By Hendrawan Setiawan
Audiences of tomorrow are already tuning out of mainstream media today, noted Manuel L. Quezon III, a columnist with the Philippines Daily Inquirer, as he spoke on the the new media and democracy at the closing on June 8 of the two-day 5th Forum of Emerging Leaders in Asian Journalism convened by the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ) of Ateneo de Manila University.
Quezon quoted a 2007 study saying “thanks to virtual connectivity technology like text messaging and the Internet” teens are watching TV less, listening to less radio, reading fewer book and magazines, less active and spending less money on traditional consumer items.
He noted that in Philippines, for instance, 66% of Filipinos use social media to stay in touch with friends and family, while 64% send e-mails and 63%, SMS or text messages.
He pointed to the phenomenal rise of Facebook. Since last year, he said the number of users has gone from 4% to a staggering 83% this year.
But in the terms of blogging, Filipinos, for one, tend to be passive consumers, reading instead of writing.
Quezon hoped that new media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs could become partners to further democracy in society.
He said new media coverage of the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng led to a closer cooperation, even mutual dependence between formerly detached audiences and media. It was a moment, Quezon said, when media and the public were one, when the distinction between old and new media disappeared.
“If we cannot engage our audiences democratically, there is no sense in discussing new media and democracy,” he said.