How is Traditional Media embracing New Media

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World Press Freedom Day Media Dialogue 2012

Theme: New voices helping the media transform society

The Marriage between New Media and Legacy Media

By Gerald Businge Multimedia Journalist/ New Media Specialist Makerere University Department of Journalism & Communication /Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd P.O Box 36665, Kampala Uganda Tel.0414593555/0772627676/0751627676 Email:, Website: Twitter: @gbusinge


Skype: Gerald.businge.ateenyi

Googletalk: gbusinge rd

Hotel Africa, Kampala- May 3 2012


Understanding the Media (Legacy and New) As we mark World Press Freedom day, emphasis is being put on the need to ensure a free, diverse, pluralistic and vibrant media. The Media as discussed here refers to the channels of mass communication. Traditionally, newspapers and magazines (print), and Radio and Television (broadcast) have been the known and cited media. Today, New Media tools and platforms are increasingly being used by many people to access news and information.

New Media are interactive digital forms of communication that use the internet, mobile phones and related devices to avail content to users1. Unlike legacy media, New Media makes it possible for anyone to create, modify and share content with others using relatively free tools that are often free or inexpensive. These tools help anyone interested to connect, collaborate and create content when they want to. They also allow people (audience members) more freedom to access the content they want, when they want it2. But they have also has resulted in several disruptions in the traditional media practice as many of the audiences legacy media targets find alternative platforms to get informed, educated and entertained3.

I should however clarify that this paper looks at New Media Versus Legacy Media, and not journalism as a practice. I have noted a lot of debates and analyses tend to treat media and journalism as one and the same. Media are the channels of mass communication. Journalism on the other hand is the practice or craft of generating (following a set of principles that ensure public interest is served) and conveying news, descriptive material and comments on issues or events through a wide spectrum of media. From my own experience and analysis of the media or


Some examples may be the Internet, websites, computer multimedia, video games, CD-ROMS, and DVDs. New media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century that refers to on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content. Another important promise of new media is the "democratization" of the creation, publishing, distribution and consumption of media content. Another aspect of new media is the real-time generation of new, unregulated content … 2

Gerald Businge, 2010, Africa Media should think Seriously of Online and Mobile, 3 The key role of the media in society is to inform, educate and entertain.


media houses to be precise, most of them have always carried little journalism compared to other content4.

From Mass Media to Personal/Participatory Media The Legacy Media (what we traditionally knew as mass media) is giving way to one of personal and participatory media. New Media is already having profound implications for traditional business models in the media industry, which are based on aggregating large passive audiences and holding them captive during advertising interruptions 5. In the new-media era, audiences will occasionally be large, but often small, and usually tiny. Instead of a few large capital-rich media giants competing with one another for these audiences, we see small firms and individuals competing or, more often, collaborating6. In the new era, we see that People no longer passively “consume� media (and thus advertising, its main revenue source) but actively participate in the media, which usually means creating content, in whatever form and on whatever scale. This does not have to mean that people write their own newspaper or article. They could comment, rate an article or restaurant listing or the movie they watched or as sophisticated as shooting a video of their own experience and sharing it online and or mobile7. With the Ipod or the several MP3 players, people are no longer waiting to tune into a radio or television programme to consume their favourite music. They collect (from the internet or music vendors) their favourite songs, make their own lists, hit plays and they listen at will when they want to. They can easily organize their music on their devices and easily search for the song (audio or video) that they want. They can also create music lists and share them with their friends online or mobile.

We see the boundaries between audiences and creators become blurred and often invisible. In the words of David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, a search engine for blogs, one-to-many 4

Gerald Businge, 2010, Will Traditional Media survive Online? 5

Among the audience, The Economist, April 2006


Many online and mobile products and platforms for example integrate facebook and twitter, while these themselves run on software and applications made by other people (third party). 7 I usually refer to Online and or Mobile because of the integration of the two leading media. Many people access online products on their phones, and designing mobile applications for your content or products increases its access.


“lectures” (ie, from media companies to their audiences) are transformed into “conversations” among “the people formerly known as the audience”. This has changed the tone of public discussions and indeed (or should) how the media should target messages and engage people.

Like all media revolutions of the past, the real effects of new forms of communication might take long to be felt or accepted by most old communication practitioners. But no one can deny that today, in any country, the participatory media is already influencing the way news and information is shared, and thus how people are reached with messages 8.

