Digital media: New horizons for the digital world

digital media

Technology has empowered traditional media to break into the digital world – combining data, image, visual and interactivity, thus bringing a new experience altogether, rich with content for better audience engagement

Our world has changed and so have we – as individuals, as a society and as a nation. Our transactional behaviour and consumption patterns, too, have changed. All the transitions in the last decade have led us into a new digital world. But did we really make an effort to enter it? Probably not. Before we could realise, the Internet of Things (IoT) had transformed the way we work, live, interact, consume and entertain. The long-suppressed hunger to express, search and consume information erupted like a volcano, the moment technology became a leveller in the modern world. The real democratization of feelings, sharing, interaction, consumption and demand became possible due to the birth of social media platforms riding on the strength of easy accessibility of technology tools and devices.

We are now a digital society empowered with technology, connectivity and tools. Like a 90s kid learned to ride a cycle as their first extra-curricular skill, the new modern child learns about the technology tools using gadgets connected with the Internet. Therefore, the familiarity and understanding of data, images, visuals and interactivity of millennials are much stronger. This is evident from the fact that India is the second-largest consumer of data and is the fastest-growing market for mobile internet devices.

The most powerful device that has been invented in recent times is the mobile phone. It has brought a complete change in our behaviour – the way we interact within our own world and the world outside. Within the mobile phone, the modern man has built his own space for music, entertainment, sports, learning, preferences, likes, dislikes, information, knowledge, projection, contraction and communication. And, if we closely observe, we will see that all possible interactions that people are engaging in any form have four basic pillars: data, image, visual and interactivity.

Notably, these four pillars had existed even before the advent of digital technology. But they prevailed in isolation and were not dependent on each other, leading to a passive interaction with the outside world. The interactivity, speed and richness were missing. This could be interpreted in the form of print, television and radio, in their earlier avatars, when consumers were able to consume each of the media individually and passively. Then came technology combined with the internet and completely transformed the face of traditional media. 

Technology has empowered traditional media to break into the digital world – combining data, image, visual and interactivity, thus bringing a new experience altogether, rich with content for better audience engagement. Over the past ten years, the mainstream and traditional regional media have extended their turf by adding multimedia platforms for reaching out to the digital-first audiences, in addition to their legacy consumers. The most striking contribution of technology is that it has given tools to audiences to act as independent media platforms on social media. Besides, it created a level-playing field for many individuals to become independent media entrepreneurs, enabling them to launch their digital news platforms for niche audiences at the global, national, regional and local level, across languages.

Today, rich content is the new currency. Content not only acts as a testimonial for a social or business transaction, but the power of interactivity makes the content open to all scrutiny for its authenticity. The new breed of content creators requires new skills. While the fundamental journalistic skills for creating and curating content coupled with language proficiency remain central to the competence, processing and distribution of content using technology have also become compulsory. In the absence of the internet and social media technology skills, the prospects of being a new media professional will remain bleak.

Though, social media raises significant challenges that could stand in the way of realizing the full potential of online media. Clickbaity headlines, fake news, hacking of user-profiles, trolling and privacy fears have already captured public attention. However, as the medium becomes more mature and trivia free, the issues will get resolved.

UPES’ vision for starting the School for Modern Media under the able leadership of Prof. K G Suresh, former DG, Indian Institute of Mass Communication is noteworthy. While the traditional media is still going to be relevant for some years, the future belongs to digital media. Already a force to reckon with, the fast-changing demography of the younger population will make it the first port of choice. A career in digital media is already exciting and in coming years, it will become more promising for those who are willing to combine the skills of writing, creating, processing and distributing by themselves.

(Mr Alok Verma is a National Award-winning Journalist for Online News Innovation, Editor-in-Chief, NYOOOZ & Newzstreet Media, and Former Editor, TV Today, Star TV Interactive and Zee News.)

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