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by Stephen Logan on 7th September 2009
Despite going to great lengths to critique the Internet throughout my Friday post, aptly entitled ‘Is the Internet too noisy?’ I acknowledge my own part in the dispersal of noise, as well as the benefits it can bring. However, elsewhere the baton appears to have been taken on even further; a little too far in fact, which explains this impromptu follow up.
Management Today published an editorial piece this morning on why ‘the Internet ain’t all that great’. The more than slightly wry comparison of the Internet and the traditional media that it is slowly replacing, takes a far more acerbic and negative approach to the online world. It should be said that this isn’t a lone voice, it’s an argument that crops up time and time again; however, it’s one that ought to be tackled.
In the editorial piece, it is suggested that the Internet is a place where we can pick and choose the news we want to digest. Whilst previously of course, we were spoon fed from what is referred to as the ‘set menu’ of traditional media. That’s the absolute truth, few would argue with that, but is it a bad thing?
For example, on the morning news, how many stories are there in an hour, a dozen, maybe more? These predetermined news pieces are chosen by an editorial team to match the viewer’s interests as well as the major stories of the day.
But how many newsworthy events are happening all around the world at the same time? Just because the Iran crisis is now not daily news, does this mean that it is no longer news? What about the Sudanese conflict; whilst it may have fallen off the radar of my programmes or newspapers of choice, does that mean that it’s over? Or how about the second division football club that has sunk into administration overnight; will this be considered newsworthy enough to the general populous to be given airtime even though it may be to me?
With such a broad scope of viewers or readers to appease, how can you be sure that you’re getting the news that is relevant to you, your interests and your viewpoints? It is a thankless task; however, this is where, I believe at least, that the Internet is actually an incredibly valuable news source.
Admittedly the criticism of the general knowledge flow on social media sites like Twitter, is founded on a solid grounding. But we pick and choose our social media friends, often based on how interesting we find them, their messages and the links they provide. Just as it is easy to follow anybody we choose, it is just as easy to unfollow. That said, even Mashable have turned on Twitter; today highlighting a study that shows that it diminishes your working memory. However, there are still many positives that can be found through the active communication and information sharing within small online communities.
Has news been simplified because of the Internet, or is it just a case of the public getting what the public wants – a core idea behind all media lest we forget. The Internet has simply facilitated the free sharing of information that would have been previously confined to select communities. Yes, you can pick and choose what you see, read and hear; but that is surely what makes it the most versatile public forum today for information producers, gatherers and marketers.
News is very much following business online. The growth in online industries has been almost as great as the losses in offline media. Moving forward all companies should have a presence online; whilst the temptation to ridicule it for its numerous failings is strong, the benefits of utilising the Internet are too great to ignore.
Whether you choose to get your media coverage online or off is entirely up to you; just as it is with purchasing goods and marketing your company. The freedom and opportunities that it does offer to everybody though, despite the overcrowding and noise, are surely worth celebrating though – if only occasionally.