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1-1.5 pages12pt/Double-spacedAPA Format with title page and separate reference sheetAfter reading the attached documents complete the following assignment by synthesizing the readings. Considering the statement “technologies are simply tools” write a short essay that incorporates answers to the following prompts: A) Explain how that statement relates to the key words describing new media: “manipulate, converge, and instant.” B) How does the concept of intercultural impact of new media increase the complexity of the statement? You should especially consider the new experiences, for human beings that the convergences of new media and globalization bring about.


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21st Century Communication: A Reference
Traditional and New Media
Contributors: Rayford L. Steele
Edited by: William F. Eadie
Book Title: 21st Century Communication: A Reference Handbook
Chapter Title: “Traditional and New Media”
Pub. Date: 2009
Access Date: April 14, 2019
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications, Inc.
City: Thousand Oaks
Print ISBN: 9781412950305
Online ISBN: 9781412964005
Print pages: 489-496
© 2009 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the pagination of the online
version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
© 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.
SAGE Reference
Traditional and New Media
As each generation enters our media-driven society, the term new media becomes very relative to their time
and their immediate experience. Those readers born after the early 1980s have little experience in a world
that was mostly not digital, and the “new media” around them were not new, just what they became familiar
with in their time.
The purpose of this essay is both to create a very contemporary understanding of new media and to provide
readers with a somewhat broader context that may help them as their “new media” become traditional and
the next set of new media emerges, as it inevitably will.
If you are fortunate enough to survive a few decades, change will inevitably occur, and new media will be
something else, again and again, no matter what it was when you started paying attention to it.
As a reader, I was, and I am even more today, a bit of a skeptic who wants to know why people know what
they say they know. Thus, I will begin with a little of my own personal story, which may help you better understand the reason why a broader context may be valuable to you as you consider new media.
I am the first baby boomer, or one of the first. I was born just after midnight on January 1, 1946. The most
common traditional medium of the time was radio, along with the daily paper. Families still actually gathered
around the radio and listened to Sky King, Fibber McGee and Molly, and other shows. While television had
been introduced to the public at the 1938 World’s Fair and CATV was just getting its start in Oregon and in the
hills of Pennsylvania, new media was not much of a public issue just after World War II, nor was computing,
though it existed.
By the early 1950s, however, television, the “new media” that was going to ruin radio, had begun to invade
living rooms. It was a black-and-white and often fuzzy picture, and programming was limited. It was relatively
expensive to own, and it was erratic in service, especially in areas outside cities.
Our neighboring family, an older couple, owned a television set and often invited us to join them for the Jackie
Gleason Show, Ed Sullivan Hour, or wrestling, which had a sizable following long before the version we know
today. Television was “new media.” It did not destroy radio, though it changed it, and it was peculiarly American.
As we moved through the late 1950s, television was evolving, with better dramatic programming and news
and political content becoming part of the normal fare. Color television was just around the corner.
The Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates were televised in 1960, changing the playing field and the cost of
politics forever, and computing continued to grow in larger organizations. Can you imagine in today’s world of
political coverage on television and Web sites what those debates were like almost 50 years ago?
President John F. Kennedy proposed that we send a man to the moon, which ultimately broke the boundaries
of our imagined tether to this planet. In 1957, satellites were launched, and this began to change the scope
and distribution of new media in the 1960s, and color became the big deal as television evolved into three
powerful networks that became our primary source of news, entertainment, and advertising.
Although the picture phone had been developed by AT&T’s Bell Labs in the late ′50s and realized some limited
use in the 1960s, there were really no new media beyond network television that were publicly recognized as
I finished college and army service and entered law school as the ′70s began. The satellite and later CATV
were less new media and more new distribution devices for television-based programming in those days. Of
course, CATV, or community antenna television, was expected to destroy the broadcast networks, according
to some authorities attending the International Radio and Television Society meetings in New York City with
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me in the mid-to late 1970s. I went on to become a Frank Stanton fellow with the International Radio and
Television Society, and the broadcast networks somehow survived.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the new media issue initially focused mainly on how to record television
programs. While the first prototype of a videotape recorder was reported to have been demonstrated all the
way back in November of 1951, at Bing Crosby’s recording studio in Los Angeles, it took until the late 1970s
for the industry to finally sort out the competing standards and get something nearly inexpensive enough for
the consumer market, if you consider about $1,000 for a VCR a competitive price (Lardner, 1987).
As I entered the 1980s, three major events began to shape the context in which new media and my own career would evolve.
The computer had been evolving since the 1930s, when John Atanasoff had developed the Atanasoff Berry
Computer. Then came the ENIAC in the ′40s, and then the first UNIVAC computer was delivered to the U.S.
Census Bureau in June 1951 by Remington Rand Corporation. Thomas Watson Jr. pushed IBM into building
computers in 1950. Thus, with this background of big, military, government, and large corporation-based central (mainframe) computing, a major shock occurred when the PC began to become a part of the desktop and
the home. While it was 1976 when Jobs and Wozniak introduced the Apple I, by the early ′80s IBM had rolled
out its PC and rapidly surpassed little Apple in sales (Bellaver, 2006). The age of distributed computing and
incredible personal computing power on your desktop had arrived.
