Wednesday, 11 July 2012




PREAMBLE: Permit me to express my gratitude to the organizers of this inauguration ceremony for finding me worthy to deliver a paper on this ‘auspicious occasion’

The term New Media is not purely transparent and simple as it seems. The ‘New Media’ have created a new Social environment, new Communicational, and cognitive habits, and certainly a new way to comprehend and analyze the relationship between mass media, and society, which in essence has changed the trend of governance in the 21st century.

Building on Mclluhan’s idea of a newly shaped social environment, George Grant’s text illustrates the neutral values of technology, whose applications could only be determined by the paradigm of knowledge that composes the technological apparatuses on one hand, and the users on the other.

However, in the last few years, governance the World over has witnessed fundamental changes with the emergence of New Media technologies.

Today, Government, employees, students and companies have embraced the use of New Media Technologies such as, Facebook, Twitter, Google, You-tube, Badoo, 2go, Black Berry Messenger. etc., to their own advantages daily to disseminate information and receive immediate and unhampered feed backs, which make the New Media Unique and distinct from the old and conventional media- Radio,TV, Book, Magazine, Newspapers etc.


Let me begin by appreciating the concept “new media”- as the name suggests.

New Media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century that refers to on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feed-back, creative participation and community formation around the media content. Another important promise of new media is the “democratization” of the creation, publishing, distribution and consumption of media content. Another aspect of new media is the real-time generation of new, unregulated content. {Wikipedia}

Most technologies described as “New Media” are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible, and  interactive. Some examples may be the internet, websites, computer multimedia, video games, CD-ROMS, and DVDs. New Media does not include television programs, features films, magazines, books, or paper-based publications unless they contain technologies that enable digital interactivity. Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is an example, combining internet accessible digital text, images and video with web-links, creative participation of contributors, interactive feedback of users and formation of a participant community of editors and donors for the benefit of non-community readers. Facebook is an example of the social media model, in which most users are also participants.


Until the 1980s media relied primarily upon print and analog broadcast models, such as those of television and radio. The last twenty-five years have seen the rapid transformation into media which are predicated upon the use of digital technologies, such as the internet and video games. However, these examples are only a small representation of new media. The use of digital computers has transformed the remaining ‘old’ media, as suggested by the advent of digital television and online publications. Even traditional media forms such as the printing press have been transformed through the application of technologies such as image manipulated software like Adobe Photoshop and desktop publishing tools.

Shapiro (1999) argues that the “ emergence of new, digital technologies signals a  potential radical shift of who is in control of information, experience and resources’’ (Shapiro cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003:322) Neuman (1991) suggests that whilst the “new media” have technical capabilities to pull in one direction, economic and social forces pull back in the opposite direction. According to Neuman, “ We are witnessing the evolution of a universal interconnected network of audio video, and electronic text communications that will blur the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication, “ Neuman cited in Croteau and Hoynes (2003:322). Neuman argues further that New Media will:
  • Alter the meaning of geographic distance
  • Allow for a huge increase in the volume of communication.
  • Provide the possibility of increasing the speed of communication.
  • Provide opportunities for interactive communication.
  • Allow forms of communication that were previously separate to overlap and interconnect.

Consequently it is true, that New Media, and particularly the Internet, provide the potential for a democratic postmodern public sphere, in which citizens can participate in well informed, non-hierarchical debate pertaining to their social structures. Contradicting these positive appraisals of the potential social impacts of new media are scholars such as Ed Herman and Robert McChesney who have suggested that the transition to new media has seen a handful of powerful transnational telecommunications corporations who achieve a level of global influence which was hitherto unimaginable.

Scholars, such as Lister et al. (2003) and Friedman (2005), have highlighted both the positive and negative potential and actual implications of New Media technologies, suggesting that some of the early work into new media studies was guilty of technological determinism – whereby the effect of media were determined by the technology themselves, rather than through tracing the complex social networks which governed the development, funding, implementation and future development of any technology.


The rise of New Media have increased communication between people the world over and the internet.