Legacy Media embracing New Media Many Legacy media houses have tried, some commendably to take advantage of New Media tools and platforms. Look at most Uganda media houses, they have websites where they run content, while most including radio stations have facebook and twitter accounts. Some especially the Television stations have Youtube accounts and few radio stations have opened up to online podcasting. We see marriage between Legacy Media and New Media and continued embracing of either as the New Media tools are promoted in Legacy Media. But whether this marriage was or is done the right way, whether it is producing the right type of offspring, or generating the desired effects in society remain key questions of the day.

Extensions or new products? The key challenge is whether the organizational culture in these media houses has changed to really appreciate new media as great or even greater channels of communication whose potential anyone (including media houses) should tap the best way possible. Is there any media house in Uganda that is ready for the collaborative and participatory kind of communication that is at the heart of new media, or we see these institutions just extending their traditional products and thinking (we generate, deliver it, you consume) through these New Media channels? Unfortunately it is more of the latter. But there is hope of improvement given the changes that have taken place in this regard.


This is key not just for the editorial content but also for the advertising potential since advertisers want to access their target audiences and or the biggest audience possible with their messages and appeals.


Less than a year ago, The New Vision articles on their website did not have a provision to accept comments. Now they do. Daily Monitor which had this provision long before still accepts closed comments9.Other Legacy media websites are more open that these two but we see a clear move towards allowing more participation. Almost all online publications have integrated social media sharing capability on their articles to enable readers and viewers to share their content. We can see there is a commendable effort in tapping the knowledge and power of other (audience members) in commenting and sharing on the news and information articles published by media houses.

What Participation are you offering? But as we have seen, participation should not only be in terms of commenting on what has been published or sharing the content. It should involve the key component of content creation. I have personally approached some media houses and tried unsuccessfully to convince them to enable much more people to publish their own news and information, and to develop locally relevant social networks if they want to keep relevant. With the current new media trends, it helps more to provide a platform for people to create, collaborate and connect than to think of yourself as the sole or chosen creator of content, enabler of collaboration and connection of events, ideas and information. Look at Google Inc, facebook, or Youtube which top search traffic in any one country. Their strength is not in creating content or telling people what to do when, but in providing platforms for people to create, collaborate and connect with whoever they want.

Tap the power and knowledge of others on the World Wide Web However smart we are as journalists and media houses, it is important to be humble and understand the basic fact that the community out there knows much more than we do individually or as a collective. That there is much more happening out there than any media house can assign reporters to cover, and much more issues of importance than those we are aware of. If we say our media are a voice (for the voiceless), or a platform for pluralist view points; utilizing and encouraging the utilization of new media helps best in fulfill this role of the


Comments for only people who are registered and or signed in, and that have to be approved before they are published.


media. Let us enable much more of the affected people, experts or community members to tell their stories than insisting on telling their stories.

Take advantage of less or no limitations Many of our content production for legacy media is dictated by space (newspaper) and airtime (broadcast) limitations. With New Media, there are much more tools and opportunity to communicate or say as much as possible. Instead of just availing the small story that ran in your print edition, provide that full report online. Add a full text story (complimentary not same) and graphics to that video story so more people might understand what was intended to be communicated in that video or audio story you have put online online. Of course link as necessary to where readers can get more details, or where they can find more information online, as much more content is usually available online on the topic or issue you are trying to communicate.

Think and Produce Multimedia content Also, some media houses need to cross the line of thinking as a particular media type organisation- newspaper, television or radio. We hear a lot of talk about online newspaper, online TV and online radio. While these terms may be acceptable to many today, they denote a misconceived attempt at taking advantage of new media by legacy media, as online and mobile are clearly different media. While the usual text articles (and occasionally photos), streams of radio and TV are good to have online and on our mobile phones, the real power of New Media (internet and mobile) lies in the capacity to deliver your content in any media most relevant to the message and intended audience members.

We see few if any legacy media houses in Uganda that have truly multimedia news and information products on their new media channels. If we want to be effective story tellers (communicators), we need to take advantage of all media to communicate our messages (text, audio, video, images, maps, and other visualizations). The new media is enabling us to achieve this mix (as relevant) easily. I don’t have to over emphasise how photos are important in telling or illustrating a story. But I wonder why even media houses whose journalists carry the best cameras still use one photo on a story (as opposed to many photos, albums, galleries or audio 6

slideshows) even when that would be relevant. Or why many stories they publish still have no photos despite cameras being readily available.

