Sunday, April 20, 2008

Here's The News, Pass It On

I like reading newspapers - though I only read the paper versions at the weekend. There's a tactile pleasure in spreading out The Irish Times or Sunday Business Post on the kitchen table and browsing through them with a cup of coffee in hand.

But the thought struck me this morning that I probably only read 10-15% of what's in the newspaper - less if I'm reading it online. On the other hand, I read about a dozen or more blogs every day - and I probably read 75-85% of the posts on those blogs. So in a way I get more 'relevance value' from the free blogs than from the paid for newspapers. But not obviously the tactile pleasure.

There's something really interesting happening to the definition of news - which isn't really news since the newspaper itself is a relatively new invention, as described in a fascinating post by the brilliant Marc Andreessen (writing in his blog, of course). Jeff Jarvis, who writes both a blog and for The Guardian newspaper, talks about the emerging 'press-sphere' in which a new 'news process' is emerging, as illustrated in the graphic.

Jarvis describes an emerging mediascape in which the news is an iterative process, co-created by journalists, media houses, bloggers and lastly, but by no means least, news consumers themselves. We are seeing this ably demonstrated by the use of web 2.0 tactics by the candidates in the US elections (which I've mentioned before). Writing in the New York Times (yes, a newspaper) Brian Stelter gives a fascinating example of the way in which news consumers are now actively engaged in the news dissemination process:
Senator Barack Obama's videotaped response to President Bush’s final State of the Union Address — almost five minutes of Mr. Obama’s talking directly to the camera — elicited little attention from newspaper and television reporters in January. But on the medium it was made for, the Internet, the video caught fire. Quickly after it was posted on YouTube, it appeared on the video-sharing site’s most popular list and Google's most blogged list. It has been viewed more than 1.3 million times, been linked by more than 500 blogs and distributed widely on social networking sites like Facebook.
Young people are in thick of this naturally. There attitude can best be described as If the News Is That Important It Will Find Me. The folk running newspapers know all this of course. I know they know because I work with some of them. Newspapers, and news broadcasters in general, are well used to change and to responding to shifting consumer requirements (including the requirement to participate in interpreting the news). So I have no doubt they will be respond to the changes now under way - and that ultimately the 'value relevance' of my newspapers will actually go up rather than down. Regardless of the tactile stuff.

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