Art And Culture

Info-Tsunami of Social Networks Will Ebb

Info-Tsunami of Social Networks Will EbbInfo-Tsunami of Social Networks Will Ebb

The current tide of information via social networks will ultimately “drain away,” media expert Bijan Moqaddam predicts.

When a new phenomenon emerges in the market, people start to wonder if the older ones will survive. This is true with virtual media and their more traditional mediums.

“Generally speaking, social networks can either promote traditional media or indeed turn into the antithesis of media,” said Moqaddam, the managing director of Alef news website at the 22nd Press Exhibition (Nov 4-11), during a visit to the Mehr News Agency pavilion.

“What I’m referring to is the info-tsunami by social networks. In practice, the users will eventually tire of the information flooded on them by the social media.

The audiences are given a mass of information far beyond their needs. “Their swiping fingers, deleting messages one after another, are proof enough that they are glutted with information.”

For the time being, Iranian users of social networks have adopted a passive stance on the info-tsunami. They have presented themselves to the flood of ongoing information, but it can be said that their reception towards social media networks would come to a more balanced outlook in the near future. They will turn to information with more substance and analytical content.”

Moqaddam further said: “The flow in virtual space is like a tide. It has both flood and ebb. When the networks reach the ebb, it means that balance is being approached.” The flood will be short-lived.

What we are indeed witnessing is that social network users are getting bored with the flood of information, mostly irrelevant and even damaging and disturbing.

But of course, social networks do have “a serious influence on traditional media” such as newspapers as they will have to skip newsflashes (which become stale by the time they go to print) and stick to analyses of current events. Future print media will be analytical.”

When it was pointed out that in some countries like the US, news outlets, including The Christian Science Monitor, have discontinued their print editions, Moqaddam said: “It’s different in Iran. Unlike us, they manage to maintain their sales even when they go online. However, some newspapers at home have started to upload their contents on their websites as well. But the online publications don’t guarantee any revenue.”

 Newspapers Downsized

Ramin Mostaqim, a reporter working for Los Angeles Times who was at the exhibition, participated in a meeting ‘Role of Audience in Declining Newspapers – Methods used by Foreign Media to Save Audience’, according to the public relations office of the annual exhibition.

“The media are undergoing new experiences hardly imaginable 10 years ago,” Mostaqim said.

“Western dailies are experienced and well established. They don’t expect to be shut down or replaced when a new medium of information emerges; unlike in Iran where traditional methods are still in use and can undermine the print media.

An edition of a western newspaper is normally published in 24 parts of the world; while the Iranian media is copying one another. This won’t work, because there is no experience acquired, he said.

“There was no precedence of forecasting future news; but social networks are now doing it. The function of media is to reflect the present situation; but social networks predict and analyze future events. This had no precedence in history.”

Social networks have made one more difference of significance, Mostaqim noted. “They have provided a context where readers can add their comments at the foot of a news item. In the past, however, people had to make a phone call to express their opinions or send a letter to the editor by post, which is not a practical method anymore.”

Soon, because of social networks, “we’ll witness extensive change in the media world. At social networks, every individual can serve as a medium of news. LA Times’ downsizing its staff in 2008 is a manifestation of that change. In that year, only one person remained in its Tehran office, while the New York office with 30 staff members was reduced to three.”

Today, virtual space dictates the contents and types of news published by the media. But before this, the media was freer, without having to correct their mistakes. Recently, a number of controversial news was disseminated across the virtual space before the official media were forced to publish the corrections.

“Even as I speak, my words and the proceedings of other meetings are being spread via Twitter, Telegram and Instagram; while there is no such capacity in the print media.”

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