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Definition of Digital Media

Digital media is digitized content that can be transmitted over the internet or computer networks. This can include text, audio, video, and graphics.  This means that news from a TV network, newspaper, magazine, etc. that is presented on a Web site or blog can fall into this category. Most digital media are based on translating analog data into digital data. The Internet began to grow when text was put onto the Internet instead of stored on papers as it was previously. Soon after text was put onto computers images followed, then came audio and video onto the Internet. Digital media has come a long way in the few short years to become as we know it today and it continues to grow.

The Birth of Digital Media

In earlier times, messages were once distributed by one particular source to their audience. The audience gathered their sources through a certain form of distribution, whether it was newspapers, magazines, radio, or television. Publishers had a great source of power over the information distributed and how it was perceived by the public. However, all that began drastically change with the rise of computers and more importantly the Internet.

Internet and Computers in Digital Media

Calculation and programming served as the main purposes for earlier computers. However, over time computers began to play a more personal role in humans’ lives. No longer were computers being associated with governments or large corporations. As technology grew, people found out that storing information on a computer was convenient and provided good structure. People expanded the functions a computer could provide to its owner.  People began to use computers for communication, creative purposes, research, and entertainment.

The Internet is a vast global system that links computer networks. People began taking to the Internet for government, commercial, educational, social, etc. purposes giving rise to digital media. By being able to connect with this growing amount of information, people were able to hear from multiple sources and to make it more personal by posting their own views’. Now publishing and blogging has become so easy that millions of people are able to post onto the internet creating a large amount of websites and information. As new people join the Internet, the amount of information viewed and provided expands.

How Digital Media Affected News Media

During World War II, Massachusetts Institute of Technology began a project to develop a computer known as the Whirlwind. The Whirlwind was the first computer that operated in real time and used a monitor for visual purposes. Operating in real-time is a huge advantage that the Internet provided for digital news.


Newspapers are unable to compete with the speed that digital news releases their stories. Not only can the latest updates immediately be found online, but you can also view various articles to gain a better understanding and survey multiple points of view. This staggered the hold newspapers had over their communities and began to disrupt their monopoly. More sources for news sprouted up. Some question the reliability of sources on the Internet. A lot more personal opinions, amateur journalism, and biased articles can be found on the Internet. Blogs are an attractive form of digital media. They truly helped push consumer generated content throughout the Internet. Not only has the Internet allowed consumers to contribute to the news, they are also allowing them to personalize their news experience. A costumer does not have to buy a whole newspaper to read the select number of articles that interest them. Now they can go online and skip the other articles and skip the payment. Although newspapers have adapted to the rise of digital media by placing themselves online, being on the Internet does not guarantee the companies to make money back on lost business. According to the State of the News Media report, 75% of people are not willing to pay for online news content. They are more likely to go back to searching for free results. The report also states that 23% of people said that they would pay five dollars a month for unrestricted access to a local newspaper online. However, doubling the price a month drops the number by 5%.


Mobile Devices and Digital Media

Internet use via mobile devices has made a large impact, especially over the most recent years. Mobile devices have played a large role in the digital media. A recent survey with Pew Internet and American Life Project states that 47% of Americans get a form of news from their mobile device. These usually include immediate search needs on the weather, addresses, traffic, etc. More people are also using their cell phones to send them updates from the Internet. Therefore, more people are using their cell phones for more than their original intended purposes. This has further broadened the ever growing field of digital technology. The numbers of people using mobile devices is doubling by the months.

How Digital Media Affected the Entertainment Industry

Young adults are familiar with the rise of Napster in the late 1990’s and how it affected the music industry and changed it forever. Music was, and still is, obtainable for free over the internet. The music industry has learned to benefit from the Internet and digital media, however it took some readjusting. Now sites can charge customers on sites like Napster so they can legally obtain the music they desire. Since digital media, it seems that i-tunes and downloading music has become more popular than purchasing CDs. Some up and coming bands attempt to use digital media to their benefit and realize that their material can be accessed by the world. They use the Internet as a tool in hopes of gaining a fan base.

The same goes for the movie industry. The movie industry has learned to cope with pirating by forming online accounts where people can purchase or rent movies instead of illegally downloading them. However, this does not mean that the movie industry has made the transition easily. The MPAA is battling against piracy constantly. The recent Writer’s Strike was partially inspired by digital media. Writers demanded more compensation for Internet downloads, streaming, straight-to-Internet content, smart phones, and other on-demand online distribution methods. Despite all the battling that is going on, the movie industry still realizes the dawning of a new era.

The television industry has changed very similar to the movie industry. With devices like TiVo, television viewers can now fast forward through commercials. Television shows are being watched over the internet and various clips posted to sites.

The rise of digital media has also allowed people to communicate with others all over the world. Digital media has increased globalization by making communication with people from other parts of the world very easy. Video games can be played over the Internet with people from all over the world. For example, an online video game like World of Warcraft has over 10 million players. Some of the people that play WOW are from across the globe.

Books began appearing on the Internet for free. Writer’s now have the option of placing their books online to be purchased or read through e-books. E-books are an electronic version of a printed book. Although the device to read the print may cost a lot more than the book itself, ordering more electric texts can be cheaper. It can be a lot more convenient than buying or borrowing a book. E-books also have the ability to translate text to other languages that the book is not published in.

Digital media has changed the flow of the entertainment industry permanently. With the rise of digital media, more and more people in the entertainment industry realize the importance of the Internet. Websites are made to advertise the show. A website may contain celebrity biographies, photo galleries, blogs, etc. The businesses refer to these sites also to monitor the feedback.

The Future of Digital Media

Last year the State of the News Media report predicted that 1,500 newsroom jobs would be lost at the end of the year making them 30% smaller than they were in the year 2000. This shows that digital media in the news continues to grow. Although traditional news media will most likely never be fully extinguished they will need to further adapt to the times. In order to make money, they will need to work with search engines to fight against news sites provided for free and rely more on advertising. Digital media has eliminated many cultural boundaries and will continue to do so as other less developed countries begin to become more reliant on technology. Digital media has provided instant communication between people all over the world. Different forms of digital media make this interaction easy and fun. Technology and the sharing of photographs on the Internet have found ways past language barriers. Thanks to digital media we are now entering a world that is culturally globalized.

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