Topics: Corporate social responsibility, Public relations, Communication Pages: 11 (3751 words) Published: March 30, 2014
Analyse how communications theory can help understanding of the role of new media Introduction
New media are fast evolving channels of new ways to communicate. It is trendy, often misunderstood, and has been used very successfully and very unsuccessfully by users from individuals to big corporations. It can be seen as a threat to journalism, as evidenced by the ongoing disagreement between Rupert Murdoch and Google regarding access to news articles for free (Bunz, 2009), or as a powerful political tool of the people as used by Mohsen Sazegara to oppose the regime in Iran from another continent (Lamb, 2009). In this essay I am going to explore if and how communication theories apply to new media, and in doing so, see what the role of new media is. New media, new attributes

Traditional media conveys messages that have been processed and packaged in order to hit deadlines. TV News used to be up to 4 times a day, now it is 24 hours. Radio news is broadcast hourly, newspapers are weekly, daily, twice daily, and magazines are weekly or monthly. In contrast, new media – for example based on internet capability (on your computer, on your gaming console, on your phone) which includes websites, chat rooms, blogs, micro-blogs, social networking sites are available on demand at any time of the day or night. New media has other new or enhanced attributes over traditional media, some of which are referred to in Richard Houghton’s speech about new media at the ICCO Southeast European Summit on May 2009 (Houghton, 2008) and Johanna Fawkes and Anne Gregory’s paper “Applying communication theories to the Internet” (Fawkes & Gregory, 2000), and these include: Availability regardless of distance

Speed of availability
Amount of information available
Accessibility and transparency
Availability of the most up to date information
Ability for the public/receiver to interact with the publisher of the media Media can be interconnected and overlapping e.g. links in articles online to other articles, blogs etc. Can combine text, images, video for an increased sensory experience With these new attributes new media is an evolution of traditional media, upon which the following communication theories are based, but it still does the same fundamental job of communicating messages, so these theories should be relevant to some extent. Uses and gratification theory

Blumler and Katz model of uses and gratification is particularly useful starting point for applying communications theory to new media as it is based on people choosing a media source to meet their needs, not on media source itself. People use media in this model “to be connected” (Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, Winter73-Winter74). This model gives TV, books and radio as examples of media that an audience can be entertained or informed by, and new media can satisfy these needs also. New media can satisfy the four functions of this model. As examples: Diversion can be satisfied by checking Facebook/email at work, and personal relationships through social networking sites. Personal identity is reinforced by finding people with common opinions and thereby reinforcing an individual’s identity and opinions. This also enables individuals to form informal groups, which is useful for public relations communication in targeting appropriate publics to engage with. Individuals can also find many different sources of information and opinion, which helps them to find meaning about the world through surveillance. In this way new media satisfies people’s needs for information and entertainment, and does so instantly. Patterns of public’s media use also make new media – for example Google trends - a good tool for research about what people think and what they are interested in for public relations communication planning. Opinion Leaders

Paul Lazarfeld studied people’s voting behaviour, and then with Elihu Katz, applied his findings to consumer behaviour to describe their two-step flow of mass...

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