Blog

A smart healthcare marketing blog
17
November 2016

The state of the news media

Today in American, most media companies have become digital companies. We used to ask questions about how people use different kinds of media like newspapers and television. But after 2012, we stopped asking those questions because they did not reflect how people think and how they act.

They consume digital media when it comes from a traditional newspaper organization. They consume digital media when it comes from a traditional television organization And they consumer digital media when it comes from a traditional radio organization.

These changes have disrupted television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

Pew Research Center have found that social media sites have become important sources of news for many Americans. A majority of users of Facebook and Twitter get news from those platforms.

The big meaning of these findings is that people are now depending a lot on their friends to be their “editors” about what information is important. Their friends are “information gatekeepers” in much the same way that news editors used to be the ones making decisions for a community about what information is important and interesting for the community to know.

Key media trends 2015

Key media trends 2015

In America this is a really important trend because citizens do not trust the government or news organizations as much as they did a generation ago. They are shifting their trust to their personal networks. Their friends’ opinions are the ones that often affect the products and services they buy, their political opinion, and even their lifestyles and personal habits.

Three digital revolutions have occurred in the last generation and each of them has affected the way people think about news and information. Also, each revolution has impacted the way people can participate in creating and sharing news. They do not have to depend exclusively on news organizations to tell them what is going on in their community or their province or their nation or around the world. They can discover much of what is going on by participating in media culture themselves – acting as their own broadcasters and publishers.

Revolution #1

The first revolution that Pew Research documented involves the rise of the internet and high-speed broadband connections to the internet. You can see in this chart that in America, about one tenth of adults used the internet in the year 1996. Now 87% of adults use the internet. Most of them have online wired connections at home or they use a smartphone with an internet connection at home.

Graph of internet users from 1996 to 2015

Graph of internet users from 1996 to 2015

The rise of the internet and the world wide web had a profound impact because they allowed so many people and organizations to make contributions to news and information through websites. This exploded the number of opportunities that people had to find the information that interested them.

As the web became a part of people’s daily lives, they found ways to get to the news and information that mattered most to them and it meant that the power of traditional, industrial-era news organizations to shape news stories and the culture was diminished a bit because people had other ways to discover the information they cared about. As the amount of information kept increasing and increasing it also meant that new information intermediaries like search engines became important ways that people found the material they needed.

Revolution #2

The second revolution involved mobile connectivity as people began to enjoy cell phones and then smartphones after the Apple iPhone was introduced in 2007.

You see in this chart now that 92% of American adults have cell phones and 68% — two thirds – have smartphones.

Graph of number of people with mobile connections from 1997 to 2015

Graph of number of people with mobile connections from 2000 to 2015

The mobile revolution has been important because it means people can contact others anytime and anywhere. They can get information any time they want as long as they have their phone. One could say that phones have allowed data to become our “third skin” – our first skin is our real skin; our second skin is our clothes; and now our third skin is all the data, information, and news that is in the air around us and easily captured by the apps in our mobile devices.

Indeed, phones have become so important to people that they treat them like another body part – as important to them as their arms and their legs!

Revolution #3

Social media sites have grown exponentially from 2005 to 2015

Social media sites have grown exponentially from 2005 to 2015

More and more people will get news and information on their mobile devices.

In one study Pew Research did about web traffic to the most important news sites in America, they found that in 39 cases, there was more traffic to the news site from mobile devices than from desktops or laptops and only 10 sites had more traffic from fixed computers, rather than mobile computers.

mobile traffic statistic

Mobile and Social go Together

Pew Research Center also have found in their research that social media has become an important source of news for many Americans. A majority of users of Facebook and Twitter get news from those platforms.

The big meaning of these findings is that people are now depending a lot on their friends to be their “editors” about what information is important. Their friends are “information gatekeepers” in much the same way that news editors used to be the ones making decisions for a community about what information is important and interesting for the community to know.

