Impact of the Internet and E-mail in Journalism

History of Internet:

In 1969, the Department of Defence of the United States of America set up a network called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). The network connected one computer in California with three in Utah.

Later, the Department of Defence allowed universities to join the network for sharing the hardware and software resources. In this way, it grew bigger and finally gave birth to the present day popular Internet.

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Advantages:

Main advantages of the Internet are:

1. Internet allows people on one computer to send messages to people on another computer.

2. This network stores files that people might want to access.

3. It allows people on one computer to connect to a remote computer; they can then work with data on the remote computer.

Requirements for connection to the Internet:

(a) A computer

(b) An account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

(c) A modem

(d) A telephone line

(e) Suitable software

The computer should be an IBM Pentium PC or a compatible on with Windows 95/98 operating system.

Internet Service Provider:

A connection to the Internet is provided by an Internet Service Provider. The connection is provided to users for a fee.

ISPs use a server which is a computer with high storage capacity and memory. It is connected to other servers installed at different places in the world through satellites. ISPs also allow users to store mail on their servers. Some of the ISPs in India are:

(a) Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL)

(b) Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL)

(c) Net Kracker

(d) Satyam Online

(e) Mantra Online

Modem:

A modem is a computer peripheral that allows us to connect to and communicate to other computers via telephone lines. The modem serves as a medium to exchange information between a computer and the Internet.

Two types of modems are available:

1. Internal modem:

An internal modem is fixed into an expansion slot inside the computer.

2. External modem:

It is placed outside the computer. An internal modem is less expensive than an external modem. We can send a fax from our computer to a fax machine using a modem.

Web Site:

Most of the information stored in the Internet is organised like pages in a book. They are stored as Web sites. A Web site is a place where information about an organisation, a person or a place has been stored.

The information can be in a single page or multiple pages. The pages are linked in such a way that by clicking you can move from one page to another.

A Web page can contain pictures, sound, and text with different fonts and colours to make it impressive.

Home Page:

The home page is the first page of any organisation or information source. It is also called the index page as it can have links to other pages.

Web Browser:

A Web browser is a special communication programme that reads and interprets Web pages. Some popular Web browsers are: Netscape Navigator Microsoft Internet Explorer

Uniform Resource Locator (URL):

URL is the address or the location of a document on the Internet. We can go to any Web page by using its URL.

All Web sites are normally prefixed with www which stands for World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is a part of the Internet.

Logging on to the Internet

The steps required for connecting to the Internet are:

1. Switch on your computer and the modem.

2. Double-click the connection icon on the Desktop.

3. The Connect to dialog box appears.

4. Enter your username, password and the telephone number of ISP. Then click the Connect button.

5. You will hear the telephone number being dialed and being connected to.

6. Your user name and password are then verified.

7. After verification, you are connected to the Internet. You will see an icon moving down to the bottom-right corner of the screen.

8. Open a browser, say Internet Explorer from an icon on the Desktop. You will see a home page on the screen.

Search Engine:

The World Wide Web has millions of pages of information. Many programmes that help users to search for topics on the Internet are available. They are known as search engines. Some of the search engines are Lycos, Web Crawler, InfoSeek, Magellan, Hot Bot and Khoj.

II. Electronic mail (E-mail)

Introduction:

The Internet is a medium for communication and the exchange of information. E-mail or electronic mail lets you send letters and other types of files over the Internet. Electronic mail refers to messages sent between users of computer systems. The person you communicate with could be any user on the Internet (or on any other network).

Steps for sending an E-mail:

Following steps are required for sending an e-mail:

1. Start an e-mail programme, say Microsoft Outlook.

2. Type in the e-mail address of the recipient.

3. Compose a message using that e-mail programme.

4. Give a command to send the message.

An e-mail programme enables us to send, receive and manage our messages. One of the most popular e-mail programmes is Hotmail. This programme has a capability to send and receive e-mail via World Wide Web.

Members are not charged for this service. When a user registers to avail of this service, he receives a password and an account. The user is responsible for keeping his password confidential. The user can change the password at any time and also set up a new account and close an old one.