The second major event was the early ′80s move by the Federal Communications Commission to allow a little
of the federally controlled broadcast spectrum to be used for limited consumer wireless telephones. It was
expensive and limited, but it began what we all take for granted today as our right to mobile communication,
and that had implications for new media.
The third event was the breakup of AT&T, which officially occurred on January 1, 1984, after the consent
decree was issued on August 5, 1983 (Bellaver, 2006). That milestone created the opportunity for the rapid
expansion of competitive communications and technology development, leading to the networks we take for
granted today.
I will not unduly bog the reader down with too much detail—I think the above three events are central to my
own, as well as your sense of context, as we move on to our shared time in the 21st century. Certainly, my
life and career were forever changed by these events, and so was my sense of “new media,” although it was
not always that clear to me at the time.
From 1982 to 1984, I led the process at the University of Pittsburgh that resulted in the creation of the first
“Campus of the Future” in U.S. higher education. This eventual partnership with AT&T involved creating the
first voice (phone) data (networked computing) and video system converged on a fiber-optic network for the
entire campus. While it was a mix of analog and digital technologies, you could get what you wanted electronically, where you wanted it, when you needed it, and it allowed limited interaction with distant source machines
as if you were in the same room. It sounds fairly standard by today’s experience.
This prototype was evolved by 1987, in another partnership with AT&T, at Ball State University, and became
a “market model” for both K-12 and higher education. I went on to lead projects like it across the country as
head of my own consulting firm.
It was the precursor application, a kind of analogdigital hybrid of what we are now used to in applications as
we use wired and wireless digital applications involving audio, video, text, and graphics. The university went
on to become the number-one wireless university in 2005, according to Intel.
This market model demonstrated the kind of electronic environment that was able to deliver or shift in format
many content sources. The basic policy implications of this shift had caused problems for the FCC chairman
years before, in 1980, when he questioned “whether a newspaper delivered electronically is an extension of
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print and therefore free of regulation (First Amendment protection) or whether it is a broadcast and consequently under the control of (FCC rules) government” (Drake, 1995, p. 162). Electronic life had policy complications, and that could have implications for new media.
Without overcomplicating this legal mine field, simply understand that, in January 2008, the writers’ strike,
which almost ground Hollywood to a halt in production, was greatly about how writers are paid for the extended use of their work in new media areas. Most of the concern occurred when convergence allowed digitized
content to move from known to new contexts.
Let me bring my story to an exit point briefly. The experiences I gained led me to found the Graduate Center
for Information and Communication Sciences at Ball State University and to become a founding board member and President and Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Distance Learning Association in the late 1980s,
where we would see satellite-delivered video education sessions evolve to online delivered classwork and
streamed video, even cell-phone-based sessions. Through the 1990s, I led converged network-based campus projects across the United States and saw the evolution of what started as a military network and evolved
to universities and then to what we all take for granted today, the Internet. The VCR and the videodisk evolved
to the DVD and hard drives that digitally stored video content, and the simple cell phone evolved to become
a device for entertainment, texting, and visual directions delivered from satellite as well as the more common
telephone device.
In 2003, I founded the International Digital Media and Arts Association and still serve on its board and as its
executive director. I am continuously confronted by “new media” evolving from what I thought I understood
to be new media, which have either disappeared or become the new old traditional media—does anyone remember eight-track tapes for audio?
This is the context, the ever more rapidly changing context, in which I will discuss new media, and I hope
you will learn as I did not to hold too tight to your definition. Things change, and so will you. Nevertheless,
we will also discuss some things that I hope you will agree are constants and fundamental to our common
experience and to our shared future.
New Media versus Traditional Media
As you now know from the preceding introduction, new versus traditional media definitions must relate to context and time from my experience. Almost every related technology, at some point in its evolution, may have
been considered “new media.” That makes defining it a bit tough.
Be that as it may, let us establish a contemporary working definition for the purpose of this essay and use it
as a baseline as we move forward. Although it is not as simple as we might like, the term digital might serve
as our baseline label for defining new media with some reservations.
If we say that new media encompasses those technologies that move, store, manage, and allow manipulation
of digitized information, whether for news, entertainment, communication, visual or other purposes, we may
have a starting point.
We must remember that we are dealing with one of the more complicated areas in life, communication, and
one of the more complex concepts, information. Every hour of our waking days we create information of all
kinds. If we do it digitally, it is reduced to ones and zeros and then what? We must find an appropriate medium
for communicating both the code and the message contained in that code with our desired audience. Media,
new or old, do not exist for themselves, shocking as this may be to a sizable segment of the working world;
they exist to help human beings get their information communicated.
