Techno-universalisation a great leveler in media and a detriment at the same time

Techno-universalisation a great leveler in media and a detriment at the same time

By Amjad Saleh

ABU DHABI, 19th November, 2022 (WAM) -- The universalisation of technology is possibly the main game-changer in the media industry, with the number of internet users rising from just 413 million in 2000 to over 5 billion in 2022, was one of the key findings of the sessions held during the Global Media Congress, which concluded on Thursday.

Admittedly, this universalisation has provided people worldwide with the power to deliver news, spotlighting what goes on in the world and offering free and honest reporting of global events from anywhere in the world!

While such rates of global access to technology can be positive, there can be negative aspects as well, as control over the editorial and fact-checking processes in journalism shifts handing the levers to internet users worldwide, enabling the rampant spread of misinformation. Relevant to this, the COVID-19 pandemic also catalysed a massive influx of online content creators, which, in turn, constituted a rise in creator platforms.

Another fact is that new generations are all about the thrill, meaning that it is now vital for news providers to put together content that is both gripping and informative, what is commonly known as ‘infotainment’, to ensure higher viewership and, ultimately, their survival. Additionally, media institutions are required to expand across the different online platforms available today to manoeuvre through the hypercompetitive climate in the present-day media sector.

Meanwhile, data analytics and artificial intelligence have paved the way for enhanced capabilities in identifying media consumption trends and developing new, more creative storytelling paradigms to attract wider audiences, with the users’ focus becoming more on the allure than the quality and value of the content presented.

While accelerating growth and bringing down the cost of content production, these tech solutions have also allowed creators and platforms to put more energy into content trust and validation. This paradigm shift necessitates greater investment in such technology across newsrooms, a feat that can be difficult for startups, which often have trouble securing financing and turn to government funding and philanthropy as an alternative.

Journalism has become a tug of war between fact and opinion, which is further fuelled by a dichotomy between creating elaborate, insightful pieces or short pieces that draw more viewers.

This segmentation across the media industry is a divide that, if bridged, would birth a new and united media community, where different skillsets complement each other, where the tech-savvy shape the form of stories while the journalism specialists take care of the themes and fact-checking.

On the other hand, technologies like the metaverse, while providing an endless source of entertainment, may also affect connections between people, experts at the Global Media Congress highlighted. Navigating such muddy waters must be done with a great deal of caution, to ensure that such technology is rolled out, while mitigating its adverse effects on real-life social interactions.

Education, specialists agree, would be the most effective tool in building media-literate conscious communities, which should start at homes, with parents, and extend across schooling systems and the very institutions and professionals that are responsible for delivering news and media content, especially since mis- and dis-information can have great security impacts on nations, as well as in spreading panic among heedless masses. The rapid pace that life has reached, and the endless avenues that fight to grab the attention of people, leave everyone with a time shortage and a craving for the effortless rush that hugely contribute to their indifference to fact-check the information they consume and a penchant for enjoying narratives that lack in value and meaning.

Another aspect that the industry should focus on is investment in training and upskilling, media experts asserted, providing media professionals with greater editorial and fact-checking skills to enable them to produce higher-quality content, be it analytical and investigative pieces or short TikTok videos.

The world is also taking to fleeting media fads due to their appeal as an easy source of serotonin and dopamine, natural substances that, while vital to our existence, can have an addictive impact that is by no means a trivial matter.

Diverting the attention of the people of the world away from character-building experiences is the problem, and the solution? Eliminating the growing asymmetry by striking a balance between the pleasuring effect these technologies and new media provide, and the valuable and necessary knowledge acquisition that they facilitate.