Flew (2002) stated that as a result of the evolution of new media technologies, globalization occurs. Globalization is generally stated as “more than expansion of activities beyond the boundaries of particular nation states”. Globalization shortens the distance between people all over the world by the electronic communication Carely (1992) in flew (2002) and Cairncross (1998) expresses this great development as the “death of distance”. New Media “radically breaks the connection between physical place and social place, making physical location much less significant for our social relationship” Croteau and Hoynes (2003:311)

However, the changes in the New Media environment create a series of tension in the concept of “Public Sphere”. “Public sphere” is defined as a process through which public communication becomes restructured and partly disembedded from national political and cultural institutions. This trend of the globalized public sphere is not only as a geographical expansion from a nation to worldwide, but also changes the relationship between the public, the media and the state. Volkmer (1999:123).

“Virtual communities’’ are being established online and transcend geographical boundaries eliminating social restriction. Rheingold (2000) described these globalised societies as self-defined networks, which resemble what we do in real life. “People  in virtual communities use words on screen to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, create little high art and a lot of idle talk”.

While this perspective suggests of globalization, arguments involving technological determinism are generally frowned upon by mainstream media studies. Instead academics focus on the multiplicity of processes by which technology is funded, researched and produced, forming a feedback loop when the technologies are used and often transformed by their users, which then feeds into the process of guiding their future development.


Good Governance means essentially, the ability to provide the needed infrastructure capable of driving a particular economy.
For any Government to be successful, the governed must have a sense of belonging in the polity. This in clear terms means the ability to participate in the affairs of the state.

To participate actively in the affairs of the state in any polity, the most essential tool to use is the New Media Technology. Mclluhan in his thesis posited that with New Media Technology, the World is now a global village. But suffice it to say that the global village phenomenon has given rise to what we call the “global Family” phenomenon as the Internet has made the World smaller now than Mclluhan ever imagined
For the Government of Bayelsa State to be rated amongst the World best leading states, adaptation to the dictates of the new media technology will be apt.

In this regard, the postulation of Manovich and Castellers (2001) in which they argued that mass media corresponded to the logic of industrial mass society, which values conformity over individuality. New Media follows the logic of the Post-Industrial or globalized society whereby “every citizen can construct his or her own custom lifestyle and select his or her own ideology from a large number of choices.

For the Government of Bayelsa State to thrive, the establishment of an enabling technology driven environment with free access by all and sundry will be a panacea for effective governance.
It is obvious from my observation that the technology is society and society cannot be understood without its technological tools, Castell (1996).

While the distinction between public and private life is not unique to modern societies, Thompson (2011) argues that the emergence of the New Media Communication, from print to Radio, Television and Internet has altered the very nature of the public, the private and relation between them.

The boundaries of private life and public have been blurred as New Media have adopted an increasingly more publicized domain. Society seems to have also adapted to this public change and are more willing than ever to publish personal information on the Internet.

For instance, when stories break it is customary for reporters to do all they can to discover as much as possible about the people involved. The willingness of people to so much material about themselves on the net has made that task much easier for Journalists.

It is the correlation between people’s willingness to broadcast and the publicized domain available that has blurred the lines between private and public life in New Media.
Governments the World over, today, use the new media technology to advance its course. The advantage of the new media over the conventional media is very broad.
The conventional media such as Radio, Television, Newspaper, Magazine etc. adapt themselves to a one-way communication model. For instance, interpersonal media is “One on one”, Mass Media is “One to many” and New Media is individual media or “Many to Many”.

To actually interface effectively, the New Media is the most appropriate to achieve that purpose. The Facebook, Twitter, you-Tube, 2go, Badoo, Black Berry Messenger are all new media technology that must be harnessed for effective results in governance, as feedbacks are immediate without hindrances.
Statistics has it that over 7 million Nigerians Worldwide are on facebook, 2 million Internet users, and 100 million active mobile phone line users, which has actually made the sharing of information very easy, which is essential to the development of any state.
The decision of the Bayelsa State Government to take advantage of these new media technologies, is indeed a very welcomed development which is worth commending and worthy of emulation by other state governments.
No other media can provide a robust interactive platform, except the “New Media Technology” which will effectively promote good governance and active participation for all and sundry irrespective of social statuses. It is true, that everywhere in the world, citizens participate actively in governance through the new media.
This very medium allows for freedom of expression of opinion irrespective of political, religious, ethnic or social statuses.
The 2011 general elections were test cases to the effectiveness of the social media which gave on the spot assessments of the electoral situation without much-ado.
The New Media Technology therefore, must be embraced with both arms.
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[1] Ibituru I.Pepple is the Coordinator of the International Institute of Journalism, Port Harcourt Centre. He is a Fellow of many Professional bodies at home and abroad.

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