МЕДІАМОРФОЗИС ЖУРНАЛІСТИКИ В ГЛОБАЛЬНІЙ ЦИФРОВІЙ ІМПЕРІЇ
Тетяна Вулич Драгана Павлович (Ніш, Сербія)
Кількість напрямів, структур і стратегій планування форм спілкування в усьому світі зростає. Електронні подання більшою мірою замінюють правду, а пасивне суспільство дезорієнтованих осіб створюється замість критичних міркувань, і керуюче колесо подальшого розвитку орієнтує на корпоративну мета-еліту.
Ключові слова: комунікація, громадських, інформаційних, метамедіа, реконструкції реальності, медіаморфозис (mediamorphosis) журналістики.
Количество направлений, структур и стратегий планирования форм общения во всем мире растет. Электронные сообщения в большей степени заменяют правду, а пассивное общество дезориентированных лиц создается вместо критических соображений, и управляющее колесо дальнейшего развития ориентирует на корпоративную цель-элиту.
Ключевые слова: коммуникация, общественных, информационных, метамедиа, реконструкции реальности, медиаморфозис (mediamorphosis) журналистики.
The number of directed, structured and strategically planned forms of communication is increasing worldwide. Therefore, societies with developed communication strategies, communication techniques and communication tools are assuming a dominant position in the global order.
Key words: communication, public, information, metamedia, reconstruction of reality, mediamorphosis of journalism.
The time we live in undoubtedly belongs to the media, while reality does not have democratic capacity unless it is represented by a media picture. Economic crisis, inflation, terrorism, wars, international conflicts, election campaigns, natural disasters, assassinations, accidents, scandals, spectacles, crimes, entertainment, glamour, sports and other events attract the attention of audience every day. Hunger for knowledge beyond our own experience is greater then ever, therefore, accurate, timely and independent information is prerequisite of true freedom. Civilization is at a crossroads, for the society has never been supplied with this much information, but at the same time a man has never been so lonely and alienated? From the age of information scarcity, in just few decades, we reached the age of information
Overload and ordinary citizens have found themselves in an unpleasant situation since with the old knowledge and ideology they were not democratilly competent to recognize the processes in which they themselves participated. A specific dialectical relationship of interdependence was created between the media and society and journalism is given an important mission of social responsibility. Some theorists call this process media tyranny that has transforming effects on the character of time and space , others will think of it as the merging of the media with colouring of society where they are placed , the third media invasion which saps traditional places of social interaction , and there are those who point out that mired in information we do not have control over them; our defense against slime of information has been destroyed . It is important to note that journalism is experiencing explosive growth, becoming a dynamic and comprehensive phenomenon that subtly changes the context of the social environment. Information management, speed of information distribution and control over distribution shape the perception of mass audience. Generation conflict silently arises between the biologically older, loyal consumers of traditional media and habits; and the young, depending on the Internet, social networks and digital tools, eager to choose moment and time when they will select information according to their desires and demands.
The system of education is in accordance with mental character of 21st century man whose character is nowadays mostly shaped by the media! Cultural patterns, national identities, political and philosophical paradigms, social conflicts and life styles are redefined in accordance with new geopolitical patterns, while informational knowledge is becoming the most important capital. Satellite communications, mobile phones, computers of unimaginable technological possibilities, miniature and digital cameras are some of the emblems of the new revolution. A new web site appears in the world every minute, six to seven thousand scientific articles are written daily, 13 billion catalogues are printed and distributed and we access more information then our ancestors in their lifetime a few centuries ago, just by reading a single copy of daily newspapers. Everybody prefers brains to brawns and intellectual capital to raw force! Personal computers and global telecommunication networks, in theory, provide a chance of avoiding the mainstream media. Current generation, which feels natural with mobile, interactive and different media communications are creating their own, more intimate and dynamic reality in cyberspace, instead of permitting that the reality be defined by television, radio, newspapers and magazines.
The old order of communicating is revolutionary changing and it demands new theoretical and practical answers: at the same time, consumers of information are their producers and distributers, while the new media is increasingly replacing the old media. The failure of the print media has become a new topic for contemplation, and various theoreticians and media professionals have predicted different dates as possible doomsday of it. In 2004, Philip Mayer predicted that the newspapers would lose readership in 2043. CEO of Microsoft has predicted that the press will not survive until 2018 and the publisher of New York Times Arthur Sulzberger believes that the long history of newspapers will end soon - in 2012. Reacting to these forecasts, newspapers have begun to turn to their online editions. In 2008, The Capital Time, Madison daily newspapers ceased to print its editions and focused on the online edition Www. madison. com. In the same year, The Seattle Time founded its online newspapers Www. crosscur. com. In France, web sites Www. Rue89.com and Www. mediapart. fr were launched as online newspapers in 2007 and that year, the UusiSuomi, online newspapers, were launched in Finland as a revival of a century old brand while a daily, the Taloussanomat, ended a ten - year tradition of printing its editions and focused on digital Www. taloussanomat. fi.
