Let the debate begin

26 Jan

This is an all too familiar argument: will the print industry hold out in the future against the meteoric yet poorly funded rise of new media and online content? I asked this question on the password-protected blog of our Producing a Magazine class but want to throw it out there, with an added slant.

What does the death of traditional media such as print, and the rise of online media and usage, mean for developing countries and closed societies where online use is limited or restricted. Here’s what I wrote, I would love it if you guys could weigh in.

R.I.P Newsweekly?

The newsweekly is being vaunted by the new media community as the latest print category to spiral slowly towards a terrible death. (Click on the pic for the link to the NY Times story)

mag-pic

Is it just me, or is there a subtle sense of glee in the discussion (not necessarily the stories) on the death of the print industry? Something like, “We told you this would happen, IN 1999.” Maybe I’m being a cry baby, but being hit every single day with comments, threads, discussions and stories about how new media will take pride of place in the journalism of tomorrow constantly brings me back to two questions:

a) How is new media going to solve the funding issue? I don’t really see any revolutionary, sustainable funding models in the U.S. right now – just panicked, last minute (albeit entrepreneurial) start-ups hitting the ground running, and

b) If New Media is the future, why is Columbia offering a print concentration at all? Unless it still has the hope that print media will hold out through the storm and emerge, tattered but still alive, in the future.

I come into the discussion guarded about the future presented by New Media, mostly because in South Africa, as in most developing countries, Internet use is limited and traditional media is still heavily relied upon. This makes me wonder if digital content and new media is really the future for a globalized world … or just for the ubiquitous West? While new media has its place in developing countries, and certainly provides a platform of dissent for many pro-democracy communities, radio and print are still integral media components in closed societies.

This is a very loaded discussion and perhaps not suitable for a blog on digital content, but I thought it would be interesting to hear everyone’s views on these issues. My point is not to be contentious, merely to provoke debate!

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