NEW MEDIA: A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

New media has evolved vastly over the last decade. The internet, along with social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, allows information to be shared instantly, without a hindrance of time or space. Anyone can become a publisher of news with new media. It doesn’t take much for someone to witness an event, take a photo and share it to Facebook.

In the case of a major world event, new media takes over. Ordinary people, whose job is not to distribute news stories, are constantly posting updates about what is happening around them. For one example, when the shooting occurred at the gay club in Orlando people inside the club were tweeting as it was happening. This is much faster than any news station would be on the scene.

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This poses a couple of different problems. First of all, new media seemingly makes traditional media, like newspapers for example, seem completely obsolete. By the time a reporter finds a story, writes it, takes it to an editor, gets it printed the story is already a day or more old. Newspapers are already out of date by the time they are published compared to information found on the internet.

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The other major issue with everyone having the ability to “publish news” is that sources are never reliable. People are constantly warned about not believing everything they read online. People can easily lie, and even if a person doesn’t intentionally post wrong information, it’s easy for someone to make a mistake.

When asked what she thought about new media in regards to world events, Dawn Beattie, editor at CTV Edmonton said “Be careful of misinformation. Everyone with a cell phone thinks they can be an amateur journalist.”

One of the positive features of new media is that it allows for people to connect. Traditional media is mainly one-way communication. You read a story in a newspaper written by a journalist and that’s it. You read a tweet about someone who lost all of their belongings during the Fort McMurray wild fire and you can retweet it, share it to your Facebook page and all of a sudden it becomes extremely easy to connect with like-minded people and become involved in helping others.

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New media really allows for a strong sense of community, especially during a major world event when people need other people. It’s amazing to see how people can come together in a time of crisis, and new media has really bridged that gap in communication that never existed with traditional media.

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