Tag Archives: Breaking news

What’s Up?

You might have heard about the latest information from the Pew Research Center about how most of us seem to get our news these days.  If the study is accurate, you might even have heard about it on Twitter or found it in your Facebook news feed.  You see, according to the study, clear majorities of Twitter (63%) and Facebook users (63%) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users (52% of Twitter users, 47% of Facebook users) said they got news from the social platforms.  

What makes me a little nervous is what the Pew folks go on to say:

As more social networking sites recognize and adapt to their role in the news environment, each will offer unique features for news users, and these features may foster shifts in news use. Those different uses around news features have implications for how Americans learn about the world and their communities, and for how they take part in the democratic process.

Having worked with professional reporters and journalists, I can tell you that they don’t just report what they see since sometimes appearances can be deceiving.  The problem, both in journalism and in business, is that instant analysis is often wrong – who can forget CNN, The Boston Globe, and others having to retract reports around the Boston Marathon bombing?  When the reportage is immediate from many people who are untrained in evaluating information (what’s the source, how reliable, etc.), the chances of something being way off base increase dramatically.  Couple that with the built-in selectivity, in the case of Facebook, of algorithms which filter what you see unless you dig a little and one can see how “news” found on social media can easily be “rumor.”

I think social media can play a valuable role in surfacing breaking stories.  Twitter is soon set to unveil its long-rumored news feature, “Project Lightning.” The feature will allow anyone, whether they are a Twitter user or not, to view a feed of tweets, images and videos about live events as they happen, curated by a bevy of new employees with “newsroom experience.”  This is a good thing, in my opinion.  What’s not is accepting what we see there as gospel until there are multiple, professionally trained sources weighing in.  Yes, sometimes they’re wrong (see above), but when they don’t try to compete with the instantaneous stuff found in non-professional sources, they generally get it right.  What do you think?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

Read All About It

How do you find out what’s going on?

English: London Newsboy Selling Pall Mall Gaze...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a pretty good idea how you do so with respect to your family and friends and business colleagues.  That would be via social networks and email or maybe even (Lord help us) a good old-fashioned phone call or (gasp) face to face encounter.  IRL – what a concept (“in real life” for the less digitally inclined among us). But what about finding out about the news?  How do most people do that these days?  Is it 24/7 news channels?  Newspapers or their websites?  Local TV and their digital presences?

As it turns out, it’s pretty much the same way we get the “other” news.  According to the good folks over at the Pew Research Journalism Project three in ten adults get at least some news while on Facebook.  Not that they’re actually looking since 78% of Facebook news users mostly see news when on Facebook for other reasons.  The Pew folks aren’t picking on Facebook but since Facebook reaches far more Americans than any other social media site it therefore allows for the most in-depth study.

Just 34% of Facebook news consumers “like” a news organization or individual journalist, which suggests that the news they see there is coming from friends – the same friends likely sending them posts about everything else.  Entertainment news tops the list of topics Facebook news consumers report seeing and is, unfortunately, indicative of our focus these days. This is followed by ‘people and events in my community’, sports, national government and politics, crime, health and medicine, and local government and politics. Even international news reaches roughly one in four Facebook news consumers.

Not only are social network users sharing news stories, but, particularly with the growth in mobile devices, a certain portion is contributing to the reporting by taking photos or videos.  In fact, the study showed that on Twitter, groups of people come together around news events they feel passionately about. But opinions expressed on Twitter often differ from broad public opinion.   That’s not a shock given that Twitter’s user base is not really representative of the public as a whole.  Finally, in honor of “whatever”, visitors who come to a news site through Facebook or search display have far lower engagement with that outlet than those who come to that news website directly.

How do you find out what’s going on?  Turns out that it finds you for the most part.  But given the source – your chums who may be finding it out from a friend of a friend, it’s more incumbent than ever that we do a little more due diligence.  After all, taking anything as gospel – even what you read here – in an age when there are no barriers to the great digital megaphone is shortsighted.  If you really want to know, go find out!

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud

Happy 30th CNN!

Today marks the 30th anniversary of CNN going on the air. It’s hard (OK, impossible if you’re under 35 or so) to think of a time when the news wasn’t 24/7 but until CNN came along, you had to wait for Uncle Walter or Huntley/Brinkley to tell you what had happened on TV.  Maybe you picked up the afternoon paper to see what had happened as late as that morning.
In a strange way, this day 30 years ago sort of marks the start of the world as we know it today. Everything is RIGHT NOW and non-stop and that was CNN from minute one. I remember watching it as it came on the air (it was a Sunday). Ted Turner put it on the air with a sense of global unity – much the same spirit he tried to foster through The Goodwill Games – and there is no question that the world is a smaller place because of the proximity CNN brings to everything (full disclosure – Turner, though not CNN,  is a client).

The notion of the 24/7 news cycle was born on that day and Twitter is just its latest incarnation.  CNN itself has gone through a number of transformations and I think they still do a great job of bringing the news in real-time across a lot of platforms both TV and digital (their inauguration coverage last year across multiple channels was spectacular).  Dissolving borders between nations and between you and information – not a bad way to spend 30 years.

Happy birthday and many more!

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