Media Students Embrace digital culture

On Wednesday 8 April, I escorted Ben to Makerere University Faculty of ICT. During our discussions with the deputy dean, we were introduced to the communications manager. After explaining our fields of study, I was requested to make a presentation to the final year class of mass communications on the subject of the new Media. I could not let such an opportunity go by, so I immediately accepted.

We made an appointment for the following Tuesday, but it was later postponed to this week. I was indeed excited to be back to the institution I left 25 years ago. My first impression of the students was their appearance. One could mistake them for secondary school students on a day out. They were so young and seemed so vulnerable.

I was escorted to the class by the head of department, Mass Communications, Ms Marjorie Kyomuhendo. I had prepared around 20 power point slides for my presentation. The projector was connect, but alas! It could not connect to my laptop. The projector did not have a USB jack!

I immediately took control and asked the students to make a sort of circle so that we could like seeing each other. After the introductions, I told them we were very lucky because the projector didn’t work. We therefore had to improvise. I assured them this was not a lecture but a session for sharing experiences. I explained that our session would have 4 phases: the first is by them telling me what they were studying; the next was I to tell them about New Media, the third how to connect the two and last discussion points.

The discussion was interactive. I made sure everyone had something to say, however silly. And before long the ice had broken and we were all laughing. They contributed information over media and their course. I asked leading questions to enable them understand the media better.

I took them through the history of both the media and mass media, while allowing them to add their own dimensions. I used the knowledge I acquired from Aaron Barlow’s book “The rise of Blogosphere” to build a case for the metamorphosis of the media industry culminating in what is called the New Media.

I brought up examples of media theorists from Vannever Bush, Marshall McLuhan, Bolter and Grusen, Foucault, Deleuze and others. I also provide a few examples of their theories like the memex; the medium is the message, remediation, discipline societies and rhizome respectively.

Finally we came to the New Media proper and tried to define it. Everyone by now was very active and from the students all sorts of New Media examples were elicited. The mobile phone, radio, Internet, blogging, digital camera, digital television, etc where mentioned. It was quite interesting when the students made the connection themselves between the New Media and Public relations, which is their specialty.

Lastly, the students discussed the best New Media tools that enable a PR person to do a better job. And these were: FM radio, mobile phone and Internet in that order.


One response to “Media Students Embrace digital culture

  1. Hello,

    Great that you are sharing your research process and primary findings to the whole world through this blog. It is good journalists and media houses are using the new media to improve their work and output.

    I’m wondering whether your research will analyse and be able to tell us whether the current new media use in Uganda is optimising all the available new media and really helping deliver better products…

    For example are media houses deliberatery teaching their reporters to use search engines to research and validate facts, encouraging on spot reporting through phone call-in studio, video and field emailing…I want to know whether the research will present what is being utilised and also the potential (including those not being that our journalists and media houses can really take full advantage of the new media.

    I work for a company that basically depends on new media to earn a living, especially the news agency section. We supply daily news to media houses through (email). We have to collect news from our correspondents faster and more efficiently through email, sms, phone calls. We try to sell our stories to as many people in Uganda and internationally e.g, which is where our focus on news media for increased opportunity comes in.

    We need to be able to collect news and information from all parts, get it for editing, distribute it to clients at the lowest costs and reliability (since we have to earn from it) and be able to earn maximally from it. We are considering uploading stories to earn on page views while we alos continue doing stories for those media houses who need them. Many of our clients earn a lot from page views (by the way did you find out whether new vision and monitor and other local newspapers are taking advantage of this earning avenue?) We therefore would like to understand the full range of new media opportunitis available locally and internationally that our staff and member practitioners can take advantage of.

    As a researcher in the ICT sector, i’m also interested in understanding the impact of the ICTs on new media on the individual people and organisations (my concern is there is always a focus on the technologies and not the changes it brings in the lives of people using or supposed to benefit from the technology). For example how many journalists are writing more and better stories because of email /internet search? How many are being paid better because their media houses have gone digital? has going digital rerally improved or compromised quality of content? Has it led to better earnings? Are radios for example really reaching people, which people and with what messages? WHen you have time or oportunity to discuss or research more on such issues, i’m more than interested to partner.

    many thanks.

    Gerald Businge

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