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The New Media Revolution

There is a new media revolution under way. You may not notice it if you are still getting the bulk of your information from Richard or Judy or Carol and John - or even the daily newspapers. John Howard reports.

Millions around the world are turning to the "new media" but what is the new media?

It's hard to put your finger on it. But certainly the central component is the Internet.

Recently, I gave a talk to a group of business people and I was asked the question; - Do you consider the new media you speak of the musket of the 21st century?

No, I see it more like the well-placed Stinger missile.

It wasn't so long ago we were forced to rely heavily on the Associated Press, a handful of supplemental newswire services, a daily newspaper and perhaps radio and television news.

Today, sitting with a laptop hooked to a phone line anywhere in the world, we can access 100, perhaps a 1,000, times as much news and information as we had at our disposal only 10 years ago.

A recent interesting development is the synergy between the Internet and Talk Back radio. For instance, I heard Scoop news stories mentioned twice on talk back radio earlier this week.

If you boiled down the new media to its absolute essence, this is it.

Talk Back radio's power is exponentially increased by the news and information on the Internet. And the Internet's reach and influence is greatly expanded by the power of talk back radio.

This combination may be the most positive and exciting development of the 21st century.

The "establishment media" may be in some trouble because there is real competition once again. Certainly, I have never seen The Press newspaper out of Christchurch advertising on television before. It does now.

The Internet is a real-time, high impact alternative to other forms of news reporting and because of this we all have an incredible opportunity to really change things, although I wouldn't say it's time to roll up the newsprint and shut down the printing presses just yet - perhaps in five years.

Big Advertiser's, also, are finally starting to realise the impact of the Internet. So much so, that in America it is now possible to obtain a free computer and free Internet access providing you sign up for the delivery of ad's and other marketing messages to you which are tailored to your interests and needs.

Like in all things - let the "buyer" beware.

This leads me to government's Five Steps Towards a Brighter Future programme.

I don't know of any "free computer" offer in New Zealand but my wife and I, who don't have children, would have no objection whatsoever to government providing a free computer with Internet access to every home in New Zealand so that our kids could have a head-start in the knowledge economy.

Any family tax break government may provide could be p......d up against the wall by an uncaring parent, but a free computer - that's a tangible object which could have some real meaning to childhood devlopment where it matters most - in the home.

A flakey idea? - Maybe, but economy of scale and the new technology on the horizon could make it pretty cost effective.

In fact, there is a big worry overseas that many of the poor are missing out on the knowledge economy because they simply can't afford to buy a home PC for their kids.

The New Media revolution and knowledge economy has begun - but let's make sure all New Zealander's are at the top of the heap.

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