Let us take a relatively simple example. A graphic artist has been asked to create the cover of the catalog for
a digital art exhibit in Chicago. The exhibit has a theme, a title, artist contributors, a sponsor or some source
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of support, a somewhat defined audience, and the rest of the world, today or whenever in the future, who
might pay some attention to this cover work.
All of the elements mentioned above were present “before digital,” but “after digital,” things are a bit more
complex. While there is still the challenge to the graphic designer to create the visual information that communicates an acceptable, appropriate, and even creatively reinforcing message about the exhibit, in the new
media world, life is both better and much more complicated.
Before digital designers had their experience, some limited research time to review related designs that were
available nearby, the wishes of those who commissioned the work, the challenge of a relatively limited audience with modest potential for broad exposure—with limited lasting and broad-based archival potential, and
their courage and creativity.
Now, what has changed after digital? Graphic designers still have the experience, but with the Internet and
worldwide access to both contemporary and archival examples, the research of related designs can be both
extraordinary and daunting. When do you stop? With texting, cell phones, e-mail, and other invasive personal
access, when does the designer get enough input from those who commissioned the work, whose gallery
will be featured, or whose works will be inside the catalog that the design will cover? Then, designers must
also consider the impact of worldwide access to their work since it will, no doubt, be added to a Web page
and available across the globe now and likely archived for future reference. Nevertheless, perhaps the saving
grace is that artists still have their creativity and courage, and that may be the true bridge for all of us between before digital and after digital. As we move forward in this essay, the real issue between old media and
new media may continuously come back to the concept of integrity in communicating information, and that
involves the courage of the reader/viewer to question the accuracy of the content and the commitment of the
creator of this information to integrity.
Exploring Technology and the Myth of Interactivity
Techencyclopedia’s ( definition of new media is an intriguing one:
The forms of communicating in the digital world, which includes electronic publishing on CD-ROM,
DVD, digital television and, most significantly, the Internet. It implies the use of desktop and portable
computers as well as wireless, handheld devices. Most every company in the computer industry is
involved with new media in some manner.
For more than 20 years, we have been in an era of digitally based technologies that allow manipulation of all
forms of digitized content that can be converged on broadband (often fiber optics) and easily and instantly
transmitted across the planet via the Internet.
Before we leap forward to the myth of interactivity, it is critical to our lives as citizens of the 21st century
that we consider what is significant about this technology discussion. It is not the coolness of Blueray or HD,
iPhone, MP3, GPS, VoIP, or any other technologies. These will shift with engineering breakthroughs. Marketing will rename or reconfigure a service to enhance sales, and new opportunities will evolve, as they always
have done. Technologies are simply tools.
What is important to us as we contrast new media and traditional media in a digital world is to understand the
key words used in the foregoing. They are manipulate, converge, and instant, whether referring to accessed
information or to transmitted information.
As citizens and potential professionals in the digital world, we have every aspect of our lives affected by new
media. To be well informed, even educated members of our society, we cannot be naïve about the implicaPage 5 of 13
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tions of these three key words.
Let us begin with manipulate. Once you digitize an image, a document, a film segment, it can be relatively
easily manipulated. Now, we have been manipulating all sorts of media, and everything else for that matter,
for a very long time. Analog films and video were edited, and “wet” or film-based photography was also manipulated, as were written articles or text. Our issue today in new media is that manipulation is relatively easy
and most users of digital technology can do it: Certainly, younger people who have grown up digital find this
to be no big deal to do. That was not the case in the analog world.
If a photograph used in a trial was manipulated in the analog world, there were a relatively finite number
of professionals who might have had the experience or skill level to achieve this. Today, with a cell phone
camera, little experience, and some relatively inexpensive software, it is no big achievement to capture and
manipulate an image.
On Friday night, when we need to just get out of our space and see a film on the big screen, we do not care
if the film footage was digitized in Hollywood and sent via broadband to New York, London, and Wellington,
New Zealand for simultaneous editing by three different groups working onAVIDS as long as what we see on
the big screen is entertaining to us. The end justifies the means for us.
Nevertheless, if two students, one in Queensland, Australia, and the other in Muncie, Indiana, are taking an
online distance-learning class and go to a Web site and each turns in a paper that has a number of paragraphs “lifted” from the site and inserted into each of their papers without credit, this easy-to-do manipulation
of text is called plagiarism, and it is especially painful if the faculty member happens to notice or if he or she
is using software that now checks papers for this sort of dishonesty.
What is the point here for us? New media in a digital world open up vast manipulation opportunities to masses.
The benefits, for example, to film making are remarkable. Without integrity as a key element in user judgment,
the potential for disservice to our society is significant in every field you can list due to the pervasiveness of
our digital world. From identity theft to digital photo makeovers to political contests, we have a new obligation
as citizens in the digital, new media age. We cannot assume that integrity is always a primary consideration
in what we see and read, and, thus, critical thinking and a healthy dose of skepticism are required.
Convergence is the next key word. While not simple to achieve, it refers to a digital world where telephony,
computer data, and video are all digitized signals that can be transmitted and switched over the same network
that …
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