By: Okethcwinyu Harrison
The Digital Revolution, known as the Third Industrial Revolution, is the change from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics which began anywhere from the late 1950s to the late 1970s with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record keeping that continues to the present day. Implicitly, the term also refers to the sweeping changes brought about by digital computing and communication technology. The Digital Revolution marked the beginning of the Information Age.
- The Digital Revolution has improved research and sourcing. With the coming in of great search engines like bling, yahoo and Google among others, digital revolution has made available a great deal of resources and information that is used by journalists. For example, when doing health and fitness story, journalists can just Google it out and get all the information he needs. When looking for statistics for example about number of boda-boda cyclists in Uganda, one can just find it online instead of running around, going to the KCCA office to find out the figures. This explains why it is easy to get information on critical things that would’ve been hard to find had it not been for the digital revolution. This has also widened coverage to cover international news like sports that can be found on YouTube and DSTV satellite technologies.
- The Digital Revolution has also enabled two way information in the form of enabling feedback. With the Digital Revolution, it is no longer a one way form of communication say from radio to recipient but has become a two-way communication system from say, radio to listener and listener. Before the digital revolution, forms of communication were letters, donkeys, doves, radio, and analogue television among others which could never enable timely response. These days, listeners, viewers and readers use Facebook, tweeter, whatsup, email and other forms to give information to media houses. These feedback help in conducting opinion polls, feeding media houses with information and informing media houses on where to improve. This has also enabled journalists to follow the fairness principle where they give each voice to each side in a story. This is more possible with the digital revolution where media houses call sources for their views.
- The Digital Revolution has also increased and eased distribution and coverage. In the past before the digital revolution, before the internet, computers and satellite, media coverage was confined to nearby areas to the media house. With the digital revolution, there has come globalization. Local events are shaped by things happening on another planet. Media houses own stations and publications that are read and received across the world. This in one way has increased the amount of papers in circulation for publications hence higher and increased sales. Local and international media also get big advertisers both which contribute to their finances and are able to survive. For newspapers, the digital revolution has increased readership while for television, their viewership has also increased. Even for radio, digital revolution has brought about live streaming and podcasts. Also, journalists are now entitled to international recognition and awards hence a great motivation for them.
- The Digital Revolution has also enabled citizen journalism. Before the digital revolution, there mostly existed radio, television and publications. Starting up these ventures requires huge amounts of capital that a single individual can hardly accumulate yet every individual has information or news to share. With the digital revolution social media like Facebook, whatsup and twitter are available at users’ disposal and are easy to use. With them individuals can break news, share important information and give tips. This has helped to provide content for media houses and made them never run out of content. This has also helped the media to get accurate information when affected people retort through social media to clarify things. An example is Stella Nyanzi who gives the media news and clarifies things through social media. The same applies to Dr. Kizza Besigye. Another example is the NTV Go app that enables viewers to publish their own news and get it at times shown on tv.
- The Digital Revolution has also brought about powerful computers and provided exponentially increasing storage platforms. These include computers, flash disks, external hard disks, phone memory, memory cards, among others. This has provided archives for the media. It is important for the media to store their content for quite some time. There is even a provision in the laws of Uganda that requires media houses to for example radio and television to keep their recordings and for publications to also keep their papers. Without the digital revolution, this wouldn’t be possible. These computers and storage devices have also provided the ability to access, modify, store and share digital media in the hands of billions of people and the media. This has improved journalism in that media can refer back to. An example is NTV that use their archive files to add explanations to their current events and breaking news story. This helps to add background information to a current event or happening.
The writer is a final year student of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University.