People obtain information, education, news and other data from electronic and print media. Social media is distinct from industrial or traditional media, such as newspapers, television, and film as they are comparatively inexpensive and accessible to enable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information. Industrial media generally require significant resources to publish information as in most cases the articles goes through many revisions before being published.
One characteristic shared by both social and industrial media is the capability to reach small or large audiences; for example, either a blog post or a television show may reach no people or millions of people. Some of the properties that help describe the differences between social and industrial media are:
Quality – In industrial(traditional) publishing—mediated by a publisher—the typical range of quality is substantially narrower than in niche, unmediated markets. The main challenge posed by content in social media sites is the fact that the distribution of quality has high variance: from very high-quality items to low-quality, sometimes abusive content.
- Reach – both industrial and social media technologies provide scale and are capable of reaching a global audience. Industrial media, however, typically use a centralized framework for organization, production, and dissemination, whereas social media are by their very nature more decentralized, less hierarchical, and distinguished by multiple points of production and utility.
- Frequency – the number of time an advertisement is display on social media platforms.
- Accessibility – the means of production for industrial media are typically government and/or corporate (privately-owned); social media tools are generally available to the public at little or no cost
- Usability – industrial media production typically requires specialized skills and training. Conversely, most social media production requires only modest reinterpretation of existing skills; in theory, anyone with access can operate the means of social media production
- Immediacy – the time lag between communications produced by industrial media can be long (days, weeks, or even months) compared to social media (which can be capable of virtually instantaneous responses)
- Permanence – industrial media, once created, cannot be altered (once a magazine article is printed and distributed changes cannot be made to that same article) whereas social media can be altered almost instantaneously by comments or editing
Community media constitute a hybrid of industrial and social media. Though community-owned, some community radio, TV and newspapers are run by professionals and some by amateurs. They use both social and industrial media frameworks.
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