The different ways in which we access media has changed the relative importance that we place on different types of news. The news that we find through traditional delivery mechanisms is no longer as relevant as the news that we actively seek out or that finds us on social media.
Traditional media is losing relevance
In the dark ages pre-internet, there was only really one way to consume news – passively. You either read it (in hard copy), watched it or heard it, and were (generally) at the mercy of your local publisher.
I remember staying up late most nights just to catch a glimpse of the NBA highlights on Sports Tonight which – if you remember Ten’s programming in the late 90s – meant that I had a better chance of finding a chupacabra.
Thankfully, that is no longer the case and we are surrounded by more media and information than we could ever hope to consume. We can now find endless amounts of information about the things that interest us no matter how esoteric our tastes.
We are no longer passive but active consumers of news.
It matters where it’s from
With so much news content already vying for our attention and our interest, what this means is that where we heard it determines if we are really paying attention to it.
Search, RSS and email, in particular, have flipped news on it’s head. Instead of going to a single or a few sources and hoping to find something of interest, we simply subscribe to the blogs, podcasts, etc. that interest us. That we actively and deliberately subscribe means that we assign it a higher value than something we happen to see in the paper.
This gets taken a little further when social media gets thrown into the mix. The ability to share and recommend means that we are now also exposed to what others in our network think is interesting. Assuming you actually like and respect that person, you are more likely to click on a link that they are sharing than if it were put to you by an anonymous corporation.
In summary, we are gradually paying less and less attention to news that comes to us pre-packaged. While the morning paper or the 6 o’clock news will still be part of our media consumption, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the face of more relevant sources such as social media and RSS feeds that directly interest us.
Have new technologies changed the way you find out news? Do you still rely on traditional sources or is the bulk of the news you consume now found online?