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News in the Age of Participation



We all know that news is changing. How we get news, where we get news, how we react to news, what we do with news when we get it and on and on. It’s one of those factors that are known to all but hard to quantify as to the true impact of our news habit both for now and into the future.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has published a report that takes a look at this rapidly changing area of our lives and the impact it has. As we always do here at Marketing Pilgrim we always want to see the marketing side of issues and this particular paradigm shift is making marketers move like never before.

So what is it about Americans and the news? Pew sums up the gist of this subject with

In the digital era, news has become omnipresent. Americans access it in multiple formats on multiple platforms on myriad devices. The days of loyalty to a particular news organization on a particular piece of technology in a particular form are gone. The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, including national TV, local TV, the internet, local newspapers, radio, and national newspapers. Some 46% of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms on a typical day. Just 7% get their news from a single media platform on a typical day.

We know the plight of newspapers but this phenomenon is much bigger than that. While everyone in the online space cries victory over traditional media the fight ahead for the online news gatherer, participator and disseminator will be intense and difficult. Becoming one of the several sources used by someone online will not be easy and not all will survive by just “being there”.

Here are a few pieces of data to consider about news:

Portable : 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.

Personalized : 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.

Participatory : 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

What kind of news would people like to see more of online?

44% said scientific news and discoveries
41% said religion and spirituality
39% said health and medicine
39% said their state government
38% said their neighborhood or local community.

News now is a social thing as well. We get first hand reports from disasters when possible and these bits of information are spread rapidly through the Internet. The truth is most peple want something to talk about

Getting news is often an important social act. Some 72% of American news consumers say they follow the news because they enjoy talking with others about what is happening in the world and 69% say keeping up with the news is a social or civic obligation. And 50% of American news consumers say they rely to some degree on people around them to tell them the news they need to know. Online, the social experience is widespread:

75% of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52% say they share links to news with others via those means.

51% of social networking site (e.g. Facebook) users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow. Another 23% of this cohort follow news organizations or individual journalists on social networking sites.

So as marketers how so you corral this dissemination of the news? How do you make sure your message is getting in front of the right people at the right time? Will there come a time where there may be too much choice? For marketers that may be true because this moving target of where people get their information is not going to be easy to track or contain.

We as marketers welcome greater segmentation in theory but when it comes to actually seeing which segments are where in an ever expanding group of content deliverers one has to wonder if marketers should have been careful what they were asking for.