The title of this write-up is not intended to present both forms of Media as equals who are about to engage in a heavy weight boxing match to determine who will become the Champion of the World. Rather, it is a title driven by the need to shed more light on the growing significance of New Media and the waning influence of traditional media in Nigeria.
Traditional Media in laymans terms is basically radio, TV, print and outdoor billboards. These Traditional Media elements have driven the way to socialize, relax, learn and disseminate information over the past 100 years. Traditional Media can be known as the ‘old’ means by which we communicate and express ourselves via the medium available. Traditional Media has continued to remain relevant but the fast-rising dominance of the Internet and its continued growth and penetration has started to make it the preferred medium for communication and expression. Recent projections suggest that the growth pattern for internet penetration in Nigeria will continue to grow at unprecedented rates.
At the end of 2009, Nigeria had 23.9million internet users, which was a growth of about 450% from the previous year. Thus a percentage of 16% of the total population is either connected or has access to the internet. It is estimated that by the end of 2010, that number will increase twofold, and will hover at about 50% of the population.
With the internet, as the name suggests, comes a large space of inter-connected computers sharing information on the Web for users to access worldwide. The Internet is connected by an array of electronic and optical technologies which offer speed levels and an efficiency that is comparable, and in some cases superior to traditional media. Access to the internet can be enabled on any device that can surf the web, therefore it is not limited to computers only. Most notable amongst the devices that can access the web are mobile devices and phones. These are highly personal gadgets which are becoming aggregators of the channels of communication and expression. That is, we can perform predominately all our business communication and interact with friends and family from mobile devices. With the parallel growth of social networks, born out of the interconnectedness given birth to by the internet, we are now caught in a web where the need to stay in touch through a central channel has evolved with the continuous growth of social networks.
With Internet penetration growing in sub-Saharan Africa at a very quick rate, driven by a demand to access the capabilities of mobile devices and computers, we are in an age where the various forms of ‘old’ media will be accessed primarily from digital devices within the next 1-3 years. Therefore new media is an evolution of old media into mainstream 21st century technologies for more personalized and interconnected expression and communication. It is the amalgamation of traditional media such as film, images, music, spoken and written word, with the interactive power of computer and communications technology, computer-enabled consumer devices and most importantly the Internet. New media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device.