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New Media and Old Media

The following essay will discuss old media and new media using comparing and distinguishing between the two. It will state the arguments raised by new media supporters and critics. Finally, a conclusion will be reached on either new media or old media is better and whether new media is better replaces old media completely. New media has to do with the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technology; hence, most technologies described as new media are digital and comprise manipulatable characteristics. For example, information can be easily pervaded is dense.

A good example of new media is the internet. As Flew (2005) put it, ” new media has commonly been equated with the internet.” In contrast, old media comprise all mediums that existed before the introduction of the internet, e.g. cable television, radio, movie and music studios, newspapers, broadcast and magazines, books and most publications. Moreover, popularity and preference for new media do not replace old media completely. For example, the rise of internet television did not mean the end of television.

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Networks play a significant role in distinguishing new media from old media, as is indicated by the changes that took place after the introduction of the interconnected and interactive networks, which enabled the transmission of information from the sender to be the same even to the receiver. Unlike in the past, information can flow at a faster rate regardless of geographical location, which was the case in the past because of telephony systems “which had been based upon circuit switching and geographically limited networks” (Flew:2005). Networking also develops as a result of network development. As Holmes (2005: 184) argued, “New media has the ability to connect like-minded others worldwide.”

The new media network is decentralized, unlike in the old media wherein it was centralized and controlled to promote the interest of those in control as Castells (1996 as cited by Flew:2005) argued, “the development of a global and growing decentralized communications network with the internet, combined with the growing importance of information and knowledge as the basis of competitive advantage in the economy as well as other spheres, means that the network form increasingly shapes the logic of social interaction across diverse spheres of social interaction.”

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The degree of convergence distinguishes old media and new media. Convergence is the combination of computing and other information of technologies, media content and communication networks that were given rise to by the introduction and growth in importance of the internet and the activities, products and services that have emerged in the digital media space ( Poor:2006). In the past, “Television and radio signals were carried over the airwaves; telephony was carried across single-form networks and exchange; and computers either took a form of stand-alone mainframes or battery-operated forms such as pocket calculators” (Flew: 2005).

Due to this, it was impossible to have phones which are Web-enabled and have radio or television within them, which enables one to access emails, the internet and watch television. Attributed to the convergence of new media, “We are witnessing the evolution of a universal interconnected network of audio, video, and electronic text communications that will blur the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication” (Neumann cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322). New media offers access to text, videos, images and audio from one device without having to rotate but only clicking or pressing buttons on the same device; due to new media, the internet can be accessed through a phone, iPod or PSP, unlike in the past wherein it could only be accessed through a computer.

Television is no longer a non-portable cable device that cannot be carried around like in the past, nowadays it can be on a phone or personal computer just as much as a computer does not have to be a big desktop, but it can be a small portable laptop. Interactivity is also an important distinguisher between old and new media. Any individual with the appropriate technology can now produce online media and include images, text, and sound about whatever they choose. The new media radically shapes the ways we interact and communicate with one another. Interactivity is central to new media; interactivity includes radio and television talk shows, letters to the editor, listener participation in such programs, and computer and technological programming.

In the old media, interactivity was less as newspapers, television, and radios did not consider the opinions and preferences of individuals because communication was a way of conversation, a one-to-many. Thus people were given what the media thought was right for them. Still, nowadays, the degree of interactivity has increased even though it does not necessarily mean that every new media has some interactivity elements but mostly do as it is indicated by computers which can talk back these days, phones which comprise of handwriting recognition so forth.

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Terry Flew (2005) argues that “the global interactive games industry is large and growing, and is at the forefront of many of the most significant innovations in new media” (Flew 2005: 101). Interactivity is prominent in the new media; new media developments enable users to establish relationships and experience a sense of belonging, despite temporal and spatial boundaries. In addition, new media can be used as an escape or to act out a desired life using online games, which offer a higher degree of interactivity.

The degree of new media’s global reach also distinguishes new media from old media. In the past, radio and television as the popular media mediums broadcasted only local news because of the difficulty of acquiring international news and censorship. Still, at the same time, it can be attributed to the slowness in the development of better n quicker networks. Newspapers and magazines could only be sold because of the costs and rules associated with printing in some countries. By the time one reads about something, it could be old news already, which means not all people can access or know what is going on around the world without going there.

As a result of new media, it is simple for everyone to know what is going on in Africa within a minute after it happened while he\she is in Asia and better than reading one can see using videos and images what really transpired for example, within much time after the death Michael Jackson virtually everyone who has access to the internet already knew about it. On the same day, YouTube (a website) reported that it received millions of condolences messages from users to the family and fans.

Furthermore, the global reach degree is indicated by the ever-increasing number of what Rheingold (2000) describes as “Virtual communities” formed on the internet by people from different countries. He further argues that “these globalized societies are self-defined networks, which resemble what we do in real life. For example, people in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries. So they argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, create a little high art and a lot of idle talks” (Rheingold cited in Slevin 2000: 91).

In light of the comparisons and differentiation arguments stated above, it is discernible that new media to a certain degree is not much different from old media but what distinguishes the two is the betterment or advancement of the old media by the new media; notable differences are the options offered to users by the new media, unlike the old media. Thus, the consumption of new media does not completely replace old media, as indicated by television.

  • Name: Hope Munyai
  • Students no. : 418083
  • Level: Media Studies 1004
  • Course: Broadcast and New Media (SLLS 1004)
  • Lecturer : Prof. Tawana Kupe
  • Tutor : Lehlohonolo Phatudi
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ESSAY TOPIC: ‘ New media has had a significant impact on existing or ‘old’ media forms of broadcasting.’ Referring to convergence properties, interactivity, networking, global reach, explore the difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’ media. Abstract. We constantly hear terms like ‘new’ media and ‘old’ media, what exactly is ‘new’ media and ‘old’ media and what are the features which distinguish between the two, in exploration and discussion of the two, it becomes clear and discernible that the new one is just the betterment of another one by giving more options to the user which was not given by the old one, but as different as they are the new one does not completely replace the old one. Plagiarism Declaration. I hereby declare that this is my original work and has not been copied or cited without relevant referencing. Signature and date:


  • Castells, Manuel, (1996) Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture volume 1, Massachusetts, Blackwell Publishing
  • Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.
  • Croteau, David & Hoynes, William (2003) Media Society: Industries, Images and Audiences (third edition), Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks.
  • Flew, Terry and Humphreys, Sal (2005) “Games: Technology, Industry, Culture” in Terry Flew, New Media: an Introduction (second edition), Oxford University Press: South Melbourne.
  • Holmes (2005) “Telecommunity” in Communication Theory: Media, Technology and Society, Cambridge: Polity.
  • Slevin, James: New Media & Society.

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New Media and Old Media. (2021, Sep 15). Retrieved February 6, 2023, from