Enormous offer of mass media content, interactivity, audience fragmentation, differentiation of communication services, centralization of resources, the increasing power of advertisers and corporations and variety of time and topics enables creation of banks of information capital. Associated Press introduced the term social currency, seeking to single out the news that would have a direct impact on satisfying the need for certain contents (a viral component of qualitative news). The truth is that search and retrieval of this information leads to endless repetition of the same content in similar sources, even if journalists try to find more information on specific event. The new consumer’s sensibility highlights the need for reconstructed journalist expression in the field of genres (redesigning of the inverted pyramid in news, not using the form of classical interview, a new approach to investigative journalism) and adaptation to the new media (strategy of convergence in work organization and content creation). Democracy is evidently in crisis since the population is increasingly divided into privileged (informed) minority and exploited (manipulated) majority that is controlled by being imposed to media images, signs and ideas. Thus, elections looks like the show constructed by the media, dictatorship of money and power, giving to the anemic community an illusion of political freedom. The great number of media inventions on democratization has short term results and after social sobering we realize that, in practice, there have come to functional replacement, because sovereignty of a state was mixed with sovereignty of a market.
Few people realize that revolutionary changes are taking place in all aspects of life, changes that are deep and convergent, similar to those announced by Marx in his reflections on capitalism: violent march of technologies and capital breaks all barriers, boundaries and limitations marching to community of the global market. Information is becoming the power that breaks the iron curtains, country borders and company barriers. If, at the beginning, the force of globalization was directed towards countries and acceptable political systems, now it has change its direction towards multinational companies and individuals, propagating that only world government and planetary brotherhood can save the civilization. The collection, processing and distribution of information require new roles of the staff in mass media organizations: knowledge is replaced by experience; there is the need for intellectual autonomy, speed and agility, strong logical argument, eloquence and skillful handling with new inventions. Journalism is turning into an essential, public dialogue with millions of people, a form of social self-regulation which enables balanced and harmonious functioning of the whole social system, hence the constant growth in its meaning. If the political journalism and civil revolution characterized the beginning of the press, commercialization had an impact on its further development and the third phase was distinguished by responsible journalism, nowadays, we witness the absolute globalization of tabloidized information. The size and market power of the media giants are increasing every moment, so we can talk about collapse of classical national and local media which are struggling desperately to preserve their own cultures. The Internet and similar electronic jungles, representing a technological solution, make local information available to the audience all around the world, so the news about an event, occurrence, process, person or product spreads worldwide in a friction of time, creating a boundless and open market.
The mind of the man has become a goal of many creative industries, while propagating of political messages is a task of Media Mandarins.The management of public space is a question of political strategy. Archaic functions of mass media (informing, coverage, education) have been redesigned by combining information and entertainment, glorifying interactivity and social networking. The shock of information age is greater than any known; the new media has incorporated the old media, modifying the essence of democracy. Unlike the past when the country was the epicenter of these conflicts, the range of preventive attacks is now spreading towards numerous participants (agents), such as ethnic associations, churches, cults, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, universities, political parties, criminal groups, social networks, informal centres of power, mass media... People must be informed in order to reach decisions, which means that in the processes of education and journalism, information is the foundation of existence. The power of the media does not lie in telling people what to think, but in subtle imposing of ideas and attitudes that they should think about. A journalist filters and assesses information, explains their context and possible consequences, making recipients to think about imposed content. This opinion created by the media results in social participation, producing a dialectical interdependence: a thought prepares the ground for practical action, while an action in public environment is just the use of the thought!
