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Communication in new media: how does it happen?

Communication in new media: how does it happen?

Where do you get news more often: from a TV newscast or from the Internet? How long ago did you buy a newspaper for the purpose of reading, and not to paste over the wall, so as not to splatter it with paint when painting a heating radiator? Do you know what a radio station is? If so, check to see if you are being charged to this day for this service that has not been working for a long time and is not in demand, because in houses built in the 60s this “miracle of civilization” was provided by default and included by default in the rent along with sewerage and water supply.

Why all these questions now? Moreover, today the formats for presenting mass information and the ways of its perception have changed a lot. You will easily adapt to any changes if you pass our programs “ Best Communication Techniques ” and “ Critical Thinking ”. And our topic today is communication in new media.

"New media": what is it?

To begin with, it seems logical to explain what “new media” is. With all the prevalence of the concept of a clear, unambiguous definition of what “new media” is, there is no information space. This situation is best described by the common phrase "how many people, so many opinions." In our case, we can say that there are just as many opinions as specialists and experts undertook to explain to a wide audience what “new media” is.

One can meet the opinion that new media is a new digital format for the existence of mass media, which implies feedback from readers and viewers and their participation in the distribution of content [ R. Neumann, 2020 ]. There is also such a view that new media are different options for presenting information via the Internet [ creativityweek, 2021 ].

We will not list all the opinions of experts, but we will agree, perhaps, with the definition that new media is a very broad concept that includes digital means of communication and ways of transmitting information, which together form the media space [ E. Stepanov, 2022 ]. Digital media is also included in the concept of "new media", but the media, even in digital format, are by no means identical to it, because the concept of "new media" is much broader.

As a matter of fact, the digital revolution just gave rise to such a phenomenon as new media. The starting point is considered to be April 19, 1995, when a terrorist attack occurred in Oklahoma (USA), and journalists first began to post news and all information related to this event on the Internet.

You can read more about how the era of online news was born and developed in the book Online News: Journalism and the Internet by American writer and journalist Stuart Allan [ S. Allan, 2006 ]. This is a kind of "history of new media", covering the first two decades since their inception.

In general, it would be fair to say that the history of new media is being written every day before our eyes, and with the direct participation of most of us, generating content on various digital platforms and responding to news, messages, information in the digital media space.

Unlike traditional media (printed newspapers, magazines, analog television, radio), new media necessarily have such characteristics as digital format, interactivity, multimedia:

  • A digital format is, scientifically speaking, a type of signal and data format that uses discrete states.
  • Multimedia is the presentation of information using various media (text, photo, video, audio, animation, etc.).
  • Interactivity is, in a broad sense, the interaction between subjects or objects.

Of course, certain elements of interactivity are also present in traditional media. For example, in the format of a concert by request. Long before the advent of the Internet, viewers could call live radio on a regular landline phone and order a song, for example, for a friend's birthday. Or write a letter and send it in the most ordinary postal envelope to the Morning Mail program with a request to put this or that song on the air.

It is clear that it was impossible to satisfy all applications, and not only because letters came in thousands, but a limited number of compositions were placed on one air. As Yury Nikolaev, a long-term presenter of the Morning Post, once admitted, if the program were compiled exactly according to the requests of the audience, then in each program the songs of Alla Pugacheva, Sofia Rotaru and Yuri Antonov would sound mainly [ RIA, 2008 ].

Many years have passed since then, digital technologies have simplified and greatly accelerated the interaction between content producers and consumers . Traditional media today are actively “migrating” towards digitalization and joining the ranks of new media. And it's not just the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Thus, televisions with the HbbTV function allow the audience to give immediate feedback, which is actively used by the organizers of various TV shows, announcing interactive contests and quizzes. Of course, on the side of the broadcaster of the show, there must be appropriate technical capabilities and equipment to establish such interaction with the audience.

To make it easier to understand what new media is, here are some examples of new media in our lives:

  • Media representations on the Internet: websites, pages in social networks, online broadcasts.
  • Internet media (media originally created exclusively for broadcasting on the Internet).
  • Social networks: news feeds, interest groups, pages of companies and bloggers.
  • HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband Television).
  • IPTV (Internet Protocol Television).
  • Forums: thematic, regional, specialized.
  • Blogs: YouTube, Instagram, VKontakte, special blogging platforms.

And this is far from a complete list of new media, which can be imagined if we follow the path of deep detailing and nuance of digital processes. On the last point, let us clarify that, in addition to the usual social networks, there are other opportunities for blogging [ M. Volotsky, 2020 ].

While not all digital platforms have an advanced design and give the impression of being cool, many are quite well indexed by search engines and are great if you want to write feature articles for a blog . These are, in particular, Yandex.Zen and LiveJournal.

Such accessibility of digital platforms sometimes creates a feeling of simplicity and frivolity of communications in new media. On the one hand, this is partly true, because anyone who has access to digital technologies can become an author or participant in the creation of new content.

