Posted February 10, 2014 5:28 pm by with 1 comment

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HLN AdHLN network president Albie Hecht just announced a radical shift in his network’s focus. He’s leaving old school journalism behind in the hopes of turning HLN into the “new TV home for the social media generation.”

Going forward, the shows on HLN will pull their content from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Instead of breaking news, they’ll be curating the news – or what passes for the news on the Internet.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Hecht said,

“Younger consumers have a very different perception of what news and information is. For them, news is really made in the palm of their hands, in the iPhone prayer position. But they want every update in real time and nonstop and that’s the space that is not on TV. Our headlines are going to be ripped from social media.”

iPhone prayer position! Hallelujah brother, it’s so, so true. But just because it’s true doesn’t mean it will work on TV. People get their news from social media because it’s instantaneous. It’s fast and easily shared. But because it’s fast and easily shared, it’s also often wrong. I’ve seen news teams rush to air with a story based on a Tweet only to discover that it was bogus.

Of course, the way Hecht describes it, bogus won’t really matter. He wants to talk about what’s trending. If a fake story is trending, then that’s the news. If a guy who made the world’s largest spitball is racking up the views on YouTube, then that’s the day’s top story.

It’s an interesting concept. It reminds me of the early days of MTV. An entire network showing nothing but music videos? With VJ’s instead of DJ’s? No one thought it would last. But people tuned in and stayed for hours and hours at a time. When Michael Jackson’s Thriller video premiered they turned it into a must-see event. I still remember watching it for the first time.

Now here’s HLN trying to reinvent the news for a younger generation. Vine stars instead of movie stars. Tweeters instead of news anchors. Segments pulled directly from Tumblr and Pinterest. The top social media stories all pulled together in one place.

Social media is already happening on TV. I’m not just talking about those hashtags in the corner or the voting on American Idol. Bravo’s series Toned Up follows fitness YouTube stars Katrina and Kareena as they build their Internet empire. Courtney Loves Dallas (also on Bravo) is a reality show about a fashion blogger. Spike’s new series Thrift Hunters stars the two guys who run the popular blog Thrifting with the Boys.

The more I think about it, the more I believe it’s going to work. And more social media coverage on TV, means more people visiting social media sites online and that’s good for every online marketer.

HLN – I may not be a millennial, but I’ll be watching.