Are the differences between traditional media and new media due to the level of trust, bias, and informativeness? Let us look at the 2007 Oxford Internet Institute survey. Among Internet users, Internet is a bit more reliable than TV (6.8 out of a 10-point scale vs. 6.7) and more reliable than newspapers (5.8). Among Internet non-users, TV is the most reliable medium (6.3) but Internet is rated the same as newspaper (5.7). Is it because Internet users are mostly wild wild heads who hate anything from the Easy Easy East, aka, the traditional world? Internet users score higher than non-users in confidence in the government (!), scientists, and not surprisingly, people on the Internet. They have the same level of confidence as non-users in doctors and people in the country. Only slightly lower than non-users in confidence in people they know (3.8 out of a 5-point scale vs. 3.9).
Are new media less informative than traditional media? When rating the importance of different media for information, both users and non-users choose talking to other people as the most important channel (3.7 out of a 5-point scale). The gap lies in Internet as information source. Users rate Internet almost as important as talking to others (3.6) whereas non-users treat Internet as the least important medium (1.7). So what can we conclude? It depends on who you are talking to. Informativeness is a perception measure rather than a factual measure.
How about the places "which are more considered, more moderated, where people put their names down and identify themselves"? Are they seldom seen online? I have no answer to this question. We have to do a comprehensive content analysis in order to have an answer. What I can say is the Internet and public sphere have been paired up for a long time. Researchers have witnessed many successful trials.
If there is a fatal critique to my discussions above, it will be "your data are not from Singapore!" Yes, you are right. But are there any such data? Let me know...
Mr Lee noted there will always be a role for traditional media to present trusted, unbiased and informed opinions even if some may feel that the information generated by traditional media is rather tame compared to what’s online.
“There is a place called the Wild Wild West and there are other places which are not so wild. And the new media, some of it are Wild West and anything goes, and people can say anything they want, and tomorrow (they) take a completely contrary view,” said Mr Lee.
Acknowledging that “that is just the way the medium is”, he added: “But even in the Internet, there are places which are more considered, more moderated, where people put their names down and identify themselves. And there is a debate which goes on and a give-and-take, which is not so rambunctious but perhaps more thoughtful.” That said, he noted traditional media has seen its viewership and readership numbers going up.
I am an Associate Professor at Department of Communication and New Media, National University of Singapore.