributed is determined by the speed of the medium used in conveying it. We now have information being channeled through different smart forms like mobile devices, smart cameras, SMS platforms, information gadgets, web applications, computer applications and the rest of them.

 We know in time past, the original mass communication medium was the human voice, which is still in existence and very effective in sending messages but that has been modified by the advent of books which increased the number of people that could be reached by an individual with a wider coverage per time.

 The newspapers came with the attribute of news of latest happenings and showed a greater speed of reaching the people with information and news than the books. But when radio came, it added the attributes of voice, news and entertainment. Televison came with flavors of motion pictures, now we have the Internet, which has the advantage of interactivity between user and user, user and information, which no media have been able to achieve.

 Marshall Mcluhan (a media expert) opined that the medium is the message, experts further believe that the power to change the course and functioning of human relations and activities is the vital role the medium does.

 The demand for fast, fresh, hot, in-depth and timeless information –on- the- go has put pressure on the traditional mainstream media. People especially the upwardly mobile group of the society are turning to the new media to get their information, they would have heard it first on the Internet. The new media has come to change the way we live and do business; we now have e-commerce, e-government, e voting, e-agriculture, e- learning, e-publishing etc.

 It has also changed the business aspect of media, for example, advertisement, which is a major revenue source for mainstream media will not be as rosy as it used to be, new media advertisement will shift to the web and mobile devices with time because adverts on the new media is highly targeted, the advertiser has several options online to subscribe to and pays for the number of people that sees his or her advert. This has helped more businesses especially the small business embrace advertisement.

 To show you how powerful the new media are, just recently Clickatell, a mobile media and marketing firm was recognized for deploying live SMS messaging campaign to more than 150 countries during President Obama’s visit to Cairo and Ghana. That SMS made people from those countries participate interactively real-time and have a voice during President Obama’s speeches. With traditional media such feat wouldn’t have been achieved, they are limited by boundaries and lack interactivity.

 The new media changed the way journalism is done; we now have participatory journalism where everyone who has something to say finds it easy to say it quickly and conveniently without being edited. Though some has argued that this has come with little or no form of professionalism or laws; it sure has its advantages:

 The new media, which use websites, blogs, online videos, mobile devices as tools, have come to break geographical barriers making the world a global village where information and communication is shared with increased speed and volume. It has provided opportunities for interactive communication that sparks up social rapid changes.

 It has also impacted the economic growth and globalization as communications firms, CT and IT organizations and companies has increased. Creating employment opportunities. It has also created with it a community known as virtual community, which educates, oganises, shares culture, coalition and common interest.

 How soon and well we embrace the realities of these new media in Nigeria goes a long way in determining the extent we experience these benefits. The approach of traditional media to the new media will determine how true the realities we have at hand are showing a replacement or not, the new media has come to improve the role of the mainstream media.

 The on- going economic recession has taken its toll on many traditional media cutting down their advert revenues and some smart ones among them have also used this period to explore the use of new media as a way out. You now see some newspaper companies taking to online publishing which should be encouraged.

 The web 2.0 feature of the Internet has given birth to its use for communication and for business depending on which side of the divide you are. Basically, using this medium effectively demands a good knowledge of how it works.

 In my consulting job for businesses to leverage this new media especially the Internet, I have made it clear that you cannot use the same strategies that work in other media for Internet, it’s a new medium and requires a new approach. So transition to online medium should follow a well thought out plan for businesses. It requires you to know the 17 unbeatable laws of Internet Marketing (check www.techtrendsng.com). To effectively use the Internet as a powerful communication tool, you need to understand the importance and use of email communication, search engines, e-zines (electronic magazines), social media like the facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forum, e-groups.

 The Era of Social Media

Social media are free social networking websites that enable users communicate with each other within a large virtual community.

 Facebook is one the fastest growing social networking website on the Internet with over 250 million users world wide, founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004. It is a free-access website organized by city, workplace, school, region to connect and interact with people.

 Facebook affords users great interactivity and personalization. Facebook in some countries is seen as a welcomed development that drives social changes, For example, Facebook was very instrumental to the victory of President Obama of the United States, as great support was mobilized via facebook for his elections.

 Facebook is seen, as a tool that brought that needed change. In places like China, Syria and Iran the use of facebook has been banned from their web sphere at one point or the other by their government.

Apart from it being a tool for social change it has also become a veritable tool for marketing communication.

 Twitter which is another social networking and micro-blogging website that enables its users send and read each other’s updates called tweets.

 Recently, this tool served as agent of change in Iran crises, achieving what traditional media couldn’t achieve. Twitter was used to give daily reports and happenings to the world on Iran crisis. At the heat of this crisis, over 221,000 Iran tweets were sent in an hour, 3,000 Iranian videos were uploaded on YouTube, and 2.2 million blog entries were posted. (Source: F@stClick newspaper).

 That made twitter to be nominated for Nobel Peace Price because it empowered the people of Iran in attempt to resolve their domestic crises, which brought support and sympathy from the world. That goes to show how powerful these social media could be.

 Blogs, Bloggers, Blogging and the Blogosphere

A weblog shortened as Blog is a type of website usually maintained by an individual, it serves as an online journal or diary, which is constantly updated with events, commentary, descriptions, articles, news, videos, etc. In fact different blogs exist on different subject matter; we have video blogs, photoblogs, mobile blogs, techblogs, personal blogs, corporate blogs etc.

Over the Internet there are many blogs and bloggers making up the Blogosphere, which is a community of all blogs.  According to Technorati there are over 112 million blogs on the Internet.

 An interesting feature of the blog is the ability of readers to add their comments thereby making it very interactive. A blog can also serve as an agent of social change, blogs are not easily suppressed, and sometimes they point the way for traditional media to follow their lead. Experts in different fields now blog making blogs have in-depth analysis.

 Blogs and bloggers like every other medium have heard some legal consequences, some bloggers have lost their jobs because they blogged on issues concerning their workplace. Some have been charged to court and imprisoned.

 Blogs for business purposes help you interact directly with your customers and get the required feedback for your business. You can reach more customers through this medium. Your blog helps increase your brand/product awareness; you can also use your blog to find out competition in your industry.

 Blogs help to position your business with the search engines and this will help you drive traffic to your website and business, Test new business idea with your blog that will reduce your research and development costs, it also reduce advertising costs.

 Having x-rayed the benefits here, they are not without their limitations, one of such is the issue of cyber attack from criminal on social media, then issues of national security is another point being raised.

 Nigeria traditional media should embrace the new media and leverage from its many possibilities. Our media houses should have strong online presence. They should extend their followership online by having a virtual community of readers, listeners, movie fans etc. This will make them more relevant in today’s world.

 With that said, whether the Internet will replace other medium of mass communications is what we need to find out and the best way to find out is to keep on reading our blog.

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