25 March 2009

The Mass Media Graveyard? I Don't Think So.

Can you imagine a life without print, radio, or TV? I honestly don't think I could. I recently watched a doc by the CBC called The End. There was a section on each of the three major forms of mass media: print, radio, and TV. You've got to be thinking, This is absurd! Actually that is what I thought, but I was semi-wrong. Web 2.0 and all that comes with it (blogs, vlogs, social networking, youtube, streaming video, podcasts, downloads, itunes, ipods, etc.), are slowly taking over the space that was once claimed by the these three media medium titans (the big three). So let's go through each of the 'big three' to discuss the serious problems brought up by each of these mini-docs.

The End: Radio
As someone who is personally involved in the radio scene, I care deeply about is going to happen to it in the future. I've recently started doing a radio show on UWO's station, CHRW 94.9, and I can't tell you how fulfilling it is to put a certain brand of music out there for public consumption. But sadly, the radio as well know it is disappearing. Radio is switching to podcasts, streaming broadcasts, myspace, and digitial radio. The trick here is for radio to adapt. I think this is the goal with all three mediums. CHRW already let's users listen to streaming live radio on their website and they have podcasts for shows available for download. So it doesn't matter to me that 10 million people are now listening to satellite radio, because it is still radio. It may be digital, but that is where everything is headed anyways. Radio has to adapt or it will be left behind with the telegraph and other extinct forms of mass media. Just to give you an example of how much is based on online representation now: I asked a DJ friend of mine in Toronto to send me a CD of one of his mixes so I could play it on my radio show. He said that he would just rather have people check out his website with downloadable mixes online because it offered more exposure. I was blown away, but this really makes you realize that podcasts and downloadable music content is the future.

The End: Print
I grew up reading the paper. I know I'm a few years older than most kids in my university classes, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers sitting down at the kitchen table on Sunday mornings eating breakfast while my grandfather read the paper and told some jokes out of the comic section. When the news reports the death of big newspapers that have been going for over 150 years in the States and around, I get scared. There is something to be said for seeing a story in print. Recently the Ann Arbor News near Detroit announced it would stop printing daily papers. Instead, they would only print Thursday and Sunday editions; the rest would be online. Their reason for this was that everything was available online for free. And yes, this is true. I'm not the only one who has given up the paper for the most part for the instant fix of online news sites. It is easier to find the stories that you want and links that are similar to what you what to find out about. It is all about instant gratification. Newspapers just can't keep up. Newspapers are the only medium of the 'big three' that I have real concern over losing. Heck, even magazine readership is down. As more content is put online for our never-ending consumption, newspapers and print media suffer. Blogs offer commentary that can't fully be offered by traditional print media, and that is part of the appeal to the online community; anyone can become a famous author, even if it's writing about cupcakes, travel, or your dog.
Traditional print media makes this goal very hard to accomplish for the average Joe, because it requires more work than the majority of us are willing to put in. A blog simply requires you to babble at the least.
Actually, I'm not that concerned about print media disappearing, because I don't think it ever truly will. Along with radio, there is a need and want for it to succeed. It is instilled within the psyche of Americans and Canadians alike. Marconi sent the first radio wave here in Canada and the United States has had so much significant history made by the radio. It is a part of our history and the nostalgia it creates is not something the public wants to get rid of any time soon. Heck, who wants to read a novel online anyways, as The End puts it. It's much more convenient to flip through it at your own convenience.

The End: TV
I have no doubt TV will stand strong against its online competitors. Just because you can download a movie or watch a TV show online on streaming video now does not mean we will quit watching television. TV still has a bright future. If you don't think so, then tell me why Grey's Anatomy or 24 or Desperate Houswives has such a strong following, or why the Dancing with the Stars premier had the highest viewership in its history this month. Its true that internet sites such as Youtube offer new channels for media that can't be seen on the TV medium, but that will not dictate its disappearance. Vlogs are a compliment to TV in my opinion. Vlogs are online journals and tellings to various people via a webcam or video camera. This will not take away the need for the local news though. Although it may be in decline, I still make time to watch the local news every night so I can know what's going on in my community. The internet doesn't always foster the same connection that the TV can make to us. Even file-sharing doesn't fully cut it for everybody. Yes, it is great to just download movies, series, or individual shows, but it will never take away the experience of actually going to a movie or watching a sitcom at home with your boyfriend on the couch. I think television will definitely change along with radio and print, but they will never disappear.

Find the CBC videos here!


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