This seems a proper place to put in a good word for sites such as eNotes. Thanks to sites such as this, and of course thanks to the internet in general, there is an enormously greater of amount of information available to students today than there was 30 years ago. The information is instantly accessible and thus time can be used much more efficiently.
Media has definitely evolved with the times. It's so easily accessible now. You don't have to wait until the 6pm local news to hear about any particular story. There are multiple media outselts that are 24/7. It's constant news all the time.
Another thing is that news is more sensationalized. There's also a lot of desensitization going on, perhaps because the news is 24/7. The stories are so much more graphic than what they need to be. They also include extremely graphic photographs or footage in news reports now. It's extremely unfortunate. I think with new media came a lack of ethics. Perhaps because there is so much competition out there now.
One thing about the new media: The powers that have controlled the major newspapers and news stations cannot now control all the information that comes to people. Nowadays people can really get the truth on matters, rather than the slant of America's major newspapers or news stations.
When it comes to new and old media there is a fascinating book that I totally enjoyed titled The Victorian Internet: The remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century's on-line pioneers.
I loved that book because it made me realize how amazing has been the transformation of communications and the media throughout the ages. I see how we have managed to use one prototype model and turn it into a much more sophisticated creation that changes along with the many improvements in the fields of technology and industry.
I just find it amazing and it goes to show the natural human ability to change, create, and achieve so many things.
Speamerfan's point is well taken. Many "media" now act individually, rather than as part of an organization. With the explosion of blogs, etc., the types of items considered newsworthy has expanded exponentially. There seems to be no standard of conduct or propriety in the media; it is rather a matter of what will sell to the public. I can't help but remember that the press went out of its way to avoid depicting Franklin Roosevelt in his wheel chair, even during his election years. Bloggers, etc. today would have a field day with this, speculating on everything from his ability to rule to his sex life. To that extent, the "new" media differ considerably from the old media: the rule book has been abandoned completely. As Speamerfan notes, the recent events in London and Rudolph Murdoch's people make this painfully obvious.
I think as well we can look towards the particpatory nature of "new" forms of media. Blogging, discussions and forums have all made media a much more interactive phenomenon than it was before. Just going on to any website of a newspaper gives users the opportunity to "have their say" by responding to an article or an event and giving their own opinion. We are not left to read somebody else's ideas and then grumble about them. The new media has meant that we can actively argue against views expressed by others in using a global medium.
I do think there are some differences, if one expands the definition of "media" to include forms such as blogs, and pohnpei397's comments about bloggers are what caused me to think about this. The media, traditionally, have been organizations, not individual actors, and as such, there have always been some checks and balances upon the process of disseminating news and opinion, publishers and editors, for example, who exert some control upon the process and the product. There has been, to some degree, a code of ethics, although recent events in England have shown us that this is not necessarily adhered to. Additionally, there have been legal and marketplace factors that have acted as forces upon traditional media. A blogger is subject to none of those factors, acting as an individual, with or without self-restraint. This is a form of media, I suppose, because information, misinformation, or opinion can be disseminated widely. However, this new media, to me, is akin to the people I meet sometimes at social or professional events, who indulge in what feel like endless rants, frequently with no basis whatsoever for what they are saying, with nothing to keep them in check. I will admit, though, that it is easier to simply close a blog page than it is to get away from these people at parties.
I do not think the "new media" are truly new. I think that they are very similar to the old media, only much faster and more omnipresent.
"New media" are outlets like bloggers who are constantly updating their content and using the internet to get it out to people as quickly as possible. This is different from the old media in that the old media were much slower. However, the same basic dynamic is at work. In general, what happened with both the old and new media is that some people were/are gathering information and disseminating it to the public as quickly as possible. The major change is that now it is possible for this process to happen more quickly. However, it is the same basic process.