“New forms of the media have made mainstream media redundant”. Discuss.

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The advent of the Internet has brought about radical change in the media industry. No longer are people confined to reading the newspapers for news, or watching the television for entertainment. Nowadays, with just one click of the mouse, people can access instantaneous information and news online, and the proliferation of online blogs and social networking sites such as Twitter threaten to make mainstream media such as the aforementioned newspapers and television a thing of the past. However, even as newer forms of media such as blogs continue to sprout and grow, I feel that mainstream media will not become increasingly redundant. This is due to the fact that mainstream media are adapting to suit the taste of consumers and that they are still an integral part of their lives, despite the introduction of new media.

Admittedly, the Internet has caused mainstream media to seem comparatively slower in its dissemination of news. For example, the Chicago Tribune has an official website, chicagotribune.com, where it posts instant news coverage before the newspapers hit the newsstands with the same information the following morning. The relatively faster speed of new media has caused many newspaper readers to instead rely on new media for the latest news. Thus, mainstream media could become redundant if the criterion for redundancy was solely based on speed.

However, that is not the case. New media rely heavily on citizen journalism for “on-the-ground” reports; mainstream media, on the other hand, use professional journalists, reports tasked with the sole purpose of uncovering each and every piece of information related to the news article they are writing. Herein lies the advantage: that mainstream media have a wider and deeper coverage than those of new media. In addition, mainstream media have connections to a wider spectrum of professionals that can give greater insight into the issue at hand, rather than just posting a factual account of the events that transpired. For example, during the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections, many bloggers only provided their personal opinions of both candidates, and their opinion on who was likely to win the election. In contrast, the New York Times invited experts to do a state-by-state analysis of the entire election, presenting the results in a full-page spread of the U.S. elections, culminating in a detailed map of the United States of America, showing which states the Democrats were likely to win, and which the Republicans were likely to win. Such an in-depth and broad coverage cannot be found in new media, when they do, they offer a much wider scope and more detailed analysis of the event, instead of merely a factual account. This definitely shows that mainstream media are still relevant today.

Another point to consider is that new media have a rather limited scope in terms of the information reported. For example, bloggers tend to report more on celebrity gossip and sports, which led to the setting up of sites such as perezhilton.com, Perez Hilton being a blogger who only focussed on reporting entertainment-based news. In comparison, mainstream media offer coverage on a wide area of fields, ranging from political, economic and scientific news, to entertainment news, sports news and even the quirky. In this respect, mainstream media have an inherent advantage over new media in the sense that they cover news on every conceivable area of interest, rather than just focussing on one specific field, like new media tend to do.

Also, mainstream media are adapting to take advantage of the Internet. In some cases, mainstream media are actually integrating themselves with new media to make them more relevant in today’s context. One example of this is the citizen journalism site STOMP, in which newspaper readers are invited to post news and pictures that they have uncovered. Every week, myPaper has a column specifically dedicated to STOMP, in which the column lists the top 10 newsworthy stories posted on the site. This shows that, rather than becoming redundant, mainstream media are actually embracing the Internet as an alternative platform to share news reports with their readers. The introduction of TODAYonline and Newslink shows that mainstream media have not become redundant; they have just changed to suit the growing importance of the Internet to people worldwide. Thus, mainstream media actually cater to both newspaper readers and people who prefer online content.

This integration of mainstream and new media does not only apply to news coverage, but also to the entertainment aspect of media. Shows that are currently showing on the television are frequently uploaded onto video- sharing websites such as YouTube and Hulu, showing that there is still a surging demand for mainstream shows shown on television. In fact, mainstream television shows still garner a high number of views, despite the growing surge of new media. The recent Nielson index shows that the just- concluded finale of “American Idol” was watched by over 50 million viewers in the U.S. alone. In fact, during the regular broadcasts of “American Idol”, Ryan Seacrest, the host of the show, frequently urged viewers to log on to fox.americanidol.com, the official site of the show, for “never-before-seen exclusive content, including behind-the-scenes coverage of the contestants”. This shows that new media can be a supplement to mainstream media, and that mainstream media are actually bolstered by the introduction of new media, not hindered. In fact, American Idol even has a Twitter and YouTube account, posting updates and key performances of each episodes of the show. This clearly shows that mainstream media have not become redundant by the introduction of new media, bur rather, are using the new forms of media to generate attention and interest for the television shows shown and covered by mainstream media themselves. If mainstream media are made redundant, why are people all across the globe still interested in whether Kris Allen or Adam Lambert becomes the new American Idol, a supposed “mainstream television show”? Why do people still discuss the death of Edie Britt, a main character on the hit ABC television show “Desperate Housewives” on blogs, Internet forums and Twitter? The reason is simple: mainstream media are still very much an integral component of their lives, and while they might embrace the relatively newer forms of media such as blogs, they are still accessing the content of mainstream media and posting their thoughts online.

In conclusion, mainstream media and new media actually coexist in the world today, and with the growing content of new media, mainstream media are actually capitalising on this growing trend to their advantage by collaborating and integrating themselves with new media to make them still relevant in this increasingly virtual-based world. Hence, new forms of media have not made mainstream media redundant; they have just caused mainstream media to adapt to the rising trend of Internet usage, and use this trend to their advantage.

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