On the other hand, today communication in new media is a whole science, which is taught in higher educational institutions. Here are the most famous of them:

MGIMO master's program "New media and strategic communications" [ studika, 2022 ].

Master's Degree in Digital Communications and New Media at the RANEPA Institute of Social Sciences [ RANEPA, 2022 ].

Department of New Media and Communication Theory at the Faculty of Journalism at Lomonosov Moscow State University [ MGU, 2022 ].

What is so difficult about communications for new media that it needs to be studied at a university? Of course, we will not duplicate the program of the university within the framework of the article, but we will definitely tell you about the types of media communications.

Types of communications in new media

To begin with, it is worth clarifying that when we talk about communications in new media, we mean mainly mass communications. Of course, with the understanding that digital technologies have significantly modified individual interpersonal communication as well. Mass communications means the dissemination of any information among a certain impersonal and territorially dispersed audience in order to inform and influence the opinions and behavior of people.

Our course " Mass Communication: Fundamentals of Communication with a Wide Audience " provides insight into this process. And even a cursory glance at the course content shows how many nuances mass communications have and how much knowledge you need to master in order to professionally build communication with a large impersonal audience and achieve results in the form of any actions: buy, vote, support a certain point of view.

That is why in serious organizations (commercial companies, political parties) rather well-educated people who have direct experience of interacting with the audience as journalists, presenters, etc. are responsible for mass communications. Back in the early 2010s, the most advanced figures highly appreciated the role of new media in political communication and considered the Internet as a tool for shaping a new political reality [ P. Karpov, 2013 ].

Yes, the bulk of communication with the audience in today's world is carried out through new media. And even if an interview with a significant person is published in a regular print publication, it is almost immediately duplicated on digital platforms.

So, there are several types of media communications according to the channels of perception involved. These are audio communications (radio, podcasts), visual communications (photo, video), kinesthetic communications (mail, mailing lists, messages with the possibility of feedback), digital communications (Internet media) [ P. Chernozubenko, 2021 ]. This division is very conditional, and the boundaries between the above types of communications are fairly blurred.

So, a mounted selection of photos can be accompanied by an audio sequence, and then this is already an audiovisual communication. Video can be without words, and at the same time carry a certain message, which we often see in advertising. The possibility of feedback in the form of comments can be provided for both a text message and a video. There are many such examples of communication in new media.

Does all of the above mean that over time, traditional media will give way to new media completely? Probably, it is unlikely, because today there are more and more calls for digital minimalism and the appeal to traditional formats for obtaining information: paper books, films in a cinema, etc.

On the other hand, there is a clear trend of interaction between new and traditional media [ N. Iovva, 2020 ]. Traditional media, as we have already found out, are “migrating” into digital reality and striving for greater interactivity, while new media are actively “feeding” on material from official traditional media, reacting to published materials and news, offering their own analytics, initiating discussions on topics or other socially significant problems.

So, how are communications carried out in various new media? Let's take a look at the most popular options.

Communication methods :

  • Create your own content for sharing: ads, blogs, tutorials, articles, podcasts, audiobooks, videos, and more.
  • Reaction to third-party content: likes, comments, reactions in the form of hearts and emoticons, reposts, recommendations, subscribing to pages and groups on social networks, adding an item to the cart, reviews of goods and services, answering questions on an online questionnaire or online quiz.
  • Feedback from users who have responded to your content: likes and replies to comments, gratitude for reposting, prizes for the correct answer to quiz questions.
  • Creating your own content for targeted access to a numerically limited audience: email newsletters, closed blogs, closed groups in social networks, subscription access, limited access for those who have a link, etc.
  • Information and announcements for a large impersonal or numerically limited audience: turning off water in a city, district, house, parent chat of a school, gymnasium, lyceum, kindergarten, general chat for partners of a cosmetics distributor company.

In principle, information and announcements could not be singled out as a separate item, because any information and announcement is also content. However, it just so happened that the word “content” usually means something more global and large-scale than messages like “a meeting for parents 2-B will take place on Friday at 18.00”, so it is advisable to single out this kind of communication separately.

This is how communications in new media look in the most generalized form. Of course, they can be further systematized and nuanced by direction: political, commercial, business , informational, literary and artistic, etc.

In particular, content can be created for an online store in order to sell the goods presented there, for a political party website in order to attract votes in elections, for social networks in order to promote one's creativity, business, monetization.

In general, there are three main levels of communication in new media [ Yu. Biryukova, E. Novgorodova, E. Kichkina, 2021 ].

Communication levels :

  • Possibility to choose content, consumption time and information display format (what, where and when to watch, read, listen).
  • Opportunity to contribute to the formation of the media space (own publications, comments, reviews).
  • Ability to communicate with other content consumers (in real time or asynchronously).

