“Mobile phones are the future of media”, said DM, Publications and Media Manager at Newscli, addressing a boardroom of Rhodes university post graduate journalism and media students on Monday this week. You are probably one of the 95% of people in this country that have access to a mobile phone, compared to the 12% to 20% of South African internet users, yet you can’t be blamed for being baffled by this statement, or the flurry of facts that he poured out in his presentation.
The way media works has been radically revolutionised by the internet. With blogs, social networks and other interactive platforms, newspapers are now increasingly sourcing news content and opinions from their readers. And then using these same online tools, newspapers are presenting the news online, almost as it happens, audibly, visually and interactively.
Citizen journalism is the latest concept rocking the media world. From multiple users contributing to update the world during international events, media houses have realised that those who have journalists on the ground as soon as the news happens have an advantage- and internet users are increasingly proving themselves to be suitable candidates for these tasks. According to DM, internet users are being encouraged to use online tools to submit photos, videos, sound clips and raw information from their computers.
DM also introduced the concept of ‘Platform agnostic journalist’- the journalist who carries his camera, laptop and other gadgets to cover stories; thus enabling him to promptly publish online versions of stories complete with photos, videos and audio. Besides being multi-talented in order to write a good article, edit a decent video and take an evocative photograph; this modern journalist needs to be make use of various online tools and platforms. South Africans are browsing an estimated 1.5 billion pages a month and with 10 million unique users making 350 million page impressions a month on media sites, this is an enormous market that no media institution or professional can ignore.
With phones now increasingly being used to access the internet, and media institutions developing content specifically for the mobile, it is expected to be the best means of internet access for a majority of South Africans. While