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Amy Martin (100320243)

The Impact of New Technologies in Media Industries and Journalism


The Internet has transformed how people live, work, shop, and communicate. Its
impact on business, research, global politics, and communication cannot be
underestimated (IBM, 2014). The Internet is a network to educate, explore, share,
discuss, inspire, and do so much more. Technology has become an indispensible
resource that is being leveraged by citizens and organizations alike; impacting the
content and quality of media received by audiences for the good and in some cases for
bad. Inherently, the Internet has transformed into a quintessential component of human
life and behaviour. Furthermore, people can become journalists through the power of
the Internet since there is the freedom to document and share whatever is important to
that individual. The Internet has allowed media corporations and non-profits to reach out
to audiences on a global scale, whether it is for economic gain or social change. In this
way, the Internet has allowed media to transcend geographic and social barriers that
could not be done before with television and print alone.
The sprawling network is ingrained in the daily lives of so many and continues to be
a revolutionary technological frontier (IBM, 2014). The Internet has become so essential
that it has been deemed a human right by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
who guarantees freedom of expression across all media and all frontiers (United
Nations General Assembly, 2011). The rise of the Internet and ability to quickly
disseminate information with ease has led to the conception of citizen journalism.
Citizen journalism is a specific form of both citizen media and user generated content; a
rousing movement that invites audiences to become more than mere consumers, but
prosumers who are engaged citizens with power to disseminate information and ideas
using technology (Cisco, 2008, p.1). Citizen journalists see media as a place to meet
and discuss with other people on a public platform, however it is limiting in the sense
that it does not contribute professional content to the information system. Regardless
citizen journalism may soon be recognized as a fourth tier to McChesneys three tier
media industry concept (Rich Media, Poor Democracy, 2003). The citizen journalism

Amy Martin (100320243)

movement gives everyone the power to be a reporter; translating audience participation


into a form of journalism.
The World Summit on the Information Society acknowledged that the free flow of
information and ideas is essential for peace, progress, social development and human
rights (United Nations General Assembly, 2011). The Internet is a powerful and
influential advocacy tool when placed in the hands of non-profit organizations as it
provides a new way of producing high quality journalism and a simple means to
distribute content. Historically there has been a negative correlation between freedom of
expression and conflicts, nevertheless WITNESS is a great example of an international
non-profit that uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations that
happen daily (Amnesty International, 2014). They bring unseen images and untold
stories to the attention of key decision makers, the media, and general public in an effort
to start a grassroots movement of lasting change. The organization empowers people to
transform their personal stories of abuse, using technology, to create a powerful digital
tool to fight injustice. The goal is to promote public engagement and place pressure on
those in power of policy change to act (WITNESS Annual Report, 2012). On the
organizations journey to increase visibility and impact globally, WITNESS has impacted
80 countries with 100 human rights campaigns led by over 4500 human rightsdefenders (WITNESS Annual Report, 2012). A recent campaign led by WITNESS
surrounded the Arab Spring movement where social media was used to organize civil
uprisings against torture and youth participation in elections. Web proxies are used to
circumvent government censorship efforts and maintain online anonymity. WITNESS
trained 25 activists and produced 6 videos documenting the human rights abuses
(WITNESS Annual Report, 2012). The videos were featured on Elma7rosa.org and
gained international acclaim through screenings in Cairo and Aswan with government
officials and civil society activists. Essentially, WITNESS breaks the divide between
human rights issues and media by leveraging technology to present advocacy
movement in an innovative way.