The task of the media is not just to convey the massages (inform, educate, recreate, entertain), but, also, to create new meanings, consciousness, ethics, religion and culture. This means that the placement of certain ideas, attitudes, opinions and behavior patterns generates, so called, critical mass, capable of homeostatic preservance or changing of social order. According to a theory, a primary essence of journalism is to deliver information to citizens that will enable them to be free and to participate in processes of negotiating and management . Walter Lippmann, one of the most prominent American journalists, claimed, almost a century ago, that a man knew the world indirectly, through pictures that they create in their own head, referring to mental representations of other people’s experience. The problem is that these pictures are sometimes distorted and incomplete, damaged by various sophisticated media techniques. Contemporary journalism has the power that no society has previously have: information shared through metamedia channels do not recognize geographical limitations, their content is available in real time thanks to digitalization, while vast amount of seducing information shape habits, needs and desires of the audience. However, global traders are more interested in what makes the nations of the world alike, not what makes them different. And it is the realization that the picture is dominant, not the content. Instead of exchanging important information, inhabitants of the global village share the pictures of drinking Coca Cola, eating Big Mac and wearing Levi’s jeans.  Elite domination and marginalization of dissident votes is concealed by the existence of the media in public service, which by the nature of their existence should be available to all citizens alike. Social influence lies in the wording that the public service is created by the public, financed by the public and controlled by the public with a few more characteristics that it should comply. However, in the era of tremendous commercialization, the programmes with the aim to gather a large number of consumers are favoured, so the quality loses the race to spectacles and sensations. Technology is both, goal and initiator and programme schedules are reconstructed in the name of the audience, while the audience is becoming choosier and profiled. The media stopped being perceived as the guardian of public interest due to decrease in power of public media services in the moment of reconstruction of information markets suitable for capitalist economy. The dramatic changes caused by convergence, also, caused commercial forcing of the programme formats based on a tabloid, sensational concept. Instant representations that are products of communi - cational techniques offer the illusion of reality, while language and dramaturgy of the media images significantly contribute to creating of democratic simulacrum. By selecting topics and interviewees, we can define ideological patterns and legitimate political participants and public presentation of their attitudes, ideas, thoughts, statements and beliefs direct the messes towards the specific goal.
Unlike traditional journalism, which epigonically transfers the content of something that happened, the modern paradigm offers understanding, exchange, objectivity and balance of information. The force of arguments where reason and tolerance are generally accepted criterion substitutes the arguments of force which are characteristic of yes-men journalism. Commercialization and showbiz are more and more common in the structures of journalism, so the media organizations increasingly resemble each other. Traditional mass media (instruments of mass communication) adapt to the new media such as social networks, blogs, and virtual world. This is a digital revolution, revolution of speed and reach of communication networks, possibilities of processing and archiving, sophistication of software applications on the Web.
From the social point of view, the digital revolution is transforming the nature and consumer scale of the news. Generation of “digital nation” that is starting to appear expresses very different opinion on media in comparison to the older generation of “digital immigrants”. This may cause a structural discontinuity (break) in the news media; in other words; transformation of the young into reliable consumers of the news can be interrupted by the use of the alternative media which is characterized by the choice and participation, not with passivity and scarcity of information.  As an open network, the Web has provided the basis for radically different media ecology where the audience is not a passive recipient of the news, but the active participant in the creation, verification and distribution of the news.
Other crucial characteristic of the present situation in the media sphere is that the economic basis of the news is weakening. Economy of the news depends on characteristics and the size of the audience which decides on value of the media for advertisers. Problem is that the audience spends less time using traditional media channels and this causes shifting of advertisements to digital platforms. It is the challenge for news broadcasters to attract real audience with their web content and at the same time support the interest of advertisers. In theory, news publishers are in a strong position due to stability of brands, newspapers reputation and size of the archive. For this reason, they seek to reorganize redactions so as to use the full potential of the web.
The discovery of the new media has not eliminated the previous media, but forced them to transform and modernize. Gutenberg’s press did not mark the end of the book, photography did not suppress painting, radio did not destroy the press and Internet will not mark the end of television. However, techniques, formats and concepts are being transformed and the individuals, who cannot recognize how deep and dramatic the changes are, risk becoming the part of gullible and manipulated human herd. This is the beginning of the new process, paradox that is difficult to understand: wealth of information increases the freedom in proportion to the number of new information, hiding that in a pool of information much is the same! On television over cable you can watch hundreds of television programmes. However, in practice, people really watch only a few, but the breaking news is prepared in the similar or same way. Modern technology dispels our suspicion, offering information that should make us think in particular way. Consumer society does not want fluctuation of thought, but fluctuation of money and goods; the structure of contemplation is directed towards reproduction after the laws of association, and not on a higher level of logical plain. Desires and emotions are developed, ego, panic and fear are stimulated; virtues and shame are a burden, while licentiousness and greed develop consumer’s mentality.
