New media technology is the application of digital (computer) technology to mass communication. They are thus synonymous with information and communication technologies (Wilson III, 1998). They include the use of satellite communication, global system of mobile communication (GSM), Internet and its facilities in form of email and the World Wide Web, as well as computer and the various component such as compact disc, flash drive etc.
With the idea of “information world”, it is believed that no meaningful development can take place without the application of the new media technologies to development process. The World Bank asserts that:
The information revolution offers Africa a dramatic opportunity to leap frog into the future, breaking out of decades of stagnation and decline. Africa must seize this opportunity quickly. If African countries cannot take the advantage of the information revolution and surf this great wave of technological change, they may be crushed by it. In that case, they are likely to be even more marginalized and economically stagnant in the future than they are today.
Development in Africa is then hinged on the adoption and the use of the new media technologies. The idea is that they will enable Africa to leapfrog into the future of buoyancy and progress in every dimension.
For a journalist to be able to bring development using new media technology he/she must learn about the media platforms used in their community.
Majority of the world’s population live in poverty, and the society is familiar with various forms of assistance to help the hungry and the homeless. But the field of journalism can offer a unique avenue to dignity and self sufficiency.
Journalists offer new approaches for reaching isolated and marginalized communities with exciting development initiatives. They can also help to alert the communities on any impending danger.
The enormous benefit derived from new media has and will continue to bring it to the fore in nearly every facet of life’s activities to improve various aspects of human life. Some of which are:
- Poverty alleviation through creation of a more skilled work force and building capacity through the use of ICTs in literary improvement, in mass information dissemination, in long distance education, and within formal educational systems.
- Stimulation of local economies, small/medium enterprises (SMEs) and employment opportunities through value added information.
- Improvement of quality of health care through the use of ICT-based diagnostic and health status monitoring instruments in hospitals and health centres.
- Provision of educational opportunities, particularly long distance education for people who would otherwise have been excluded by limited opportunities.
- Access to significant individuals from across the globe for research collaboration, thus leading to production of knowledge globally and spread of knowledge on an interpersonal scale.
- Creation of more dynamic family relations by breaking the barrier of distance and time, thus meeting the people’s social and psychological needs. The use of social networks like Facebook, My Space, Twitter etc. has been very successful in connecting people and improving social relations.
- Improving public administrations by making easier economic planning through faster intra- and inter agency communication and coordination.
- Enhancing participatory governance: (the idea of public sphere) by deploying ICTs to provide information channels (e.g. websites, radio or TV, phone in programmes) for governments, legislative houses, opinion leaders, and by using ICTs to facilitate timely access by citizens to government information, etc.
- Enhancing anti-corruption efforts by providing access to information on government earnings and expenditure, thus making government accountable for the nation’s expenses.
These, among others, are the benefits offered by the new media technologies.
In conclusion New media technology and information portals reached through telecommunication networks provide a modern way for people to access, on demand, a wide array of information including establishing direct contact with distant expert sources and government officials.
They will deliver the expected benefits with proper utilization and management for development purposes. And as such each journalist is advised to make use of this opportunity to foster development.