We have now come to the final week of my course, COM 6630 – Strategic Communication & Emerging Media. And like all good things, it must come to an end. It is hard to believe that nine weeks have already passed, but I have enjoyed reading and blogging about the various topics covered in this course. By far my favorite topics covered were mobile communication and social media. Media has changed so much so that not only should we consider the idea to push information out “mobile first,” but pushing it out to “social media first.” I have seen (and read) more news articles because they were pushed out to social media before they were widely published either on their site or through a mobile app notification system. To me newspapers are still “king,” and the industry is learning to adapt with the changing times.
I am still amazed at how far we have progressed technologically. After viewing a string of commercials from an AT&T ad campaign from 1993-1994, it is a little scary to see how much of what was predicted in their commercials is reality today–20 years down the road. We now have video conferencing from computers and portable devices, phones on our wrists (smart watch), RFIDs that can scan an entire set of items at the same time, and self checkout machines. If AT&T were to recreate this campaign “You Will” today, I wonder what types of technology they would include that would predict what is to come in our future. We have already reached the stage where computers on fit on eye glasses or doors can be unlocked with the wave of a card. I have embedded this video below and leave you with one question to ponder while viewing: where do you think we are headed next?
I have enjoyed this exercise of actively blogging, but I am not sure how often I will continue to post. I hope all that have visited my blog over the past nine weeks have enjoyed reading about my thoughts on topics related to the field of strategic communication and emerging media. I have no idea where we are headed, but I am very glad I have a front row seat to watch what the future has in store.
I have to admit that the first paragraph in the article “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” accurately describes a typical day for me (Anderson, 2010). I kick-start my daily routine by checking the weather and my email on my iPhone. While I eat breakfast, I usually scroll through Facebook and Twitter (again from my iPhone) and then head to my RSS feeder app, Feedly, to see what’s going on the world (occasionally I’ll turn on NBC for news or to have a bit of noise in the background). Throughout my day, I’ll take breaks to check these sites again to see if I’m missing out on anything (which I’m usually not). Once I’m home from work, I usually switch to my iPad and use the apps I’ve downloaded on to that device. I share these little facts because never once did I mention using my computer to check these sites. I used apps downloaded to my smart devices.
So many media organizations are making it easy and convenient for us [consumers] to access their information through an app. Lists can be created to keep related topics together to provide an easy to navigate app and alerts can be set. This makes the app personalized just for you. I created lists on my Twitter app so that if I want to see news articles I click on “News” or if I want to see what my friends have tweeted I click on “People I Know.” I follow a traffic report account that alerts me to accidents that may delay me from getting to work or back home on time. When I entered into this program I discovered that Blackboard had an app, and I immediately downloaded it to my smart devices. Through this app I receive alerts and updates that help me to stay current with assignments and postings. Thinking back to my earlier degrees, I am very thankful for this luxury and wonder how I ever got by without it. I also wonder if it may just be another distraction.
All of that being said, I still access these sites via a computer, but it seems almost as if these companies are encouraging us to leave our computers and head to our smart devices. Even reading the Wired article, I noticed an advertisement on the right side panel encouraging readers to subscribe to Wired on their tablet (see picture below). Upon clicking on the offer, the site says “It’s easier than ever to enjoy this groundbreaking monthly on your tablet. Plus, each issue includes exclusive interactive extras, including videos, slideshows and more.” What leaps out at you after reading the description is “more bang for your buck and you don’t even have to leave your house!”
