Monday, March 23, 2009

The End of Print, Radio and Television?

CBC Newsworld’s three-part documentary The End, featuring The End of Print, The End of Radio, and The End of Television, has left me considering the declining power of the mass media. The documentaries, which originally aired in 2006, effectively tackled the possibility of new trends surpassing the traditional discourses, through raising questions, interviewing sources, and focusing on emerging communication options. Even bloggers take much of their information from these sources, so there must be some hope.

Like many, I receive most of my information from the internet. I browse newspapers, read books, download music, and watch my favourite television shows online. It would seem that I have progressed into instant information gratification, with just the click of a button. This threat to the mainstream media has left many, including myself, wondering if there is a chance for those who do not embrace the internet and make use of Web 2.0. The End of Print notes that newspaper circulation is in decline, and some are struggling to make effective use of the internet as an alternative way to reach their audience. However, this does not apply to all newspapers, as the London Free Press is checked daily on my computer.

The End of Radio suggests that commercial radio is fading as a result of a need to personalize one’s playlist. Terrestrial radio no longer suffices, as iPods and satellite radio puts the music back in the hands of the citizen dj’s. As humans we need to connect, whether in the form of radio, or the most recent song sent from an RSS feed directly to one’s computer by another user. I would argue that radio, like newspapers, are slowly but definitely making advancements in the way they reach online users. Not only are local stations accessible, but radio stations from around the world are available to listen to through online streaming, and radio podcasts.

One interviewee in The End of Television suggested that “the dinosaurs are not going to die, they are going to survive. With major networks losing youth all-together, it is no surprise that television has become unplugged, and is now connected through the internet. This type of viewing allows consumers to watch television wherever they happen to be. Since viewing habits have changed ever since the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1990, television corporations must also work to ensure their material appeals to a society brought up on the internet. This includes shorter attention spans and an urge for appealing and interesting information.

Mainstream media's dominant role as a provider of information, is threatened by the continuous development of the internet and World Wide Web. However, there is a great opportunity for them to advance alongside this ever-changing phenomenon, which was made clear to me after viewing these interesting documentaries.


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