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World experts divided over role and potential of social mass media

July 05, 2012, 18:22 UTC+3

With the development of social media the influence of traditional mass media will ease slightly

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MOSCOW, July 5 (Itar-Tass) —— Participants in the World Media Summit, currently underway in Moscow, have offered a variety of opinions of the social media’s role in the modern information space. Some see the social networks and other similar Internet resources as engines of democracy, while others argue they are a tool to control public opinion.

South Korea expects a boom of social media. These are an impulse to the development of democracy, said the president and general director of the South Korean news agency Yonhap, Park Jung-chan. In his opinion social Internet-resources have become a catalyst of pluralistic development in Korea, because they help voice opinions in open discussion formats.

With the development of social media the influence of traditional mass media will ease slightly, Park predicts. At the same time he said that these two different types of information sources would be unable to substitute for each other, because their functions are different. The functions of traditional mass media are wider, he remarked. They (traditional and social mass media) should build stronger relations with each other, they should cooperate, Park said.

South Koreans are eager to enjoy the benefits of new technologies and been using the Internet very actively. Park said up to 80 percent of Internet users in his country write to blogs.

Russia’s expert in the field of new technologies, Igor Ashmanov, recalled that social media often saw information leaks having nothing to do with authentic facts. “This is being done for the sole purpose of shirking responsibility. This evasion of responsibility results in the emergence of absolutely irresponsible content in the world web. That content influences people,” Ashmanov said.

The director of the Bulgarian national radio Valery Todorov, for his part, warned against judging the social media too harshly, because inauthentic information, unchecked facts and suspicious sources of information were quite frequent in the publications of conventional mass media, too. Nevertheless, in his opinion, the social media will be unable to completely substitute for the traditional ones in the near future. “This is impossible, because the social media lack the professionalism and credibility enjoyed by the traditional ones, whose activity is liable to legal control,” he said.

Todorov sees no need for some special legislation for social media, though.

“I do not think it would be correct to control the free media market. It’s like soccer. We all like to play the game, but not all of us are professional players. We all can play the game of social media, but far from all of us will become journalists,” he said, adding that the question remained of the impartiality and professional ethnics of social mass media, because “these can be manipulated, too.”

Todorov remarked that traditional mass media have a considerable lagging behind in terms of technologies, while the social ones lack experience. At the same time, he said, content and its quality is number one priority for the readership and “this is what the main competition will be based on.” To participate in that competition the social media should gain experience to catch up with the traditional media, and to blend it with the available technologies.

The World Media Summit opened in Moscow on Thursday morning. Its motto is World Media: the Challenges of the 21ST Century. It has gathered an unprecedented number of participants – more than 300 top managers representing 213 mass media from 103 countries.

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