15 July, 2010

The power of the internet

by Anorth Mabunda

As Africa reaches the pivotal point of the “third wave”, the talk of the day is the new media/internet. Because of its complexity, vastness and ability to offer unlimited space for debate, the internet stands the greatest compared to the traditional media which propagates ideologies and force its audience to play a passive role of watching, reading and listening.

You can write your comment to the editor of the newspaper but because of the very limited space your comment might not be published. You can try and call SA fm in an attempt to comment on a burning topic but their telephone line might happen to be full and you are going to lose more of your airtime (money).

With the internet the story is different, you are in a land where you can explore and write as you like at a very low cost. It’s funny how I am able to read the whole articles of the day in the Media-24 site at less than R1. Ever since falling in love with the new media, I have stopped my usual routine of cutting newspaper articles and stash them in to my flip file. The only thing I have to remember now is the web address or the words that were written in the Pretoria News’s banner as the taxi was moving fast by Andries street in Pretoria. Gone are the days when I have to bother my neighbour by asking for some previous newspapers, now I only need a R5 airtime and just type in the word “Julius” and in few seconds I would know all about the tenderpreneur saga and the” kill the Boer” racial slants.

Should I want to print my research, I just minimise the font size and have all my research in a single page and pay only R1 for print outs.
When we look at the communication evolution we see an old idea getting replaced by the new one e.g. the radio succeeded the word of mouth, the Television suppressed the radio with visuals, are we in the process whereby the newspaper will be eroded by the new media?

With the speculation that almost 95% of Africa’s black population is diagnosed with paperophia (fear of paper), are they also diagnosed with technophobia (fear of technology)? I remember the reactions of my fellow students in our first year when we were introduced to Facebook by our lecturer. Everyone was very agitated, others even called him a dictator but now I am sure from the bottom of their hearts they are thankful to him, they just can’t conceal their pride and tell him. This also shows to us how people are outside the university: more ignorant towards emerging technologies.

I have learnt that many journalism departments in Africa don’t offer online journalism, what a shame to the traditional journalists that they are endeavouring to produce in this globalised 21st century. TUT finally got an Online Journalism lecturer, thank God I am privileged.

Question of the day: Are we wasting time by having print media as a subject or field of specialist?

Quote of the day: “Cyberspace is sometimes described as a place to explore or discover but never to comprehend” (Dodge and Kitchen, 2000)

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