Amy Martin (100320243)

Citizen journalists and media corporations are both driven to increase their content
reach and grow audience viewership. In the past decade, numerous media
conglomerates have expanded significantly for economic reasons and because of lax
consolidation regulations. One of the myths that McChesney raises is that capitalism is
not based on competition, but rather on defeating competition. Therefore, it is in the
best interest of media corporations to become conglomerates because there is less risk
and competition to impede one from increasing audience reach and revenue streams
(Rich Media, Poor Democracy, 2003). The American media system is the result of
government policies created by the Federal Communications Commission to represent
the publics interest. However the current state of the media industry is a far cry from its
original intent due to the corruption, extreme influence of lobbyists, vested investors,
and lack of interest to serve public needs. There is a lack of diverse content and unfair
competition because of the size media conglomerates have grown to in recent years.
Journalism is one of the central problems that face a democracy. To have a
democratic society it is necessary for the media industry to be full of vibrant, healthy
journalism. Journalism needs to hold the people in power accountable and offer a wide
range of opinions on the important issues so people can formulate their own opinions
(Rich Media, Poor Democracy, 2003). The truth must prevail and facts must be check to
ensure that factual accuracy emerges. In recent years, a barrier has been built in the
world of journalism with editors and reports on one side and owners and investors on
the other side. Until this barrier is removed, the owners of media conglomerates will
continue to give journalists little to no autonomy because in their eyes this is a
financially poor decision. Less autonomy means fewer resources, less investigative
work, less controversial work, more puff pieces, and more celebrity gossip (Hickey,
1998, pp. 1-2). The demand against commercially focused media is not a revolutionary
concept, but rather has existed for decades. Commercially focused media is a bias built
into journalism and has a stronger presence than ever (Almiron, 2010, pp. 2-3). The
integration of advertising into media limits the range of choices available to report on
because the content needs to be suited to a selected segment that is being targeted.
The fundamental goal of media conglomerates is financially-based. In order to increase

Amy Martin (100320243)

profits, corporations need to increase audience size and provide content to that suit the
segments advertisers are targeting (Development factors of the media system, 2014,
pp. 3-4). The integration of advertising in media tends to result in the coverage of issues
that may be considered objectionable or off-market ignored because it does not align
with financial strategies.
The bias centers around the source, context, and investigative topics of the
media presented to the masses. In other words, the corporate news media has a
vested interest in the corporate system" (McChesney, 2008, p. 52). The big six US
media conglomerates have revenues significantly more than any other media company
in the country despite the negative impacts of the economic downturn: Time Warner
(US$34 billion), Walt Disney (US$24 billion), News Corporation (US$22 billion), General
Electric (US$17 billion), CBS (US$11 billion), and Viacom (US$9 billion) (Almiron, 2010
p.5). The reason these media conglomerates are not turning even higher revenues is
not because of the advertising or financial economic downturn, but rather because
media industries are very unhealthy capital market right now. The business strategy to
grow as fast and as large as possible is the reason for the crisis and consequences.
Nearly all of them have holdings in all main communication sectors (i.e., television,
radio, film, print publishing, and the Internet) but remain focused on broadcasting
content. It is well-known that shares in nearly every major media conglomerate are
traded on one or more stock exchanges (Almiron, 2010, p. 9). This is because playing in
the top media league means becoming capital-demanding, and being listed in stock
markets is the fastest way to gain access to capital resources. What has made news
media an industry that requires large amounts of money has been the confluence of two
main elements in the past decades: growth pressures due to concentration trends and
hi-tech transformation due to technological change. Although the technology now allows
the production of all kinds of media content far more easily, investing a lot of money
does not translate into higher quality content.
As audiences drift from traditional media to online digital media, peoples
confidence in news organizations continue to decline. In 2005, a study led by Professor

Amy Martin (100320243)