Advantages of using E-mail:

Speed:

E-mail is a far quicker than ordinary post. An e-mail message can reach any part of the world in a fraction of a second.

Content:

The message may consist of only a few lines of text or of several hundred lines. Unlike the postal service, the message is not charged by weight.

Cost:

No money is charged for sending and receiving e-mail even though the message travels across the world.

Receiving messages:

We need not be at our computer all time to receive a message. The message is stored by our Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP will deliver the message to us when we ask for it.

Features of an E-mail Programme:

Important features of an e-mail programme are as follows:

1. Reply to a message:

We can reply to a message. Our reply should include the original message (known as Quoting). Quoting helps the reader know which message is being replied to.

2. Forward a message:

We can forward the message we have received to someone else. E-mail programmes enable us to dispatch a copy of the message to others.

3. Store messages:

Important messages can be stored. This helps us to read the message again later on.

4. Delete a message:

We must delete unwanted messages; otherwise mail will fill up our In Box.

5. Print a message:

A message can be printed to get a hard copy.

III. Revolution in internet journalism

Computers in communication and printing:

Today the world has squeezed in a computer. It has brought the world to our finger tips. The enormous and varied functions of a computer have installed such importance to it. Now computers are in action in various fields.

Computers play vital role in the field of communication. We can communicate daily with our friend or family across the globe.

Internet gives us the information on anything that one can dream of. Computers make it easy for us to communicate all over the world through e-mail. The communication through e-mail happens in a matter of seconds rather than days.

Computers being similar to typewriter play a great role in the field of printing. The books we read are published using computers.

The text is typed using word processing software. The pictures, illustrations have been drawn with graphic packages or scanned.

Now-a-days all the printing work viz. newspaper, magazine, books etc. is done using computers. Computers have brought revolution in the field of printing.

It was started between 1993-95, when very few Indian Web sites were there in cyber space. In fact it was public sector which took lead in making use of Internet professionally.

Delhi government was one of those few state governments (with Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka), who brought their own Web sites. From those portal first, news releases were first shared with journos, who hardly knew how to operate with Internet.

India is a country of nearly 102 crores inhabitants. There are estimated 25 crores middle-class consumers. There were an estimated 50,000 Internet connection in early 1998. There were also an estimated 3 lacs India-registered Hotmail accounts. This is a multiple of six parallel personal computer uses.

Six people usually share personal computers, which penetrate to the ratio of 1.8 per 1,000. India Domain Hosts have grown from 7,175 in January 1998 to 13,253 in January 1999 and to 14,207 in February 1999.

Network Solutions rates India as the fourth most active source of domain registrations from Asia, and the tenth most active in the world.

Elsewhere in United States and Europe, Indians were already making big in Internet world. In India it took almost six years to make use of Internet in journalism.

Although before 1995 there were many Web portals, which apart from general information, were also sharing news with their surfers, but serious outlook towards news on Web was missing till the time Hindu newspaper first brought its Internet edition.

There are more than 200 major Indian news sites. News Link Services, Times Group and Living Media have done successful news experiments on Web.

And today, companies are looking beyond news sites on Web and exploring use of Internet in terms of content development, news syndication, audio-visual news presentation, pool based news sharing etc.

In 1992 Indian news industry (print and audio-visual) witnessed a boom. Almost from no-where money started overflowing newspapers like Rastriya Sahara, Observer of Business and Politics, Chauthi Duniya, Sunday Observer, Sunday Mail, The Pioneer, 12 tabloids of Indian Express on various subjects, industries and many more came into existence. Almost a dozen of television channels and production houses like UTV, TV-18, and Home TV also followed their print counterparts.

Till 1995 most of the newspapers, magazines and channels were gasping from fresh funds and software. One-by-one they closed their shops. Since then nothing has drastically changed. But in 1995 a new form of media was taking shape in United States.

For years, publishers of newspapers, magazines and other print products have been fascinated with the idea of delivering information electronically.

In contrast to conventional printing on paper, delivery by computer and other means seemed to offer several benefits both to producer and consumer.

