The tough challenge posed by new media platforms

We cannot even anticipate where this collective passion in the world of social media will lead us to. We are almost fully immersed in these platforms – either in terms of friendships, personal relations or finding out about developments across the world.

What’s certain is that these new platforms have not yet become stable. It’s clear that our lives are moving at a faster pace in a greater momentum. We’ve found ourselves captives of that mysterious need which mobilizes us to be active on these platforms and to display our lives and opinions through them.

This epidemic has defeated us and we’ve become captives to the need to be in direct touch with everything that happens to us and with developments across the world.

This transformation almost affects everything including journalism and the media. Those who work in this field are sometimes worried as we observe the transformations taking the world by storm and which everyone is rushing to keep up with in a random or tiresome manner sometimes.

Social media succeeded at granting people a voice but, in many cases, it turned into a negative voice that’s full of hatred and seclusion.

Diana Moukalled

The tools of publishing media and journalistic content have changed. Everyone’s major concern now is how to harmonize between journalistic work and the nature of modern platforms, particularly social media, which is somehow our way of formulating our relations with what is happening around us. This has somehow led to a lack of centralized information.

What we have witnessed in the Arab world on several occasions in the Arab region are not all negative. Yes, in the beginning of the revolutions, social media helped spread awareness and mobilize people; however, its success was soon undermined.

Emotional reactions and populist demagogic speeches have dominated these platforms.

This is in addition to monitoring of people’s activities and pursuing them or prohibiting these social media websites altogether. Social media succeeded at granting people a voice but, in many cases, it turned into a negative voice that’s full of hatred and seclusion.

The written word

When it comes to social media, we’ve witnessed what resembles the death of the written word in favor of a bigger role for videos and photos. Everyone seems to prefer brief ideas over long and thorough discussions. However, no development whatsoever can deprive journalism of its basic role.

Every time a new technological innovation emerges, the media changes and this change is accompanied by the fear that it will replace the technology which preceded it. Those who worked in newspapers fear the development of the radio, and those who worked in the radio fear the development of television. And all of the former are confused and worried about the internet.

However, all these tools ended up co-existing and they even cooperated to present news stories in different ways. There is no reason to think that the media’s modern tools will not be part of this model. What’s certain is that the way news is consumed changes but its content and the basics of a journalistic story remain unchanged.

Smart media is the one which is not only capable of using these new tools to expand and reach a wider audience but which is also capable of trying out new ways to present news and feature stories.

On the level of Arab countries, the challenge is tougher considering the strong relations between investment and authorities.

Therefore, the talk of a competitive market that harmonizes between the story’s capability to create an influence and new tools is still in its nascent stage and there are many obstacles facing it.

Therefore, instead of becoming a source for new opportunities, developments in the field of media and technology have heightened the confusion in the ranks of the Arab media.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 03, 2016.
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Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

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