HomeAMH VoicesAMHVoices: Social Media is not the death of TV, Print!

AMHVoices: Social Media is not the death of TV, Print!


Some have predicted the extinction of electronic and print media as use of social media exponentially grows. More so, when companies spent more advertising dollars on Facebook than on television for the first time ever in 2016.

By Victor Mabutho

Television, radio, broadsheets and magazines are getting to grips with a decline viewers, listeners and readers which might be attributed to this new type of media.

Almost 100 years ago newspaper owners in America were grappling to get a share of the just invented radio which had potential of a wider audience reach and was free, a direct threat to newspaper reader base and advertising dollars.

This lead to newspapers rushing to own radio stations to ensure they kept their readers as well as cash in on listeners (doesn’t that sound familiar?). This obviously didn’t grossly impact the newspaper industry as initially anticipated. Even when the television came audiences didn’t just ditch newspapers or radio, rather it was an addition to the catalogue of media that was there at the time.

The print and electronic media co-existed in harmony somewhat, focusing on creating content for target audiences selling advertising space/time to the most relevant sponsors. Along came websites, blogging, Facebook, Twitter etc which opened the floodgates for content producers and consumers. Social media has created alternative access to content, where it is freely available or can be accessed by paying a premium. Social media has especially resonated with specialised groups providing text, audio and video for specific areas of interest.

Conventional forms of media are not under threat in Zimbabwe or worldwide, because even though social media has given anyone an opportunity to communicate, television/radio stations and newspapers still command a large following. Traditional media has built trust by providing credible information and captivating content, because of the skill staff such as writers, producers, editors and graphic designers.

Zimbabwe is in the medieval age of social media, due to our economic situation and this perception that technology is meant for “Youthies”. Local advertisers would like to keep things the way they are, where print and radio will continue to be the dominant forms of media. Investing in social media is perceived as flashing money down the toilet.

Internet access and social media go hand in glove, thus improved internet means an increase in social media use.

Popular sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have millions of followers, who enjoy content posted on these sites. Not many people access internet worldwide, and thus the majority of the planet’s population depend on electronic and print media for information. In Zimbabwe internet is out of reach for most citizens, let alone the affording the devises that go online.

Social media compliments conventional media, at least for the time being. Most newspapers, television and radio stations have digital platforms where they continue to link with their traditional audiences and connect with new viewers/listeners/readers.

Conventional media will still be relevant for some time to come but crafty media owners can cash in on social media, in an increasingly competitive industry. The decline in readership/listeners/viewers can’t be solely attributed to social media but ratherto the exponential number of content creators, competing for a share of the same target market.

The press and electronic media aren’t dead.

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