Publicity, as a manner of winning public attention, directs public to think about certain opinions, views and problems that media actualized. In the new order, nature and function of publicity have been changed, because the media organizations are the carriers of its diversion and division. Formal possibility of free expression is the right of a man to create their own publicity. “Key problem that we all face - from big companies to ordinary citizens is information overload. It is a challenge today to find information you can believe in, you can rely on... Ten thousands of new blogs are posted daily, but at the same time, the same number of blogs is deleted every day“. It is estimated that, in 2010, Internet will overtake television as the most consumed form of media, i. e. Internet consumption in Europe is average 14.2 hours per week compared to 11.5 per week for TV. At the same time, the television will continue to play an important role in informing and entertaining, but mobile and online modes of its consumption will soon be more popular than traditional.
Information theory enables us to define, observe and study information without invoking its carriers. Information can be ripped off one medium and copied onto another. It can be processed: filtered, distorted, enhanced, synthesized. It can be sorted, compared, and matched... The various layers of information and machinery formerly glued together are sliding apart: in the 80s we witnessed the separation of software from the hardware, in the 90s network services separated from the physical networks, and now content (narrative) is separating from the media. Therefore, we no longer use the term media industry, since it is on its way to separating into two industries: industry that provides a medium and industry that provides the content, so in modern literature, the terms news industry and journalism industry have been coined.The first journalist wrote their information on their knees, and later started using typewriters, than teleprompters. Now, journalists are being replaced by computers programmed to write news. The data from a business group Thomson Earnings News, where computers have been performing the tasks of journalists since March 2006, prove that it is not just a futuristic vision. Software uses patterns, synonyms and comprehensive data bases enabling multivariability of information. Nouns and verbs dominate the content, adjectives are rarely used, but the basic message is provided! For example, when a company publishes data on new value of their shares, computers broadcast the news of the possible earnings within
0. 3 seconds, allowing customers to react instantly. Although this specific information is targeted at brokers, financial advisors and managers, it is clear that, in future, the speed of processing and distribution of information will be quite a challenge. The prominent London newspapers, Financial Times, is already developing a strategy in which computers will have an important task in creating of databases on world economy as well as on many other social domains (politics, culture, etc.). Matthew Barkley, the project leader, points out that computers do not make a slightest mistake and that journalists in future will have more time to analyse, research and predict the events they write about.
Under the pressure of this prevailing trend of separation in media industry, it seeks new identity, since traditionally unified set of media, content and advertisers is dissolving. Media companies are becoming confused. What is their core identity? Editorial content? Marketplaces? Blogospheres? Social networks? The message of Marshall McLuhan that “the medium is the message“is being changed. The message is now “Internet.” “And, just as McLuhan said, new media are rapidly being created within the medium of the Internet. They are nesting and mating. Thereat, the content and the media are co-developing more than ever. The vertical integration between different levels of content and media is dissolving and creation of the narrative is no longer connected to providing of media. The production of narrative is not bundled with the provision of media. They go partying together, but they have stopped going steady“.
The essence of journalism lies in concept of collective attention. When newspapers and broadcasters sell ads, they are actually selling the attention of the audience, which was generated by their journalists. Traditional business model is based on:
- Control a carrier of information that can reach the masses;
- Generate attention around the carrier by transmitting interesting information on it;
- Sell the attention by charging advertisers for broadcasting their information over your carrier.
Despite digital mediamorphosis, the dilemma still remains: how to contain and sell attention? Controlling the carrier has so far been the answer. However, on the Web, audience attention jumps around wildly. So even if you manage to get a lot of attention, it is not easy to collect it and transfer it to someone else. This is the hope for journalism, since the basic competence of journalists is to generate attention. The truth is that everybody can inform society, but only those who can generate attention succeed. As the nervous system of a global collective consciousness, Internet is the biggest opportunity so far for professional journalism. It is true that now everybody can publish, everybody can be a journalist. But it is not true that everybody will be a journalist.
In the endless search for business model of new journalism, the conclusion is that the key value is the audience attention - it is not journalism if it doesn’t serve the interest of the reader. Without a business model that helps the survival and development of journalism, journalism will cease to exist as a profession. There are today three business principles of journalism:
- Selling content to the audience,
- Selling attention to the audience, and
- Getting sponsorship for delivering information to the audience without biasing the message in favor of the sponsors.