Diezhandino showed that the production of original media had reduced dramatically to
nearly 10% (Control over the agenda and its effects, 2014, Slide 3). In regards to the
credibility of journalists in media industries today, 35% of news coverage is not backed
by any form of evidence or source (Control over the agenda and its effects, 2014, Slide
3). In 2009, another study coordinated by Professor Diezhandino confirmed that 90 % of
media production is influenced in some manner by the pre-set agendas of media
corporations, mainly political and economic ones (Control over the agenda and its
effects, 2014, Slide 3). Pre-set agendas are "the submission of the fundamental right to
information to a privatized form of freedom of expression, commercially orientated,
subjected to interests outside the political reference which inspires the very concept of
freedom of expression under the rule of law" (Pre-set agenda theory, 2014, p. 2). The
dual action of the pre-set agenda means owners become prescribers that limit the
action of the media in two directions: defining the values of influence of their media and
omitting information to create shaded areas in how the audience perceives reality. The
pre-set agenda symbolizes the framework of interests that determine the limitations of
journalists prior to their work. Journalists freedom, in terms of defining, evaluating and
ranking information, is subjected to such guidelines.
The rise of the Internet and changing technologies has influenced the content
presented by prosumers, citizen journalists, and media conglomerates. The Internet is a
powerful tool used to create and share information and ideas easily with others. A tool
so powerful it unites people across the world over shared interests and inspires passion
into some to become citizen journalists; translating audience participation and shared
stories into journalism. The digital revolution has impacted how the quality of media
presented as well as the medium through which it is accessed by the population. Nonprofit organizations such as WITNESS have based their mission and purpose on the
existence of the Internet and media production technology. WITNESS breaks the divide
between human rights issues and media by leveraging technology to present advocacy
movement in an innovative way. An ever increasing trend to online media makes it more
accessible to all. Nonetheless, technology has completely altered the way we interact
with one another and with corporations which can sometimes not be positive. Pressures

Amy Martin (100320243)

placed on media corporations to consolidate and expand as fast as possible has


resulted in poor investigative journalism, lacking quality research and reliable sources.
The integration of advertising in media tends to result in the coverage of issues that may
be considered objectionable or off-market to be ignored because it does not align with
financial strategies. Investors and advertising agencies have vested interest in media
conglomerates and the content distributed because they depend on financial return. In
order to increase profits, corporations need to increase audience size and provide
content to suit the segments advertisers are targeting. Whether it is for good or bad, the
Internet has impacted the quality, content, and medium through which we access media
today. The Internet has allowed media to transcend geographic and social barriers that
could not be done before with television and print alone. The Internet has transformed
from an incomprehensible resource to an indispensible one.

Amy Martin (100320243)

Works Cited
Almirn, Nuria. Journalism in Crisis. Corporate media and financialization. Chapter 3:
Financialization in the World's Top Media Conglomerates. Auckland: Hamilton
Press, 2010. Print.
Amnesty International. Freedom of Expression. 2014. Web. 18 May 2014.
<http://www.amnesty.org/en/freedom-of-expression>
Cisco. Prosumers : A New Growth Opportunity. Mar. 2008. Web. 16 May 2014.
http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/docs/wp/Prosumer_VS2_POV_0404_FINAL
.pdf
Hickey, Niel. Money Lust: How Pressure for Profit is Perverting Media. New York:
Columbia Journalism Review, 1998. Print.
IBM. The Rise of the Internet. N.d. Web. 16 May 2014. <http://www03.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/internetrise/impacts/>
Media Education Foundation. Rich Media, Poor Democracy. 2003. Wed. 16 May 2014.
<http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=118>
McChesney, Robert W. The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the
21st Century. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008. Print.
Rodrguez, Eduardo. Development factors of the media system. Universidad Carlos III
de Madrid. Getafe, Madrid. 17 May 2014. Lecture 3.
Rodrguez, Eduardo. Control over the media agenda and its effects. Universidad Carlos
III de Madrid. Getafe, Madrid. 17 May 2014. Lecture 7.
Rodrguez, Eduardo. Pre-set agenda theory. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Getafe,
Madrid. 17 May 2014. Lecture 7.
United Nations General Assembly. Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
May 2011. Web. 10 May 2014. <http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/
docs/17session/A.HRC.17.27_en.pdf>
WITNESS. Annual Report 2012. 2012. Web. 16 May 2014.
<http://www.witness.org/annual-report-2012>