In the second half of the twentieth century with the advent and improvement of communication technology began a new era of media and communications. Such new technologies as cable and satellite TV and the Internet, which providing truly global coverage, have brought rapid and profound changes in the sphere of communications. Progress has led to the era of new media, which reduce the distances and time, and provide access to vast areas of information. The speed with which the new technologies are gaining a mass audience is unprecedented for the history of communication and information: for example, for American radio it took 38 years to reach 50 million people, television made the same path for 14 years, and the Internet – only 4 years.
Newspapers, radio, and television traditionally have been seen as objects of research of mass communication for social, economic and political reasons. But despite the fact that cable and satellite TV, video and computer networks have already been recognized as new independent means of mass communication, they have not yet found a worthy reflection in the writings of theorists, that is, not enough studied in the theory of communication. As technology changes, the scientific categories must become more flexible, because new communications technologies give researchers a good opportunity to revise the hypothesis and, perhaps, even require a new look at the concept of communication.
The study of new media
The means of mass communication, which are now called “new”, began to work in 1970. Initially they were perceived as new improved traditional types of media, but then they challenge the whole understanding of production and distribution of information in its traditional forms, and require new theoretical interpretation. The main features that distinguish the new media from old are:
– decentralization, when supply and choice is no longer determined solely by information providers,
– high bandwidth – transmission via cable and satellite allows to overcome the severe limitations of broadcasting;
– interactivity – the recipient can choose the information, to answer on it, exchange information with other recipients,
– flexibility of its forms, content and use. (Flew 2002)
One of the main signs of the end of the XX century is accelerating of the transformation of technologies into new communications systems. For example, the newspaper became an important mean of communication since three centuries after the invention of the printing press; then from the discovery of Hertz to the regular radio broadcast in the U.S. passed only thirty-three years (from 1888 to 1921). Similarly, the microchip, the most important component of modern small but powerful computers, was made in 1971, and the mass marketing of personal computers began four years later. (Flew 2002)