Journalism in 21st Century: Reshape through ICT
Scientists in the ancient Greece, where philosophies dominated science, thought motion was the core force of every change. The scientists of the 21st century, either theoretically or practically, assumed the concept of motion as a factor of all developments.
Long ago, the abacus was used in solving our ancestorsâ€™ numerical problems. The counting frame was the quickest methodology of solving mathematical problems compared to other tools like sticks, seeds, stones etcetera. In the textbooks of computer science, the abacus was regarded as a forefather of todayâ€™s computer and nowadays this mere counting frame is reaching to the level of a thinking computer. So far developed, huge data uploaded on the net and yet to be uploaded need the fastest communication media to disseminate and exchange the information among people.
Once, the personal computer was a separated advancement, subject to the limitations of individual users. There was no data transfer system among the computers in the past. With the birth of the system for interrelating computers, the interconnected computers are now capable of sharing files and documents according to LAN, Local Area Network. Broader connection of such networking for covering a full range of the area is known to the users as WAN, Wide Area Network. It has been a revolutionary breakthrough for all PCs to have access to the Internet. Data transfer capacity in the World Wide Web, WWW, allows the exchange of information, whether these are write ups, images, videos etceteras. The use of hi-tech has enabled all the aspects of human life to be available on the Net.
The impact of information technology, IT, on journalism is on the rise. Cyber networks, whether broadband, submarine cable or satellite based, give professional journalists the speediest way to send news to the newsreaders. Data transfer capacity has already gone over the kilobyte bandwidth to gigabyte, or to some extent, terabyte. That is why news is available to readers as soon as they are posted in the cyber world.
The sustainability of a media house depends on technology adaptation; in the West, broadsheet newspapers are on the verge of extinction because website and digital papers draw more ads than papers do. One of the oldest newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor, is now web-based and its print version no longer exists. Newspaper printing becomes cost effective and much faster than before. In fact, hassles of running printing machinery have been reduced; it is unnecessary to wait till morning to read the newspaper.
Online journalism could be a highway for local journalists to enter the arena of international journalism. The wider scope of journalism can facilitate our newsmen to boost their efficiency in every way. Thus newsreaders of the world can become fully acquainted with problems and prospects just by reading news on computer monitors and mobile phones.
E-mail newsletters are cheaper than printed newspapers. A publisher or editor doesnâ€™t need to appoint hawkers for marketing. Webmasters can handle all the technical sides of an e-journal. This can be sent directly to the inbox of a client's e-mail address just by clicking the send icon. Newsmen can open up a particular group in the World Wide Web to exchange news and other journalistic topics according to their specialized fields.
Readers can access the web sites whenever they need to gather further information of a particular occurrence. A large portion of readers are used to seeking specialized news, like those on environment, human rights, telecommunication, computer science, business, crime etcetera. Reading news on special fields is expensive and time consuming because you have to collect many newspapers; but, now, an Internet search engine permits everyone to gather news in any particular field within less time and cost. Moreover, a news archive in the e-domain can be quickly searched by newsreaders rather than having a glance at or read through thousands of newspaper pages.
Media controlling minds of people is an old clichÃ©. On the contrary, for the cyber blessing, readers post comments and counter-comments on the website of a newspaper about news, they continue arguments with twittering, in which readers find more truth than exact news, many of them hit the news site only for reading comments and counter-comments, which provide them thought nourishment. In TV talk-shows, viewers directly participate with SMS and telephone calls. Electronic and print media are to be vastly influenced by the people who are logged on cyberspace.
Bloggers were the master minders in the recent uprising in Middle East. People of Egypt and Tunisia were glued to the blogs to know how revolution was going on. A blog shows chronological messages to you, cascading information will enrich your knowledge, and you will be able to understand the evolving facts of an event. Usually, a blog contains a title, text, time, video, images etc. Many entries are shown as images and links to other blogs. You can start debates on funny to serious subjects. Blogs can create controversy sometimes and go against the journalistic ethics; the bloggers sometimes do not claim copyright. Misuse of blogging can be a threat to the privacy and image of people. However, we believe, professionalism in writing blogs will solve the problem.
