I think the best way to explain it would be to say that Old Media is aristocratic, while New Media is democratic. Old Media is about people who are trained in finding, filtering, and delivering something to the general public. For example, a newspaper reporter has to hunt for a story, find it, determine whether it is truely newsworthy, then write it up, and submit it to an editor. Then the editor has to review it, edit it (duh), and decide if it will get published. These people are not experts (arguably) in what they are reporting on; instead they are experts on reporting. There is a huge distinction here. A reporter might not know the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground, but they know how to tell whether that difference is something worth telling other people about. New Media is grass-roots. People create their own content, then put it somewhere where other people can find it and decide for themselves if it is worthy. Using the same example of a news story, if a person writes about something that is happening, they can put it on twitter, or digg.com and if enough people retweet it or digg it, then it has been voted on to be relevant for more people to see. Are these people experts? Maybe, but not necessarily. A youtube clip might get 100,000 views even though it is some dude that happened to have a camera with him when something funny happened. Or, it might be people who worked in television, then created their own network of internet videos to post on their website (Revision3).
Old Media vs New Media is not about where the media is delivered. For example, a news article on CNN.com is still Old Media, and a TV show on public access is still New Media. The one is just diguised in the form that traditionally belongs to the other. I love Hulu.com, but it is Old Media. iTunes has sold millions of songs, but it is still Old Media music created for a record label in a fancy music studio. Find a song on MySpace that was recorded in some guy’s basement, who doesn’t have a record contract of any kind, and you are getting to this fancy New Media stuff.
But then, by that definition, a lot of old (chronologically) media could be considered New Media. Well, I would say yes. Which is why I say that Old Media vs New Media doesn’t really matter. New Media isn’t new, its just easier to find now than it used to be. At the end of the day, I would probably rather watch a movie that was made by a movie studio than by a guy in his back yard. Of course, there are exceptions, like Film Riot. I would rather listen to an album that sounds professionally produced than an album that sounds like it was recorded in the lead singer’s garage. But I am ever-thankful that the band has the ability to put that poorly recorded album up where people can find it, then tell their friends about it. With enough word of mouth, they can get gigs where they can make some money to spend more time on their next record so they can book more gigs and get more word of mouth, and eventually, if they are good enough, they will be able to remaster that first raw album into something that you can actually listen to without your ears bleeding from the technical mistakes.
We are told that New Media is the next big thing, but that stuff was always there, it was just harder to find. Of course, the fact that there are more New Media success stories means that other normal people are realizing that they can make stuff, too, which means that the number of New people creating Media is getting bigger and bigger. Proponents of New Media are starting this Old Media New Media war so that they can draw more attention to it, because attention is what they don’t have. Old Media has already established a consumer base, so attention is something they already have plenty of. It doesn’t benefit them to draw attention to the fight.
Will Old Media always exist? Yes. Will New Media always exist? Yes. It will get easier to find New Media, and it will get harder to justify the costs of Old Media because of it, but neither will ever really win.