Evolution of the media: its forced transformation towards virtuality

Thanks to the progressive reduction of the digital divide, we are witnessing the era of greater access to information for humanity. However, the multiplicity of interactions that allow the not so new media (social networks, video platforms, blogs, digital radio, among others) has made them compete against the traditional «mass» media when consuming information. This is how the dizzying evolution of the media has taken place – and continues to take place.

The evolutionary process of the media

During the evolution of the media, the old models of media have mutated towards a digital convergence that forces them to be attentive to the vertiginous changes of the communicative elements of their audience. But what is digital convergence or media convergence and how does it affect the evolutionary process of media?

Convergence as two or more lines that are directed at one point or when two or more people unite their points of view, opinions, opinions and ideas. For the purposes of this study, we need a much more specific definition. This definition is provided by the doctor in communication from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, José Alberto García Avilés.

With regard to the evolution of the media, García argues that «the convergence of media is a process facilitated by the widespread implementation of digital telecommunication technologies, which affects very diverse aspects and promotes an integration of tools, spaces, work methodologies and languages previously disaggregated».In that sense, García adds that the convergence of media develops in five areas: technological, business, content, users and media professionals.

An evolution that during the twentieth century

Throughout the twentieth century – and even today – each type of media (radio, television, newspaper) had its own information transmission technology and adapted its contents to the form of distribution and consumption in the way they assume that their audiences would consume them. Even in the midst of the vertiginous evolution of the media, we see how radio, television and newspapers have different audiences that, sometimes, converge with each other. But the real disruptive change did not come with the invention of the Internet, but with the commercialization of the network of networks.

Although the first network of interconnected computer terminals (ARPANET) has existed since 1969, it was not until 1990 when the TCP/IP protocol was standardized, which allowed us to have an Internet network, as we know it today (Leiner, et al, 1997). This change allowed the media to understand the potential of the then new network of networks. In fact, the adoption of the Internet as a tool for news broadcasting grew at a rapid pace.

Thus, in 1993 the first digital media appeared. These are the Californian San José Mercury News and Palo Alto Weekly (heraldo.es, 2016), which combined the physical distribution of their newspapers with the publication of the news on their new web portals. Between 1993 and 1995, major newspapers in the United States, Europe and other areas of the developed world adopted this technology. Later, radio and television news also began to distribute their content through their own digital media.

How was the evolution of the media in the Dominican Republic?

In the Dominican Republic, the process of media evolution took place almost exclusively through private initiative. We can say that the change towards the virtuality of the media in the country of merengue and ball took place in the mid-90s.

Thus, we emphasize that the company All American Cables and Radio (AACR) was the first to market the Internet service, on May 5, 1995. That same year, the first digital media in the country, the Dominican Electronic Newspaper (DEDOM), directed by Huchi Lora and Silvio Herasme (Nishio, 2009), was launched. In that sense, the first printed newspaper to have its own digital medium was the newspaper Listín Diario, in 1997.

The emergence of new media, which was made possible by a derisory investment in the face of the old media and now with access to a global audience, accelerated the evolution of the already established media. Thus, in 1999 the digital medium Enelpunto.net was launched, the first newspaper with a newsroom that worked exclusively to produce news for the Internet.

Likewise, Cibao News, by journalist Walker Gonzalez and Café Bambú, by Daniel Efrain, were also part of the first exclusively digital media. But it was not until the appearance of Clave Digital in 2003, when the country began to take seriously the importance of digital media.

In the 2000s, new technologies were designed or improved that add functionality to the Internet. The popularization of RSS (Really Simple Syndication), to distribute digital content, as well as streaming, broadcasting, among other technologies, together with the exponential growth of bandwidth, allowed a true convergence of digital media. In this way, a digital medium is no longer only composed of texts and images; it also includes videos, audios, infographics and other multimedia materials.

Has technological disruption benefited the old media?

In order for us to understand the technological leap that this convergence has meant, let us mention the example of a traditional radio station. The radio station transmits its produced contents from the radio booth over the assigned frequency in the radio spectrum Simultaneously, it transmits the same content in real time through its own digital channels. Thus, the same program can be heard on radio and podcast, as well as through YouTube and the «Live» of the main social networks.

In this way, the Internet facilitates the multiplication of the audience of a traditional medium as far as creativity, content quality and marketing strategies allow it. Continuing with the previous example, the content produced in the cabin can be «evergreen», that is, remain relevant long after being produced.

So, programs can be divided into short videos to publish both on the website and on video platforms. Then, it is possible to extract the audio and, once edited, publish a podcast on platforms like Spotify.

So has this evolutionary process – as far as we know it today – actually been beneficial for the century-old newspapers and the already well-established radio and television media? The answer to this question is very complex and relative.

Although the evolution of the media has made it possible to reach a transnational audience, this has brought with it a new challenge: the monetization of that audience to the point that it can finance these companies. But we will address this issue in another article. In addition, the very evolution of the media has brought with it the spread of new myths of journalistic work that have become entrenched throughout the Internet.

The evolution of the media and the emergence of new «informants»

Social media has forced a paradigm shift in the way news and content in general are communicated, written and distributed. This disruptive change entails an enormous technological and communicational effort for a media accustomed to remaining for decades with the same format and the same editorial line.

During the endless process of evolution of the media, they have had to adapt to a new scenario where the production and consumption of information evolve from a vertical mode to a horizontal mode. Information is no longer produced exclusively by communication professionals or directed by a corporate media strategy.

On the contrary, readers and producers exchange the role in an unconscious and uncoordinated way. This occurs in a scenario where the news scoop has lost its main attention to the construction and maintenance of the reputation and trust that print the digital version of traditional media.

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