Many famous newspapers are hiring bloggers to post comments on their regular columns, articles, features, and renowned columnists maintain blogs to communicate with their readers directly. Many newspapers even ask permission from bloggers to re-post their write-ups on the websites of their newspapers.
Blog journalism empowers freelance journalists and this kind of bloggers is also called newsmen. The blog technology has added a new window to journalism, which is going to dominate a big portion of journalism in providing direct news to people. Blog journalism can be supplementary to the traditional method of journalism.
Web developers are thinking of building facebook-type sites for news exchange, one day news cast will be partially based on social networking sites.
Most of the newspapers of Bangladesh have websites; the daily hit on the websites of leading newspapers is many times higher than their broadsheet circulation. Recently the newspapers introduced digital or e-papers, which is a new concept of newspaper marketing. Ads will be shown on the e-paper according to regions where products are available. Our expatriates in America donâ€™t need to see ads of the products available only in Bangladesh; they want to see what they can get in their locality. E-papers are getting revenues from other countries.
In the nearest future, we are expecting a massive migration toward internet based news release. Even TV channels are posting their news on websites, on which Bangladeshi expatriates are hitting every day. Many IT companies are knocking the doors of newspapers to develop mobile phone applications, by which live news will be released on the mobile phones.
The newspaper industry is one of biggest sectors of empowering our graphic designers, networking engineers; its production section is highly based on IT. The demand for graphic designers is so high; therefore, some of the newspapers are hiring graphic designers from our neighboring country. Website developers are getting calls from newspapers to build websites of international standard.
All the newspapers have specific IT and telecommunication pages, each day they have IT corner to upgrade people with breakthrough. So appointing IT journalists is a must for newspapers. However, the problem is they are not trained in IT journalism, which, we think, is a very technical matter. Without a profound knowledge in computer science, IT business journalists canâ€™t write about IT for common people. Besides journalism IT and business knowledge is also compulsory for IT journalists. Combining three subjects to teach journalists is challenging and much focus is also needed to study. However, journalism, computer science, and MBA departments of a university can run IT journalism course together.
Some journalism departments of universities in the Western world have introduced technical sides of info-tech applications in their curriculum for teaching students the process of media communication. In the context of our country, the success of online journalism is not far off. If our country wants to join the international arena of journalism and to improve the standard of journalism, our journalists should certainly be included in online journalism. To meet the newspaper industryâ€™s requirements, universities should come forward to train up journalists in IT and business knowledge. Besides the sense of journalism, a journalist must be trained in computer science and technology business.
Billions of websites are on our click. So contents are a must for websites. Unfortunately, many websites are lagging behind because of the lack in mature contents and up-gradation. Web developers often complain that they are not getting quality contents for their websites. Journalists can be content developers for the websites. Huge content development work means to outsource to us if we have quality content writers. Only writing blogs can empower writers who are acquainted with the course of technology. They can earn much from the west.
US science fiction writer William Gibson was famous for describing the life of people in cyberspace. He imagined society, in his book Neuromancer, where people are virtually connected and communicate often. When he wrote the book, such virtual society was out of our imagination. We are close to the virtual society in which reporters, editors, as well as readers will be connected; news gathering and casting will be on the click of surfers. A digital device will be enough to get news, by the device a reporter can write and release news. Even without attending an office, pages of newspapers can be designed, reports can be edited, and problems of news duplication can be stopped. Therefore, we are sure that the future of journalism stands in the virtual connectivity.
The keynote speech was delivered at the seminar titled â€˜Journalism in the 21st Century: Reshape through ICTâ€™ which was facilitated by Daffodil International University, DIU, and Center for ICT Policy Research, CIPR. The keynote speech prepared by IT focused think-tank CIPR
Shahidul K K Shuvra
The Independent and CIPR