As you can see, the methods and levels of communication in a sense correlate with each other. So, like and repost are one level of communication, and discussion of content with its creator is already a level higher. But that's not all.

Media art in new media

A separate topic is media art or media art, when digital objects created for the purpose of communication acquire artistic value. So, virtual tours of museums, on the one hand, perform the task of general acquaintance with the exposition and attracting visitors to live tours.

On the other hand, almost any 3D tour becomes an artistic value in itself, both because of the demonstration of works of art and the interior decoration of ancient buildings, and because of the possibilities of digital design.

An example is a virtual tour of the Hermitage [ Hermitage, 2022 ]. Or any other 3D tour of the most famous museums in the world, for example, from among those presented in a special selection [ Virtu-visit, 2022 ].

In this case, we are talking about communication with the content consumer, because, firstly, there is a choice of which museum you want to go to and which of the expositions to see. And secondly, you can directly control the process of the tour by returning to the beginning, zooming in on the object you are interested in, etc.

Thus, all the components of new media are presented here: digital format, interactivity, multimedia. To an even greater extent, such a factor as interactivity is represented in computer games , virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. In any computer game, be it walking-shooters or car racing, the player himself models his actions and, accordingly, wins or loses.

AR (augmented reality) technologies allow, relatively speaking, to “catch Pokemon” anywhere you want. VR (virtual reality) technologies can simulate both active interaction with the environment and conditionally passive perception of virtual reality content.

Conditionally passive because, with all the understanding that you are now sitting in a comfortable chair in a VR helmet, and not in a horse-drawn cart, you still take your breath away on sharp turns, when the cart seems to be about to “tip over” ". One way or another, you interact with the environment either through active actions or through reactions to the content offered.

And, of course, almost all computer games, virtual or augmented reality plots with their colorful digital design are a real work of art of the digital genre. This is about new directions opened by digital technologies.

However, the "digit" everywhere penetrates into traditional forms of creativity. So, such concepts as digital photography and digital painting , media installation and media performance have already become familiar. Music tracks and videos have long been created exclusively in digital format so that they can be distributed through digital platforms: radio stations, TV channels, the Internet.

And, probably, the topic of communication in new media will not be fully disclosed if one more question is not answered: why?

Why do we need new media?

In view of the foregoing, this question may seem naive to some. Indeed, what does “why do we need new media?” mean, if we just told in detail how we use them?! In fact, this question makes sense.

If we were all completely satisfied with traditional media and the format of information perception that was available in the venerable times of the dominance of print newspapers and analog television, no new media simply could take root due to their lack of demand.

And as soon as new media have taken root, are actively developing and capturing more and more new spaces, forcing traditional media to transform and “keep up with the era”, it means that new media were potentially in demand and expected by a wide audience.

That is why they have become so widespread as soon as technological progress has made it possible to implement a new communication paradigm. Some even talk about "10 new media communication paradigms in the digital age" [ J. Orihuela, 2017 ]. What are these paradigms?

Communication paradigms in new media:

  • From the audience to the user - the user can choose what and when to read and watch, and how actively interact with the information environment, without having restrictions on the frequency of newspapers and magazines, the time of airing of a particular TV program, etc. .
  • From format to content - it doesn't matter anymore whether you watch CNN, BBC or Channel One news on TV or on the Internet. The image of the content is becoming much more important than the media format.
  • From monomedia to multimedia – digital technologies make it possible to seamlessly combine all means of presenting information (video, audio, picture, text), which is why online media can hardly be clearly identified as a newspaper or TV channel.
  • From periodicity to "here and now" - information is no longer tied to the date of the newspaper or the time of the TV show. The media updates the news feed as news arrives.
  • From scarcity to abundance , there is no more need to “hunt” for information. “ Information hygiene ” and the task of protecting oneself from excessive “information noise” are becoming more relevant .
  • Network decentralization - today no one has a monopoly on information, even the official media. Any information can be multiplied in many ways, as well as the reaction to it.
  • From distribution to access - the terms "subscription" and "distribution" in relation to traditional media implied subscription to newspapers and magazines in the truest sense of the word, because. the subscription was made on a paper form, and their delivery to subscribers by a certain date. Access to content in the context of new media implies only access to the Internet if the content is free for free distribution, or access to the Internet and electronic subscription if the content is distributed by subscription and / or for a fee.
  • From autonomy to interactivity - interaction with users in new media, in contrast to one-way broadcasting or one-way presentation of information in traditional media, which assumed minimal and delayed feedback from readers and viewers.
  • From linear storytelling to hypertext - if a traditional TV news release has a clear structure and presentation of material from international events to events in the world of culture and sports, the Internet involves the issuance of information as it becomes available and tagging by topic if someone wants to read the news economics, politics or medicine.
  • From data to knowledge , big data sets the media back to the strategic role of “social knowledge managers”. How they cope with this is a separate question, the answer to which everyone is looking for for themselves.