First, the ever-escalating costs of paper and postage (or newspaper delivery) could be eliminated. Over the years, those costs had forced publications to greatly increase their prices and even helped force some publications (most notably Patriot and Times publications like Sarika, Dharamyug, and Illustrated Weekly etc.) out of existence.

Secondly, information could be disseminated to readers much more quickly than it could in printed publications.

The bulk of information in a daily newspaper is at least 12 hours old; articles in a monthly magazine are often written three or four months before they are published.

Thirdly, transmission or broadcast costs in audio-visual were so high that even a regular flow of advertisement revenue could not help many a good channel sustain.

Audio-visual news broadcast was too looking for alternate medium. In nutshell the communication community was looking cost effective medium to broadcast, to publish and to air absolutely ‘fresh’ news.

Back in United States, the Cauldron had started boiling way back in 1980s. Until recently, however, electronic delivery often has received only a lukewarm reception from readers. The earliest attempt at delivering news over computers came in the early 1980s with a technology known as Videotext.

In the early 1980s, several other publishing concerns and US newspaper companies sank tens of millions of dollars into trials and tests of a videotext technology, which delivered printed information on a TV set.

Just imagine sitting 10 or 12 feet from your television and scrolling through some really large, really low-resolution text.

The story is that the companies that ran these tests did a lot of expensive market research, asking people who had never seen a computer, or anything like videotext, what if they would like in terms of information that would be delivered as electronic text. Instant answer to such a question was YES.

The problem was that no one told the people that it would be slower than molasses in January, that news stories would be limited to a few hundred words at most, that the viewers would have to scroll from top to bottom of a list of news briefs without the ability to skip to what interested them.

In short, no one told the people what a pain in the neck it would be to try to use a videotext system. What did the people do?

They tried it, they hated it, and then they refused to use it. In one trial, they used it pretty regularly until they were asked to pay something on the order of $ 600 for a box that attached to their TV set, and then they said no, thanks, you can take the box back. Every trial failed miserably.

Videotext died a relatively rapid death. Teletext, a similar technology that was delivered by broadcast signal to television, fared no better. At their peak teletext and videotext attracted only 44 services worldwide, some with as few as 20 customers.

During the next years, publications turned to several other means of delivering information electronically. Some hooked up with online services such as CompuServe and America Online. Others experimented with fax edition and computer bulletin boards.

A range of media companies tried their hands at producing CD-ROMs, delivering information by satellite and e- mail, nil services (using three-digit phone numbers) and a number of other methods. In 1995, Electronic mail (e-mail) came of age.

As of 1993 (USA), 20 newspapers worldwide and a few magazines and newsletters were published electronically, mostly on online services such as Prodigy and CompuServe. During 1994, the number of online newspaper reached 78.

The number of newspapers publishing electronically in US soared from 78 in 1994 to 511 in mid-1995. Of those, 471 were publishing on the Web, and other 40 were publishing on, or committed to publishing on, commercial online services connected to it. As the calendar changed from 1995 to 1996, the number of online newspapers exceeded 1,000.

An independent survey in India, at least 48 newspapers had launched their Internet editions within the three years after the first daily The Hindu; put its edition on the Web in 1995.

These included dailies published from different cities in the country and in several Indian languages, besides English. Interestingly, the researcher found that about 60 percent of the content was “shovelled” from the print editions into the Web editions.

The newspapers did not have news and features prepared exclusively for the Internet editions during this phase of study. While the online newspapers did not have the same format of layout and presentation used by the print dailies, the researcher found that an online daily used many metaphors of print newspapers. They, quite like most of their counterparts abroad, did not exploit and multimedia options offered by the Internet.

While most of the readers derived “high level” of satisfaction from Indian newspapers on the Internet, they preferred to read the editions in English rather than in the regional languages of their home state, the research showed.

By fall 1998, more than 4,900 newspapers across the globe had taken to the Web, nearly 2,800 of them originating from the United States. That number included about 1,300 papers that were not online a year earlier, an increase of more than 33 percent increase.

