What is New Media? According to the Encyclopaedia, it is ‘forms of communicating in the digital world, primarily online via the internet.’ Today, it is the news portal, mobile apps, blogs, social media platforms that fall under the umbrella of new media. And with the dynamism that we see in the digital world, it is impossible to forecast the platform or what the new media format will be in the next 12 months.
These developments of the 21st century have changed the way we consume news through print and TV media to dynamic, speedy and live updates. This has brought a paradigm shift in the form, structure and style of journalism. In developing nations, where traditional methods still thrive in the majority pockets of the country, learning and teaching journalism needed an academic revamp to pace up with the global intrusion of technologies in daily life. In the digital era, journalism is racing. Journalists are now exposed to multitude platforms, be it in print, video or cyberspace. Also, the advent of smart gadgets, permeable geographic barriers, younger demographics and cultural inclusivity have added to the urgency to revamp.
Journalism is constantly and directly impacted by the changing nature of technology, so much so that with every new technology or platform, the need to be accurate and first-to-report is exalted. While there are a plethora of options to communicate and collaborate, it is essential for institutions to seed in the right education in new-age journalists to ensure a sustainable and successful career. Institutions today need to build future journalists with the right acumen and instil the philosophy of the profession.
With the advent of new news delivery systems such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, aspiring communication specialists have to prepare themselves beyond speed. Now, accuracy of information commands a premium, but without losing any speed. And this ‘speed with accuracy’ would differentiate between professional journalists and social media enthusiasts. Therefore, in this era of instant verification, the success of a good professional journalist would be judged by the credibility of his or her information.
The structure and function of today’s newsrooms are changing. Journalists are expected to master both telegraphic news tweets as well as over 1000-word long format stories. They also need to visualise stories to serve consumers glued to channels such as TV and YouTube. They are also expected to communicate from the traditional through 15-seconders for Snapchat, Instagram; the same time their challenge is to produce well-researched documentaries. Hence, it is important for students to learn how to adapt their stories to different media which would reach out to different target groups. Therefore, new-age media curriculum must do an intelligent convergence of the skills required for all channels— traditional as well as modern—and also train them to effectively communicate with different sets of readers, listeners and viewers. For example, the millennials may consume a story through a photo blog than a long format story while the business community might want to read detailed articles analysing certain economic policies.
Today, the information is flowing at a lightning speed, hitting us instantly. This is the power of the Digital Age. In such a scenario, the real challenge is to transform a volley of information into news so that it remains relevant for a larger group than the target audience, which was easily defined by traditional newspapers and TV news channels. The Digital Age has solely changed the way one consumes news today. News is being consumed in shorter capsules instantly on our mobile devices rather than at relaxation with a cup of tea through a newspaper or on television.
The advent of new media such as news apps has further brought in a revolutionary change in how a journalist needs to write and report a story befitting consumption on these mediums. Today’s fast-growing digital companies may become the media behemoths of tomorrow. Therefore, it is inevitable that journalism and mass media colleges bring their curriculum up to pace to ensure that the students learn what the industry requires. Relevant knowledge of technology with traditional skillsets – interpreting data, visual skills, language, reporting, editing, writing, layouts, analysis and camera skills have become a few essentials that the students need to be equipped with.
The Digital Age has brought in a gamut of opportunities for the millennials. Whether it is a blogger, content curator, social listener plus content writer, the avenues have grown. Bloggers, in fact, have emerged as persons with careers having a high earning potential, and in a few cases, more than their traditional counterparts in addition to having a huge fan following.
Academic institutes need to have media programmes that offer exciting and enriching international experiences, internships and collaborative live industry projects to train and immerse them into the new-age career. For a holistic learning process, students need to have an opportunity to work with digital media organisations, traditional print, production houses and other professional organisations. This is a gap for many students currently pursuing journalism as today, to have a career in journalism, everyone wants to see the student’s portfolio before giving them a chance to prove themselves.
Colleges now have a greater responsibility than just preparing students to be journalists. In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, students have to be prepped to adapt to any and every way of journalism and communication medium. This will help them stay prepared for any turn that professional journalism might take. Institutes not only have to prepare students for their professional careers but also for life, which will help the students stay in the game and be ready for anything they might face.
The core value for anyone pursuing journalism has to be ‘Ethics and Accuracy that will guide them to a successful professional career’.
(Meha Jayaswal is Area Head, School of Media & Journalism, Pearl Academy)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com