Media have always played a major role in our lives. In olden days, people carved stories on stones and temples. Today we have known a lot about those days by seeing the sculptures carved on such stones. With the invention of paper, it made it easier for people to know about the happenings around the world through newspapers, magazines, banners, posters, leaflets, pamphlets etc.
But now with the advent of electronic media like Radio, television, Internet, which have moving images, facilitate easy understanding; is it really the end of print media?
Why Electronic Media?
On an electronic media, screen glare, font size and website layout can seriously affect readability. Which of these is easier? Reading a 600 page novel on your laptop or holding the novel in hand and reading it while lying on your bed? If a person does not mind shelling out some money, he/she would choose the second option since LCDs hurt our eyes. But these days with the invention of e-book readers, even this problem does not exist. E-book readers like Kindle use paper-like ink display which makes it easier to read books and carry thousands of books everywhere you go. You can download a newspaper within seconds from the remotest corner of the world. If you do not want to spend money on these costly devices, you can still read news at your fingertips on your mobile phones, which almost every person can afford to buy these days. With the invention of Internet, a person in a different country can read news about his native country just by having an access to a computer or laptop. These days, people can listen to radio on even their mobile phones, thus making it easy to listen to them even while travelling.
There are chances that the paper can deteriorate with time and hence the records can get wiped out. Now that the storage is getting really cheap, it is easier to take multiple backups of data and thus archival is easier with an electronic media. Also with the usage of various search tools, it is easier to search for a file or image on a computer, than searching manually in cupboards. Information is available sitting at home to people, which they would previously find by browsing in a library. It is easier to grab people’s attention by showing them a visual or a video than dumping them with a lot of text and few still images. Not everyone can read print media and for such illiterate people, TV would be helpful.
Electronic media is more environment friendly – the lesser the paper used, the lesser the trees that are chopped off. It is faster than any other kind of media; for example, if there was an earthquake or a hurricane somewhere, you can instantly watch the damages caused by it on the Television within minutes. Live streaming has helped us in watching tennis/football matches taking place in a different country on TV. Anything that we watch on TV remains in our memory for a longer time. For example, we still remember Sachin’s ad on TV where he says “Boost is the secret of my energy”, but how many of us remember Boost’s ad that came in the local newspaper? These days anyone can open an account online and start blogging. This way people can use the electronic media to convey a message to hundreds and thousands of people easily. RSS feeds help us in keeping ourselves up to date with the information available of the net.
Electronic media these days includes these:
· Social Networking sites where one can meet millions of people – FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn.
· Information can also be shared via the phones through Twitter.
· Sharing Audio/Video through YouTube, FaceBook.
· Digital Photos can be shared using FlickR, Picasa, Facebook.
. Various contests, polls, surveys, asking/answering questions, commenting on information on the Internet.
. Searching and watching videos/news clips/interviews on Youtube.
Why Print Media?
The longevity of written media is much more than the electronic ones. It is the written media which has made history recordable and accurate. The age of an old manuscript found while digging a historical site gives information about the era in which it was written, which is not possible with electronic media. Print media is durable, whereas a small virus or a bug in the software can erase the most important data needed from a computer.
Anyone can anonymously post articles and raise their voices. It is difficult to track the real owner of an article. With electronic media, anyone can copy any piece of information and present it as his own; plagiarism is at its peak these days. There is no means to determine which of the two websites have authentic data. Rumors and lies circulate all over the Internet and hence the legitimacy of the information becomes questionable. The information provided by a newspaper is usually more authentic and genuine. TV is a very popular media these days but with so many channels available to watch, there are fewer chances of more people watching an advertisement or a show on a particular channel and hence there is no guarantee about viewership, whereas a family which subscribes to a newspaper would definitely go through it on a daily basis.
Electronic media depends mainly on electricity. In areas with frequent power cuts or in the rural areas, it is not a viable replacement for newspapers. Print media is easily accessible and widely read. Anyone can buy it since it is cheaper and available in the remotest of the villages. In a country like India, subscribing to newspapers is cheaper than taking an Internet connection. Print media is local to the city or the region and carries information about the local events like a play being screened in the town or an inter-school chess tournament. Even if you read a nice article online, what are the chances that you will store it and re-read? Searching for the article will take forever amidst the GBs of data that you have. I read Stanford commencement speech by Steve Jobs and I liked it so much that I took printout of it and kept it in my drawer, because I wanted to re-read later. It is easier to locate a piece of paper in your drawer than locate a file among the 120 GB data that you have on your hard disk. On TV, the quality of news is deteriorating these days because of the competition between the channels. They try to sensationalize the news unnecessarily in an attempt to increase viewership.
Even though both kinds of media have their own pros and cons, can we survive without any one of them? I don’t think so. When Tsunami attacked, I saw video clips on the TV. Watching the video of the destruction live is better than visualizing it with a few photos in newspaper. But I also read about it in detail in the next day’s newspapers. The newspapers had the information in greater detail, depth and also had images which were not shown on TV. According to me, both types of media can exist simultaneously and neither of them will perish. These days many print media are also available in electronic forms. I used to read Indian newspapers online when I was in USA. But I also liked reading the local newspapers there which came in the print media format. Print media has been around from so many centuries and the reason why it has survived for so long is the reason why it will not die in the future. We must not compare these two forms of media as they both have their own importance.
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Image courtesy : Rumya, the Garfixis from Indiana Legends