What about telling that story in video? We all know even the best writers cannot bring out some events or scenes like a video can. Those of you who have looked at the Kizza Besigye and Arinaitwe stampede in Wandegeya, or the Moses Agaba eviction turned bloody in Luzira, will attest that no well written text story would bring out the stories in the way the video recordings did. There are many such events, places and situations that are best communicated in video form.

In the age of new media, we expect to see journalists and media houses communicating in all or any relevant media to deliver the story in the best or most relevant way. Many affordable cameras and many phones can easily take good photos, record video and audio, while the tools to edit, sore and share them are freely available. So are tools like maps to tell better location based stories, and tools to do mashups and data visualization10. Here is an example of a multimedia story

Sharing on social networks The sharing of the content so produced can also be improved through better utilization of current social networks. Media houses get their importance from getting and sustaining audience interest. Today, we know many members of the audience we so crave as media houses spend a lot of their time in social networks, interacting with others of their like. So instead of waiting for people to come find your good content on your own website or platform, or only sharing it from your website, it is good to take the content to where people are, where the discussion is going in –in the social networks. Remember to include back links to your website (article location). You can simply paste the url of your article in the posting area of your social network, or utilize the available automatic publishing tools from your website to these social networks (readily available and easy to integrate). In fact, a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that “75% of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52% say they share links to news with others via those means.” 10

Many of these tools are well explored at or searchable online.


Online news organizations should take advantage of this by using direct media, including email, Facebook, and Twitter, to deliver news to consumers — just like they would leave a newspaper on a doorstep. Importantly, the study also found that Internet users who share news with their social connections act as modern day gatekeepers as people look to their friends for the latest news, similar to how they rely on their peers for product information11.

More Updates and conversation From the presence of media houses on these social networks especially facebook, twitter and Youtube, it is clear legacy media has been well courted to accept a union with these new media platforms. But are media houses carrying out conversations in these platforms or they just drop there content-to whom it may concern? A look at most media house pages on facebook show there is less updates of the pages, and critically less interaction with the public. For example and (seen on May 2, 2012) shows an average of two or three stories shared on their pages on facebook. So were other stories not worth sharing? While you can see the hunger for participation from the audience members through comments and questions, there is hardly an answer or more information provided by the media house after posting the article link. Conversation is about back and forth communication to achieve better understanding and we don’t see that happening, despite clear evidence it builds loyalty, belonging and ownership of your platform or products. It is important for you to be in these social networks, but equally important to be there conversing with other users.

Creating own social networks Despite the clear popularity of current social networks like facebook, I strongly advocate for media houses creating their own social networks. Many people remain absent from these social networks because their needs are not clearly met or they don’t like the big crowd. Engineers can discuss engineering matters in a social way but probably not comfortably on facebook. Just as members of a particular clan that want to connect and collaborate might want a social network


David All, 2010, How Traditional Media Can thrive Online


beyond facebook. So media houses can create social platforms for smaller groups to create and interact as they want.

More importantly, as new media dismantles the mass communication model towards smaller groups, communities and individual, creating platforms to enable people communicate is key. Some commentators have aptly noted that all media and indeed communication should be social because it is at the social sharing level where most media effects take place. There are free and affordable tools to enable anyone build a social network around what they are doing. The key ingredient is letting people to join (create accounts), interact with others mostly through groups, forums, pages or just becoming friends or followers of each other. And by enabling others to meet their media and communication needs, you are creating vital audiences and sustainability in the new media era.

Mobile phone social networks There is also potential in mobile social networks that are gaining prominence especially when the costs are reduced or removed completely. It is already possible to create a social network of mobile phone numbers (as members), form groups, forums etc. An sms sent to a group will go on the mobile phones subscribing to a particular group or forum. Since mobile phones are the most widespread and used media in Uganda12, this provides a great potential to especial share content and generate ideas for cross sharing in other platforms-online and in legacy media.