Newspapers are hardly the only media publishing on the Web. As of late 1996, magazine publishing companies had set up about 1,300 Web sites.

According to News Link, 23 of the 50 largest magazines in the United States had online editions by fall 1996, as did seven of the 25 largest Canadian magazines.

Things are just as frantic on the broadcast side. More than 800 radio and television stations and networks had set up shop right beside their print brethren.

Many of the radio stations offer playlists, calendars of community events, news and weather reports, and several networks and more than 100 domestic stations actually broadcast over the Internet.

You can listen to the broadcast of a sports events being played across the country, or to the latest hits being played across the ocean.

Even some television networks and stations have gotten into real-time broadcasting, and CNN Interactive and others offer video clips. FasTV.com lets users perform keyword searches for video content from CNN and other sources.

For a new frontier, the World Wide Web is a crowded place. Media outlets have sprung up on the Web at an astounding rate, offering thousands of options for information-hungry surfers. In turn, millions of people have flocked online to see what they are offering.

One reason for this popularity is that more and more news stories are breaking on the Web. The most obvious case was Tehelka.com’s political and armed forces corruption case.

While the Web sites of most newspapers are content to repackage print stories, some have committed to offering breaking news online. The Times of India Internet Edition, for instance, has its own staff or reporters to cover breaking news hours before the stories can be published in the print edition.

Not all online content resides on Web pages. Some publishers are using e-mail to deliver publications over the Internet. For instance, NewsLinkservice.com sends its country specific news to mariners from almost 25 nationalities through e-mail newsletters. And the British magazine The Economist complements its Web site with two weekly e-mail newsletters (one on business and one on politics).

E-mail editions are particularly important in countries outside the United States and Europe, where a majority of Internet users do not have access to the World Wide Web.

Many newspapers and magazines that publish on the Web have never printed an issue on paper. Two of the more highly regarded are Tehelka.com and news.yahoo.com.

For some smaller Web publishers particularly the publishers of electronic magazines (check out IndiaLink.net) and alternative papers (such as VillageVoice.com)—the Web has been a gift from heaven.

Anyone with a smidgen of talent, a decent computer and an Internet service provider can publish. That is a far cry from just a few years ago, when publishing was confined to companies that could afford printing presses, large staffs, and so on.

Similarly, some of the “Broadcasters” who have sites on the Web have never sent a radio or television signal through the airwaves.

These “virtual broadcasters” include CI Net Radio and the Internet Television Network Live365.com, aiir.com, soundsofindia.com, radioindia.com, navrangradio.com etc.

With expanding bandwidth at local level, the days are not far off when audio-visual data would transfer to ultimate viewer at real-time speed (i.e. just like no final television/radio transmission). Broadband scenario in India would be driven by multimedia contents.

With this capability in hand, anybody with a small palm order, a programme idea and small capital can launch any programme on his own channel on net. Companies like Reliance, Bharti Telecom and Punk have already identified this possibility.

Innovation Continues:

Subscription fees:

The News Link Services Interactive Edition is one of the few Indian Multinational news companies (owned by an Indian) that have really set examples for others to follows. What really set the electronic newspaper apart from the crowd are the options it offers. Another landmark venture in India in this direction is NewspaperToday.com, run by Living Media Group.

Local advertisers:

Other publishers are finding ways to get more revenue from advertisers, rather than visitors. The Times of India, for instance, has signed up more than 1,500 local businesses for enhanced directory listings. For $ 99 a month, the business – many of which had never advertised in the Post’s print edition – get “microsites” that feature a home page, a map page and two pages for copy and photos about the business.

Syndication:

Yet a third model is looking for revenue from repackaging online content. While many online publishers charge for archived articles (generally those more than two to four weeks old), some are finding a handy revenue stream in selling content to other sites. For instance, SyndicationToday.com offers news, features and photographs.

Content business:

There are syndicates who update contents for other sites, like DSF Internet, Delhi. This company has developed software called Content Manager. The software allows the site owner to refresh content on a site easily. The company into this business is AllWonders.com.

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