“Thank you, old media.” “No. TY, new media.”
Qualman’s first chapter brought on this little post.
Oh, yes. Old media vs. new media: the oft-discussed subject in the Technical Communication and MSTPC programs. Both have their pros and cons, and I think that at this point in time, each has its proper place. Since my son just celebrated his 9th birthday and we’ve been working on thank-you notes, I’ll go with this comparison:
Old media is to handwritten thank-you notes
New media is to sending thank-you e-mails.
Handwritten thank-you notes are a must for grandparents and other respected individuals. This thank-you media requires more thought, effort, and even comes at a higher monetary cost (stationery, stamps, smiley-face stickers, etc.) We are likely to send them out with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation. Errors or missing details can’t be added once the thank-you is sent without going through the entire process again.
E-mail thank-yous, however, will suffice for close friends and other situations in which informality is acceptable. We may let punctuation and spelling slide, and e-mail is a free service, so it costs us nothing. An e-mail can come across as more of an afterthought, with generally less time and effort put into it. We could turn around and send an additional e-mail correcting errors or adding things we forgot in minutes. There is a more fleeting feeling to them, and recipients are not very likely to keep them once they are read.
Likewise, old media creates more of a record, whereas new media seems fleeting and fickle. I think of watching a story develop over the course of a day, and watching the headlines change on CNN.com. We can get very different information, depending on at what point of the day we check the website, and we understand it’s best to wait until everything is sorted out before taking the online news reports as complete and accurate. Old media (newspapers in particular) gather the information once per day, so there is really only one opportunity per day for erroneous stories. While the possibility of misinformation still certainly exists, it is not nearly as rampant, and it is not acceptable when misinformation appears in hardcopy print because we expect these outlets to verify their sources and information. They, themselves, are often considered to be more respectable organizations because their reports are more reliable.
For similar reasons, I think we are more likely to keep, for example, a newspaper clipping of our graduation announcement rather than printing out the online version of the article. We might see the article online first, but we would be prompted to go out and buy that day’s hardcopy newspaper for scrapbooking or archiving. It is my opinion that we have a lot more trust in old media than new, but we are drawn to new media because of our love of instant gratification. Humans are a pretty impatient species, and new media can give us what we want instantly. There’s a saying at my place of employment: Do you want it done now, or do you want it done right? New media does it now, but old media is more likely to do it right.