Why depend on others to communicate when you have your own media? Evaluation of new media anywhere shows success depends on collaboration and sharing as opposed your solo effort to push a message forward. We know from research that most people learn what they learn from other people (and not directly from the media). The UBOS census of 2002 found that 49% of Ugandans knew what they knew from their friends and relatives, as opposed to 47% from the media13. We also know from the two-step flow of communication model (theory) that ideas flow from mass media to “opinion leaders� and from them to a wider

12 13

The Uganda Communications Mobile Telecommunications Report at the end of 2010 over 11 million subscribers. Uganda Population and Housing Census Report , 2012, Uganda Bureau of Standards, Government f Uganda.


population14. Social media networks are therefore giving a more real and better platform for others to have impact in how, to who and how far media messages can be delivered.

Platforms for formal content creation and sharing Beyond social networks, I must emphasize the need for providing platforms for others to fulfill their potential in communication. All popular and rich new media companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, Itunes, etc provide free or affordable platforms for others to do what they want. Anyone can do it to their scale, as many people remain unreached and much unreported or known.

Providing platforms like multisites for people to run their own blogs/websites is much better than just promising to run “some selected” of the many that are submitted on your key platforms. The Huffington Post ( story has shown this clearly where their collection of bloggers bring in all kinds of communities (audiences). No wonder it was sold to America Online for a whooping $315 million after just six years of operation. It is not difficult or expensive to do these kinds of platforms. Over the past year, I a print journalist until two years ago created a multisite to offer free websites and the kind of publishing abilities that we find many free hosting services can’t offer to local content producers. I have also designed and I run several listing, multimedia websites, including social networks like .

Developing different products The key is to develop vital communication products and platforms for communities or audiences you want to serve. I cannot say develop this or that product, but you just need to think about the kind of content or platform people are willing to pay to access online and or mobile. While many of us run after President Museveni’s press conference or Kizza Besigye walking to work, there are many information needs unmet that we can help meet with new media. People eat every day in different places, but the location, menu and prices of food is not easily available or known to all, just as are transport costs and times of departure to many destinations. These are just two


Paul Lazarsfelf et al, 1994


examples of the kind of new media products one can development and many users would be willing to pay for15.

Tapping Revenue opportunities in new media New and not old products in these media platforms are the answer to the much asked question of “how to do we make money in new media”. From social media audiences (or communities), those who utilize our own social media or online publishing platforms, to the particular products we create, there is an array of opportunity to earn great revenue from online content creation, sharing and collaboration. Many legacy media go online and concentrate on display ads as per the traditional advertising system. But even with the targeted contextual display advertising run by networks like Google Adsense, Adbrite, Offerforge and their ilk, the potential of earning revenue from new media lies in enabling creation and sharing of content and platforms, and especially allowing as much participation of community (audience) members.

Other than selling traditional space or time, many new media practitioners are experimenting with different option to finance their operations from subscriptions for content, selling content, selling products (get commission instead of advertising), coupon systems, classified, listing services, donations for content creation or lobbying for story funding, applications, selling platform e.g. online shops and those selling pay or you earn a percentage when they buy, special content products e.g. electronic, video and audio books, manuals, fact sheets, and any other unlimited innovations you think of. Just like any business, once you envision what you want to do and who might be willing to pay for it, you are in business. Getting buyers/users and or funds is made easier with new media.

Efficiency in Delivery/Access Whatever products or platforms are developed, the user experience needs to be at center of your undertakings. People increasingly faced with many choices need to ‘helped’ to easily find the content they want or use the platform you have created for them. From easy navigation (directions) on the websites and other platforms, to ensuring all content is searchable, media


It depends on how much you charge. But micro payments as little as 50 shs per day by mobile money can mean a lot if people are searching for restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues or product prices on your applications.


houses can avail a more efficient system for users. In the case of news, timely content delivery is key as few people are patient enough to wait till tomorrow to know what happened yesterday. From timely positing to live coverage of events 16, news media can up the north of new media usage.

Conclusion I usually hear people saying the key to a successful marriage is communication. This is true even for the marriage we are talking about between Legacy media and New Media. It vital to go online, have mobile products but success will depend on the interactions with users of content and platforms and the space you give them to be their best, fulfill their own needs. Legacy Media can overcome the disruptions posed by new media if they undertake genuine efforts to communicate- engage in conversations with people they serve or seek to serve in all possible media, and provide platforms for others to create, collaborate and share in meeting their day to day needs.



There are many free and or affordable easy to implement tools for live coverage of either text, audio, video(with either integration e.g. Cover It Live, LiveStream, Qik etc.


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