Media studies classes explain that the developed world is rapidly on its way to putting all media online. Newspapers are usually pointed out as the first likely casualty of this supposed trend, followed rapidly with a warning that the rest of media will follow. But it seems unlikely that this will happen as soon as people are predicting.
Even though the Internet is considerably
more prominent today than it was 10 years ago, not everybody can afford it. But most people can afford the 50 cents it costs to buy a newspaper, or if not, they can just grab a free daily like the “Metro.”
Many people also cannot afford Blackberrys or PalmPilots, which would allow them to read their online newspaper while they ride the train to work.
This same policy applies to books – nobody is going to whip out his or her laptop and begin reading a downloaded book while riding the Broad Street subway to work. It’s still more practical to whip out a dog-eared paperback and hold it in one hand while gripping the subway pole with the other.
It’s one thing to read text-heavy platforms
like books or newspaper articles online,
but magazines are more complicated. They’re visually dependent and focused primarily on design and placement. Web site creators can put well-designed pages online, often with interactive extras, but the creative work that goes into designing a magazine is an art form. Replicating plain text online isn’t the same as trying to recreate a page of photos, graphics and text.
“You can’t just sort of take one chunk of content, whether its magazines, movies, or TV, and move it to another platform,” said Thomas Petner, a Temple journalism professor and director of Temple’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab program, though he added that people currently are trying to accomplish this task.
The day that television will be broadcast
online rather than through cable is also far away. A fast Internet connection is required to be able to watch a program online.
Out of the four major networks, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, only one manages to have a successful system for playing videos.
Fox streams its shows to MySpace.com, which even lets viewers watch it on a standard-sized screen. However, the three other big networks have video players that randomly freeze, skip segments and sometimes don’t even start at the beginning. All of these players, Fox’s included, have poor video quality. At a time when televisions are getting bigger and changing to high definition, it seems contradictary to suggest that these same programs might end up on our computer screens.
Petner explained that the so-called shift of TV and movies to an online platform
is a reaction to paranoia about copyright
laws, it “scares movie companies and [TV] stations who are trying to move ahead so that they don’t miss the digital revolution.”
Only a handful of advertisers have jumped on the online-video bandwagon. Chase, Burger King, Hilton hotels, Match.com and movie trailers are a few of these. Until these online programs attract more advertisers, networks won’t consider switching their shows to an online-only format.
There are also some media that should never be put online because the experience wouldn’t be the same. When going to a movie theater it isn’t just about having a bucket of popcorn and soda while watching. It’s the giant screen, the surround sound, holding one’s bladder for an hour to avoid missing anything and being there opening night. This can’t be replicated on a computer screen, no matter how hard developers try.
There is no doubt that someday in the distant future most media will be online,
but it won’t be online in the way we think of it today. It’s going to take time and more work from Web developers and designers before the Internet is suitable for these platforms and made affordable to the entire public.
Ashley Helaudais can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.