It is obvious that all three principles depend on loyal attention from the audience. In order to draw loyal attention from the audience, the journalist has to in return be loyal to the audience. If journalism loses the attention of the audience, it will not have customers, advertisers, sponsors. Thus, the core of maintaining of journalists is to create a business model that reinforces the loyalty to the audience. It is a necessary condition so that journalism can flourish as a profession in attention economy. It is satisfied by three basic elements of the new journalism:
- Storytelling skills;
- Attention and loyalty between journalism and audience; and
- A business model that keeps reinforcing it.
The consequences of separation of journalism and the media are: It is not about the medium, it is about symbols of collective attention. As the medium becomes shared by increasing number of very diverse brands, the medium will mean less, and the brands will need to mean more. Decomposition of the audience, also, separates media from the journalism, and enhances specific gravity of the new brands.
Traditional media are built around certain hard technologies, printing presses or radio transmitters and receivers and this limits the information they deliver. Newspapers can’t deliver video or sound information and this makes people connect the different media to different types of storytelling: Newspapers are good for analysis; TV is good for visualization etc. In case of the Internet, bonds between the content and the carrier are loosened: there are no special types of contents that become the character of the Internet, nor connection between communication and publishers.
The change can be seen with the young, the most perspective consumers of the news, who are increasingly dependant on digital, interactive media platforms. Producers of the news are facing a threatening phenomenon called structural discontinuity or disruption, since this audience, belonging to “digital natives” not “immigrants”, does not return to the news, even when it is situated in society in terms of family, status and material posessions, as it was case with traditional media. The emergence of new platforms has provided multitude of choices, but insufficient attention, the consequence of which is short term consumption of online content and a certain paradox: a number of digital information is increasing, but audience attention is scarce.
In theory, the emergence of informed, but passive consumers of information is called the soporofic dysfunction of information and communication systems. The abundance of information received daily inhibits their social activism instead of reinforcing it. Direct consequence of this condition is that information on serious social issues becomes entertaining only because they attract audience attention. Short or limited life of online news consumption is caused by: firstly, by expectations that content should be free; and secondly, by dominance of search engines, which, under the pressure of Internet structure, separated news in many different stories that can be browsed.
Technological transformation of journalism is caused by economic reasons, since publishers invest in digital technologies so as to decrease expenses in chain value of the news. At the same time, it is not technology that forces new types of the media! People do not buy information technologies; they buy content, usability and convenience when they realize that benefits of such an information model correspond to price. Globalization, expressed through digitally integrated platforms, in spite of decrease in audience ratings and advertisements in traditional media, is a framework for survival of the publisher.
Commercial pressures and technological possibilities favour the advantages of processing rather than creation of the content. The crowd effect and dominance of sensational and popular stories, enhanced by clickstream principle are the consequences of the pressure to reduce investments in original journalism in the media. The diversity of the journalist’s articles is reduced by relying on collected not produced content. The web expands possibilities of journalists, but digitally oriented journalists are more “General Practice experts” than “specialists”. Flexible way of gathering news leads to minimizing of reporting and analysis, causing multimedia journalists to become passive processors of used material.
The future of journalists will depend on their capability to give the news web attributives: a new approach to writing and presentation of information, a new model of narrative presentation, optimization of web browsing tools and semantic enrichment of web content. The basic principle should be: cover the stories that you are most familiar with and provide links for everything else. Used to the fact that newspapers meant everything in the past, publishers, even today try to cover everything, which is strategically wrong and in the time of links, unnecessary and destined to fail. Instead of notion “we should have this”, it is much better to focus on “what is our value” or “what do we do best”. This approach enables journalists to provide the best story for the consumers, not to offer the n-th version of the same story.
Separating the media and journalism is reflected in the following: It is not about the medium, it is about symbols of collective attention. As the medium becomes shared by increasing number of very diverse brands, the medium will mean less, and the brands will need to mean more. It is a direct consequence of decomposition of the audience that, at the same time separates the media from the journalism and increases gravity of the new platforms. Since we live in the time of attention economy, there is a greater market demand for people whose job is to generate attention, who produce and mediate professionally and they are - journalists. The basic competence of journalists to generate attention is the crucial argument in surviving of journalism as a profession in the digital era. The basic substance of that survival is loyalty to the audience and business model that keeps reinforcing it. Reducing error to minimum is a key to success of digital journalism. Consumers will continue to use something if it is true, entertaining and good, while offering of short, noncertified and incomplete stories is a bad service. This approach, in which , an ideal synthesis of the old and the new is created, at least in theory, prevents it from becoming obsolete with a possibility to be back in a bi way, as it is an integral part of every democratic society
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