I find all of this interesting, because I feel that companies like Netflix and Hulu are also spreading this same message: “access me from the comfort of anywhere whenever it’s convenient for you!” This past week, I found a rather timely article while reading through my Facebook feed that focuses on the television habits of Millennials called “Study: Most Millennials Don’t Watch TV on the TV” (Allen, 2013). The article states that for “Millennials aged 14 to 24, the bulk of entertainment is spent on laptops, smartphones, tablets and Internet-connected video gaming systems.” Their time spent watching TV on the TV is only 44%, where Millennials aged 25-30 spend 53% of their time watching TV on TV. I am a part of the older Millennial group and I admit that I spend most of my television time not watching it in real-time on television, but via Hulu or Netflix. Knowing that the show will be available streaming online later allows viewers to watch shows at their own pace and not be so tied down by television schedules. How is this hurting television and the shows we enjoy watching? Because more individuals are consuming television this way, it is good that measurement companies, like Nielson, are starting to include viewership via these mediums into their statistics. For media companies, Nielson adding these numbers is long overdue and these added numbers can only help with their future growth (Flint, 2013).
As I come to a close, I leave you with a few things to consider. Do you think all of this media convergence is helping or hurting the industry? Or is it making additional work for companies by not only providing information across their traditional platforms, but also having to create content for mobile apps or social networking platforms? How do you access your media?
This week focused on the question “are traditional media dying?” I do not think they are dying, but evolving and transitioning along with the digital age. The availability of the internet and mobile devices are the driving forces behind the future of media. Because the internet is almost everywhere, print newspapers are beginning to producing more online articles, magazines are moving to digital editions with interactive components, radio shows now have a competitor with podcasts, and people are delaying the television experience by utilizing TiVo/digital recorders or waiting to watch shows on sites like Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube. I decided a few years ago to drop my cable subscription and only have an internet subscription. I was not watching television, so why have a subscription? I soon realized how much I was missing out on news events, so I decided to include the basic news stations to watch the morning and evening news broadcasts.
After reading through this week’s articles, I started to think about how much the media has changed over the past few decades. Newspapers were printed so consumers were kept up-to-date with what was going on in their community. Editions were printed in the morning and in the evening with news updates. Radio was introduced, and news became more social. People would “tune in” every night to listen to the latest news briefs (not only focused on the community, but the world) or entertaining radio programs. During the time between radio and television, people would go to their local theaters to watch newsreels. This was the first time people were able to actually see recordings of world events. Once the television was introduced, people would gather around, much like with the radio, to watch the news or shows for pure entertainment. Not only were consumers getting their information instantaneously like they were with the radio, but they were now able to actually see what was happening. In the 1960s, consumers were able to see in-real time news about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I had a dream” speech, and the first rocket launch towards space. This was a major shift from reading about it in the morning paper!
Fast forward to now. All of these mediums still exist, but are utilized in different ways. Newspaper is still “king,” but in certain cities print circulation has moved from daily printing to a few times a week. Content that was previously created to be printed in the morning edition is now being produced for the internet so that consumers can get instant access. The radio is still around, but instead of tuning in to listen to a radio program (for example, “Little Orphan Annie”) consumers are listening traffic reports, morning shows, and music to make their commute to work much more enjoyable. The television is still showing news broadcasts, but instead of having three channels, we now have hundreds of channels filled with countless amounts of programming.
All that being said, one post that stuck out to me the most was a TED Talk by Jacek Utko titled “Can design save newspapers?” During his presentation, he described the positive effects that happened when he redesigned his newspaper. I found it very interesting that by making a few simple changes to the layout, readership grew. It was his mission to turn a dull paper into something more extraordinary and it worked. The media field is now at a point where it needs to redesign itself to stay current. We [consumers] are “demanding” immediate access to information due to the portability of smart devices. Because these devices offer a way to view, listen, and see content, newspapers can now offer audio commentary and radio and television stations can produce online articles. A crossover is occurring and each type of media can benefit from each other to help each other survive. By redesigning how each medium communicates to their audience, each area of the media industry can work to keeping themselves relevant in the digital world.
All in all, I believe the media field is in the process of trying to re-invent itself. People still want to read the written word, but how? Print editions, on a computer, via an app on a smart device? This is just one question that the media field is trying to address in this digital age. We are living in a really interesting time and I am looking forward to seeing where we find ourselves a few decades from now.