In what ways has the ‘new media’ and the changing technology of political reporting affected its quality and availability?
Over the last decade there has been a significant change in the way in which the media industry reports political news to their audience. With newspaper popularity decreasing, the computer and television industry are gaining larger audiences at a fast rate. Therefore, this rise of new media has made news reporting quicker and more accessible to readers through the use of technology such as; the internet, twenty four hour news channels, blogs and satellite television. However, there is room for debate when discussing the speed and availability of new media, which may question how reliable and accurate these news reports actually are. With an ever-growing amount of news resources available online, the development of the internet over the years has shown an increase in the significance of politics, gaining a larger interest from a wider and more diverse audience. However, when looking at political reporting online, it is important to always consider ‘the interactive nature of the internet; the complexity of its content in volume and variety as well as its accessibility.’ (Fenton, 2010, p.6) In 1997 the BBC launched their first twenty four hour news television network in the UK, allowing for frequent updates to be delivered to the public at a quick speed. This twenty four hour news channel was the first competitor to Sky News, which was founded in 1989. By introducing twenty four hour news channels, the availability of political reporting increased dramatically, but this also meant that constant reports needed to be discovered by the media to ensure all news hours were filled. Therefore, an argument arises when looking at the quality of twenty four hour news cycles as Axford and Huggins suggest that this form of new media ‘is seen as the unconscionable dumbing down of complex issues.’ (Axford and Huggins, 2001, p.14) Whereby, the media is so concerned with delivering the information to their audience at a fast speed, that they are neglecting the fact that the information they are reporting may, in fact, be false. Therefore, although the changing technology of political reporting may seem useful for the public, it could be feeding them inaccurate reports which could, in turn, potentially jeopardise a person’s political role and power. Furthermore, by having a constant rolling news channel, this enables audiences to remain updated with current affairs at any given time of the day or night, rather than being restricted to a specific news time. In turn, this aspect of new media offers the public a chance to become well informed and knowledgeable of current political reports. Although twenty four hour news channels are proving popular among audiences, they still run the risk of losing viewers as ‘younger audiences are deserting them for the immediacy and interactivity of the internet.’ (Fenton, 2010, p. 35) The internet is becoming increasingly vital among versatile audiences, with many people using it as their primary source of news and information. Therefore, the easy accessibility which the internet holds means the volumes of people who use it are increasing at a fast rate. Wright (in Fenton, 2010, p.76) noted that ‘twelve percent of BBC News uptake is through the website and it is growing’. This statistic illustrates that the efficiency and convenience of the net is having a powerful impact on the number of people now switching from television to the internet. In contrast, the internet can develop many ways to con the public into believing that much of the political reporting issued online is true. Therefore, the quality of online information must be questioned. Users of the internet should remember the limitless availability that it holds for the general public to post their own views and opinions on current affairs. Critics argue that ‘the net is primarily a medium through which people construct...
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