Since the Internet was introduced to the world, the information technology has developed in total new stage including journalism. Currently, the Internet media provide the fastest news in the world; it can distribute reports within one hour, or even a few minutes. In addition, unlike TVs, newspapers and radios, the Internet media are freer from censorship conducted by the government. Especially, social networking service (SNS) such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which can be also used as news media other than communicating people, has a potential to be the most effective, censorship-free and fastest distributor of the news.
The existent media such as newspapers, TVs and radio programmes are “pushing media,” which can broadcast information to the indiscriminate general public. Unlike the online media, the existent media are clearly divided into two: the senders, in other words the media, and the receivers, that is, the audience. The receivers of the existent media cannot really choose which information they browse; what a watcher of TV can do is merely changing channels. Meanwhile, the Internet has much information enough for the users to select the wanted news.
Additionally, the Internet is also called “the interactive media,” which let the users work on the media. Especially, SNS such as Twitter and Facebook presuppose the interaction of the users which consist of the information media accounts and normal people account; the normal audience “re-tweet” reports posted by the media to spread the news among other users and become a part of the media. Moreover, the users of SNS can be the first reporter of incidents; earthquakes in Japan occurs a lot of times and Twitter is one of the most useful tools to know the safety and various information on the earthquakes like magnitude, disaster spheres and damage situation thanks to Twitter’s real time renewal of the latest news.
The Internet is quick. TV programmes also could report news as fast as the online media sometimes, but it should be “breaking news” corner which has little information and time. TV’s breaking news only 30 seconds or one minute when they interrupt other programmes; sometimes they cannot be broadcasted if the existing programme plan is so important for the TV stations that they should attract the audiences. However, the Internet media have to just upload a new article when necessary and highlight it on the top page. The audience can choose whether continuing browsing normal news or jump to the breaking news according as their more attracting interests. In this criterion, the Internet media have people be more active while the existent media only allow the audience to be passive when providing information.
What’s more, the Internet media is freer from censorship. The existent media are sometimes censored and inspected by the police, military and government; for instance, Chinese main media called Xinhua News Agency is state-own medium which is often regarded as a Chinese propaganda agent. Also, Japanese media such as Nihon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) and other ones seem to be influenced by the government and corporations in that the reports related to natural disasters, disgraceful matters and bribery are distorted or concealed from time to time. In the meantime, the online media, especially SNS, provide the live voice of the actual scenes; the users tweet, broadcast and report what is happening as it is. In this case, there is no room for expressing false information or propangandised news. Seeing the real events at real time, the Internet media has the top accuracy of news.
Moreover, one of the best advantages of the Internet media is that they do not have limitation of the quantity of information to report. News programmes on the TVs and radio stations have time limit. Articles on newspapers and magazines have the amount limit of letters. If the broadcasting media extend time of their programmes, they have to change all the following plan of timetables, which consumes too much efforts to do; therefore, they seldom report breaking news in the transmissions; besides, changing planned programmes affects sponsors of TV and radio stations because they are getting money from broadcasting commercials. Once the programmes are changed, planned broadcasting commercials have to be cancelled sometimes, which gives a lot of loss to sponsors. Thus, the broadcasting media cannot easily extend news programmes and have to set limitation to broadcasting time. Also, the media made of paper such as newspapers and magazines have to be organised a certain numbers of pages. There is no newspaper which has 100 pages or magazines with 1,000 pages because no one would buy or read them because they would have uninteresting topics within them. Since the editors cannot provide writers unlimited pages to articles, reports on newspapers and magazines are supposed to have letter limitation. Meanwhile, as the Internet practically does not have the limitation of the quantity of data, the online media can add unlimited letters, pictures and videos on homepages. Twitter has 140-letter limitation, though, users can post tweets unlimitedly, which eventually allows the users write as much as they want. One page of a homepage itself has no word limitation and writers also can create infinite pages within one homepage. Therefore, the online media can provide information as much as possible, holding easiness of reading.
The internet media, however, have a significant problem. Their users have to choose appropriate, accurate and useful factor on the Internet, where too much information to check one by one are oversupplied in the ocean of data; the online media demands the audience one of the most high level media literacy. In that sense, the existent media such as newspapers and TV programmes are made by professionals; therefore, some say the audiences do not have to be sceptical about the news every time and too deeply. However, even though most existent media are expressed by professional editors, writers and producers, the information reported by them are sometimes biased by individuals, based on propaganda and contain false reports as well as the online media. Only using the existent media does not instantly become an excuse of poor media literacy.
In addition, the Internet media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have a problem of accuracy as anyone can be “journalist” in a way. As the Internet media are defined as interactive media, they have an important character of two-way communication. The audience can be, at the same time, the expressing media. The users can spread news as it happens and as they feel, but what they felt and thought could be different from what really happened. The Internet users are not always experts of expressing news; the contents of their “breaking news” often have lower quality than those produced by professional journalists working for TV, newspaper and radio. From this kind of point of view, the receivers of the news must be careful of the exactness of information and acquire the media literacy.
The Internet media played an extremely important role in the Middle East. Arab Spring which broke out in 2011 was mainly controlled and performed by SNS; Twitter and Facebook were used as tools for calling for protests and demonstration on the streets. The movement was strongly supported by the Internet media which spread information in one moment and helped the revolution a lot: Tunisian, Egyptian and Yemeni presidents were forced to resign; Libyan supreme leader was eventually killed; Saudi Arabian government decided to give political rights to women; also, Syria and Iraq are still at civil war. The revolution was broadcasted and reported by various media, but the main role player was definitely the online media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Not only in the Middle East but also in the United States, the Internet Media gave a significant influence on politics and economy. In September 2011, a demonstration which features the mask of Guy Fawkes occurred; the participants shouted “Occupy Wall Street.” The movement called Occupy Wall Street was also spread from the Internet, having an influence of Arab Spring to some extent. The protests were motivated by complaint of economic difference between the wealth and the poor. The participants professed that only one per cent of the top wealthy people in the United States holds more than 30 per cent of capitals in the United States, showing statistics. By diffusing appeal and convocation via the Internet, the movement has spread to all over the United States. Now the world is at the next stage where the Internet can change the politics and society.
Over all, the Internet has abundant amount of information; it is characteristic of the users to make choices among so much news. Moreover, the online news has the fastest speed of communicating information, which gives the audiences the knowledge of the latest situation and unlimited space for news, and does not allow rooms for censorship, which provides the report of what happened as it did after all. Even though the Internet media sometimes have false information, the users can avoid believing lies and propaganda by acquiring the proper media literacy.