Media undeniably depend on technology, but technology is one segment of media and Namibia is slowly and surely embracing digital media compare to the past 15 years. This is technological development, one of the driving forces of economy and plays a weighty role in the communication for development. The digital ground is taking over from analog set-up; our works have become effective and efficient. Days are gone, when we had to stand long in queues to withdraw or make deposit in the banks. Modern days, all you need are laptops or gadgets and internet connection to deposit and transfer money between bank accounts. Communication has been made easier, as we synchronously interacting through media platforms whenever and wherever. The business sectors have improved the fleet management, inventory system, delivery of goods and communication through tracking apps such as GPS vehicle tracker and GPS phone tracker.
Media technology is revolutionary in many sectors, health = e-health, marketing = e-marketing, banking = e-banking, education = e-education, medicine = e-medicine, e-procurement and the list goes on, although Namibia still have to develop in various sectors, the environment is so far grooming to adopt and adjust services to electronic mode. This makes us think twice when choosing future career, as technology is taking over. Some occupations will become obsolete, institutions are implementing electronic services; e-registration, e-examination and soon e-medical checkups.
Newspapers are no long the one way communication, they are interactive, participatory (public) platform and journalists depend on social media update posts to narrate the news pieces as the follow up deep and find the story angles to present to audiences; all these, credit to media technology. It’s obvious, in digital world, the education is facing arduous challenge in future, in which traditional schooling methods will be obsolete, and teaching will be conducted through “video lectures”, which is already happening in online study system.
Here the social media, which are quite addictive in the lives of the people and hardly a day pass, without surfing internet, log in your Facebook, Instagram among the most used social media platforms. Many media houses and corporate organizations have created social medium pages such on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, this is not only the good tool for marketing but also to reach out to their customers and public for beneficial information and services, one may need.
Media is the strong tool in democratic process and it’s the backbone of healthy democracy, Namibia media exposes loopholes in the governing authorities, which help the government in filling the vacuum of maladministration, makes the system quite accountable and responsive to the need of the citizens. Namibia and other part of the world, celebrated World Press Freedom day on 3rd May and this year, the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index has ranked Namibia at position number 23 worldwide and at the 1st place in Africa; the media landscape in Namibia is quite free compare to other countries globally. President Hage Geingob accentuated on the press freedom in the country in his State of the Nation Address, the president stressed the roles the media plays in shaping democracy in the country in order to strengthen the coordination and development of government. Namibia’s constitution certainly guarantees freedom of speech as enshrined in Chapter 3, article 21, the Article states that all people shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. But do people practice this Article endorsing to media ethics and norms, when it comes to citizen journalism? Despite the positive changes media and technology have brought in Namibia and continue to bring to us and with good media freedom rakings, there are “downs” that come along; we are in the tech savvy millennium. Many Namibians are now blessed with smartphones and laptops to reach anyone at any time, because communication has been made efficient through social media and texting; mostly the youthful generation is 24/7 on media communication platforms/tools such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Do we ever think of the damage individuals do to each other through social media? Do we ever analyze the negative impacts social media have perpetrated in the younger generation especially school going children, those privileged to have their parents, siblings and relatives buying them phones and other gizmos? They post whatever they want, without observing media ethics and norms. There have been many incidents, in recent time of “exposing” people, such as publishing nude pictures, indecent video and audio messages; people’s lives are broadcasted for all to see, and it is really malevolent that people are ruining other citizen’s reputation. Many learners spend their time on it by chatting and surfing the Internet for non-educative information, this can even be one of the contributing factors to failure rate in schools recent years, as learners are glued to their phones all day making them lose time of studying.
There is a need for media/digital literacy in school curriculum, not only for the benefits of abiding by media ethics but also adjusting to the digital scenario in future. Therefore modern education should provide media technological skills for analyzing and evaluating information in valuable and real life time relationships with other people.
Press is the fourth estate of the government, an eye opener! No press - no democracy, no information for socio economic, no technological development and political changes!
*Leonard Kanime is a Doctor of Philosophy scholar in Culture and Media Studies at the University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa and the views expressed herein are his own.