Eggins hails hi-tech effect

Letters, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE digital age is impacting news and information people are receiving from around the world, University of Goroka and Komuniti Tok Piksa (KTP) representative Joys Eggins said.
“With access to internet connectivity, news media organisations like Al Jazeerah are able to reach wider audiences with a different perspective on issues compared to America’s CNN or the British Broadcasting Corporation of the United Kingdom.
“This is viewed as a cri­tical shift in media influence as less dominant news media organisations and individuals are taking advantage of the World Wide Web,” she said.
Spotlighting this issue, academics and practitioners, including media educators and journalists from Asia, Africa and the Pacific, have gathered for the 20th Asia Media Information and Communication annual conference in Hyderabad, India, to exchange research and experiences on new media.
University of Goroka and KTP representative to the conference, Eggins said while the divide between the connected and disconnected in PNG “is still wide, technological devices such as mobile phones have set the pace for access in remote areas”.
“People’s ability to access varied news media is inevitable in PNG.”
News and information have been substantially the role of mainstream media in the country, but research done by KTP at UoG shows an increased use of telecommunications in rural communities,” Eggins said.
“I have no doubt this will eventually lead to demand for new media.
“I hear young people in rural communities talk about watching movies downloaded off the net so the technology is being demystified,” she said.
Eggins said such a global discussion “is important to PNG and the Pacific as it brings to our attention the effects of the new media, especially for countries whose media relies heavily on foreign sources for news, interpretation of issues and forming of opinions”.
World Bank Institute representative Eric Chinje said digital technology was empowering media and “we are seeing a multi-cultural world” because of it, but he warned that dangers existed.
Chinje said programmes such as Photoshop could be used to manipulate images.
He gave some examples of how prominent news organisations were fooled into running stories that turned out to be untrue.
“These threats are serious in the new media and while it serves as an excellent medium for convergence, individuals have to remain critical about its content, including the medium itself.”
The AIMC conference ends today.