The best examples of new media include:
- Social Media Platforms
- Video Sharing Platforms
- Online Newspapers
- Online Forums
- Virtual Reality
What are New Media?
New media are digital interactive media.
Let’s break that down a little more.
The term ‘new media’ is used to describe all media that:
- involve two-way communication,
- allow consumers to become producers, and
- involve the digitization of communication.
From this definition, you can see that new media are not just digital media. They’re more than that – they’re also interactive. New media are digital media that perform certain functions: they break down the old gatekeeper rules and allow us to communicate to each other in our own new ways.
Here’s a scholarly definition from Logan (2010, p. 4):
The term “new media” will in general refer to those digital media that are interactive, incorporate two-way communication, and involve some form of computing as opposed to “old media” such as telephone, radio, and TV.
We generally think about new media as those media that emerged at the dawn of the internet. The internet led to a revolution in the way media were produced, distributed and consumed. This revolution took place in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the emergence of blogs, podcasts, and video sharing platforms.
Examples of New Media
When the internet came about, businesses one after the other started going online to communicate directly with potential consumers. Business owners no longer needed Yellow Pages or ad placements to get exposure. They could communicate direct co consumer. And people could post comments and ask questions directly on the site!
Blogs came thick and fast after Websites. Blogs are personal websites where people can write about their lives and thoughts on various topics. Now, anyone can create a global audience for their writing. Many blogs such as “mommy blogs” and “travel blogs” went viral over the years, getting huge numbers of followers.
What did we do before email! Walk to the post office, drop the letter in the box, and wait 2 weeks for a reply? Email digitized information sharing in the late 1990s, allowing written communication between people and businesses to happen faster than ever before.
4. Social Media Platforms
Social media include platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and (do you remember it?) MySpace. Thanks to social media we can share our lives and thoughts with our friends and family, while also keeping in touch with people from our past.
5. Video Sharing Platforms
The largest video sharing platform is of course YouTube. This platform allows people to post their own videos and like, share and comment on others’ videos. YouTubers can create fan bases and become online personalities without the need to get a job with a broadcasting company.
6. Online Newspapers
Online newspapers are a development upon traditional newspapers, but by no means the same thing! Online newspapers can be updated when new information comes to light, and people can comment on the articles to give instant feedback to the newspaper companies.
7. Online Forums
Common online forums include Quora and Reddit. These are spaces where people seeking answers can post their questions. Then, once the questions are posted, anyone else on the forum can respond with their thoughts and contributions. With these new media, people are using ‘hive minds’
Wikis are online databases where anyone can contribute information to fill-out the databases. The most famous one is of course Wikipedia, but it is by no means the only one! These databases are updated regularly and use the hive mind of the internet to build the largest knowledge banks in the world.
9. Virtual Reality
VR are usually goggles that you place on your head to bring you into a virtual world. When you move your head, you can look around the virtual world. Sometimes you also can put on gloves to ‘touch’ the world around you as well. So why are these new media? Because it’s your input into the media that directs how it works … and, of course, it’s digitized.
10. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is similar to VR, but serves a very different purpose. AR involves making your experience of actual reality better by giving you additional data points. For example, you can put on goggles that tell you how fast you’re running or how far you’ve run in the top corner.
Podcasts are one of the quintessential new media. Born in 2005, podcasting is radio for the digital age. People record their podcasts (stories, discussions, interviews, etc.) and post them online for people to download and stream at will. Here again, you can see new media are all about providing people with new ways to produce and distribute knowledge. Central to these media is RSS feed technology, which pushes new podcast episodes to subscribers’ devices at will.
Vlogs are like blog, but videos! People record their own personal updates on their lives, travels or thoughts and post them onto online video sharing platforms for people to watch. Vloggers use a range of platforms like YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook Stories.
Webinars allow people to teach online. You can share slides, present information, and invite people to speak and ask questions all via the internet. The ‘newness’ of this media is in the ability to communicate, produce and consume seminar-style lessons via digital means.
What is Traditional Media?
Traditional media is all media that came before computer technologies.
These old media were generally controlled by powerful gatekeepers like television companies, governments and editorial boards.
The gatekeepers in these organizations controlled what could and could not be said. With the emergence of new media, the power of traditional media to control knowledge has been diminished.
Examples of Traditional Media
- Mail (snail mail)
- Cold calling
Conclusion – How is New Media Affecting Us?
New media have changed the ways we communicate. We have access to more information than ever from more sources than ever. While in the past, our access to knowledge was regulated by editorial decisions of large companies, now anyone can share anything (true or not!) on new media. We have become ‘prosumers‘ of knowledge!
The next question is: what does this mean for society? There are pros and cons of new media. While some might argue it’s allowed us to find our voice and become our best selves, others might say new media have created the extreme media bias, have too much influence on youth, and have divided political tribes of today’s society!
 Logan, R. (2010). Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan. New York: Peter Lang.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]