The general public are shifting their trust to their personal networks. Their friends’ opinions are the ones that often affect the products and services they buy, their political opinion, and even their lifestyles and personal habits.

Social networking/social media sites have become important sources of news for many Americans.

Facebook Now Rivals Legacy News Sources

In addition, social media is becoming a news source that rivals other traditional sources. In American, Facebook is as important to political news consumers as local news TV station broadcasts, which for two generations have been the most popular source of news for Americans by a wide margin. And Facebook is more popular as a news source than cable television news stations and broadcast outlets.

Facebook Now Rivals Legacy News Sources

Facebook Now Rivals Legacy News Sources

There are Clear Generational Divides

For younger users, Facebook is now more important than “local news” programs for getting news. That s different from older generations, which still rely more on local

This is an important trend because technology change is usually powered by generational change. Pew Research Center saw in their data that teenagers and young adults are eager users of digital technology. In America, young people say their technology use is an important part of their personal identity and their generational identity. Whereas, some earlier generations think of themselves as defined by the wars they fought or the economic challenges they faced, younger people now think almost instinctively first about how important technology has been in shaping their view of who they are.

There are Clear Generational Divides between millennials are ages 18-34 and Baby Boomers aged 51-68

There are Clear Generational Divides between millennials are ages 18-34 and Baby Boomers aged 51-68

Digital Video and Radio News on the Rise

The same trend towards digital content applies to video. This slide shows some data about how many people now get news from online videos. It’s about a third of all Americans and half of those who use the internet.

Many news organizations now find they get as much attention to their archived online videos as they get to their live programs.

Many news organizations now find they get as much attention to their archived online videos as they get to their live programs.

Many news organizations now find they get as much attention to their archived online videos as they get to their live programs.

Consumers Are a Part of the Process

Of course, one of the main differences between internet information and information sources of the past is that the internet is a participatory media. Instead of Industrial Era media, in which one source broadcast information to many consumers, the internet is much more defined by one-to-one and many-to-many communication.

It is not a one-direction platform where the flow of information is from a central source to consumers. It facilitates people being their own broadcasters and publishers. And they find this very meaningful.

The data presented below shows how many people share the news they encounter, how many discuss online the news they see with others, how they post information and pictures and videos about news events they see taking place in front of them.

This is very empowering and really changes political and civic life.

The internet is much more defined by one-to-one and many-to-many communication.

The internet is much more defined by one-to-one and many-to-many communication.

What will come next?

We have seen lots of change already, but a fourth revolution is at our door. The internet of things (IoT) will be major force in the coming years.

The internet of things means that lots of devices become networked – smart appliances, smart rooms, smart cars, smart buildings – and there is more “intelligence” built into artifacts of daily life.

When Pew Research Center asked experts about what would happen in the next 10 years, they predicted by by 2025, the internet will become ‘like electricity’ — less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and for ill.

They thought the good benefits would include more convenience, more intelligence, and more connectivity. They worried about the impact of the IoT on privacy, about class divisions, and about whether government institutions could “keep up” and make wise policies about how these tools can be used.

It will be a very challenging and exciting time.

Predictions ::

  • Screens and data will be almost everywhere
  • Augmented reality will bring media and data into real life
  • Virtual reality will become immersive and compelling
  • Alerts will become pervasive and people will regulate their media streams more aggressively
  • Smart agents  and machines enabled by “artificial intelligence” will work alongside people as their assistants and “media concierges”

So, the story in the Pew Research data about America are that digital technology revolutions have had major impacts on the way people get news and information, they way they share news and information, and the way they create news information.

They like many of these changes because they can get information they like, they can participate in media culture, and their voices have greater power in civic life.

At the same time, there are major challenges that arise from the explosion of digital information and the way people use it.

One of the fathers of the digital world, Alan Kay saw much of this coming and argued that the impacts were not inevitable and unavoidable. He was hoping that people would create technology that would improve life and not create lots of new problems.

He believed, as I have noted here, that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Shared
No Comments

Leave a Reply