New communication tools

Posted May 10, 2011 | New Media Project

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By Verity A. Jones


What are the vast and rapid changes occurring in communication today? Most obvious, the tools of communicating are changing. Digital and visual communication in American life is taking prominence over the printed word in newspapers, magazines, and books, and has rendered unviable many print media organizations’ business models. The closing of hundreds, if not thousands, of local newspapers and magazines, the loss of 30,000 journalism jobs in three years, and the demise of religious print publications like The Other Side (2006), The Church Herald (2009), Episcopal Life (2009), and DisciplesWorld (2009), signal this shift from print to digital dominance. Even traditional book sales are changing; in January, Amazon.com announced that the sale of e-books on Amazon.com for the Kindle e-reader outpaced the sale of both hardcover and paperback books.

Websites and blogs have become more important to an organization’s visibility than maintaining telephone and address listings in the local yellow pages. Advanced websites of larger organizations and media outlets regularly incorporate social media options. From RSS to e-newsletters to Ning sites, organizations are getting their message out and hearing back about that message with electrifying speed. Blogs have become so prominent in news and commentary that some bloggers with significant readership have been admitted to traditional press corps. Facebook and Twitter have more than 500,000 users worldwide. Communities of people are organizing everything from local knitting clubs to social justice action events using Facebook and Twitter. Downloading podcasts, music, and videos is easier than checking out books from the local library. And smart phones have made Internet access ever more readily available to diverse audiences.

The New Media Project will do its best to collect information and research regarding how religious leaders are using these new tools of communication today.

Verity A. Jones is the project director of the New Media Project and a Research Fellow at Union Theological Seminary.

The New Media Project is a research project helping religious leaders become theologically savvy about technology. To request permission to repost this content, please contact newmediaproject@cts.edu.

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