The modern method of delivering media to the masses has undoubtedly become digital. The large-scale adoption of e-readers and tablets means big business for digital print. Can traditional distributors keep up with the new high level adoption or are we going to see a scrap by outsiders in gaining market share before print companies get hold of the modern age of digital media?
News is undoubtedly one of the World’s most wide spread forms of print in society. However, online news now generates more revenue than printed articles. With the age of the smartphone, consumers are increasingly beginning to exchange their subscription in a printed form in favour of a digital version.
However, it is not just the platform of news delivery that is changing, but also the channel. Step forward social . Commuters are more likely to receive breaking news via Twitter feeds and Facebook updates than via the daily paper, regardless of whether it’s printed on paper or downloaded on an iPad.
Let’s take the recent death of singer Whitney Houston, for example. Within the first hour of her death, over 2.5 million people tweeted about the tragic story, averaging about 1,000 tweets per second. The traditional news outlet would not go live about such a story without proper verification (sanity checks), which took time. By the time those outlets felt confident to go public, the story was “old news” to the two and a half million who’d already heard the news: an entire 42 minutes “old”, in fact. Twitter was indisputably the first one to the finish line.
The rush to be first and the immediacy that social media offers, is a heady combination and not without pitfalls. Sadly, the Whitney story was true but a recent study indicated that 50% of received news via social media turns out to be inaccurate. The question of liability also arises. Newspapers are bound by strict rules and editors can choose to ‘publish and be damned’ but control of social media is much looser. The recent naming of a rape victim on Twitter and the erroneous tweet by Spike Lee, giving the address of an elderly couple instead of the man who shot teenager Trayvon Martin, both demonstrate the danger of lawless tweeting. By the way, what would have happened if the correct address of the accused had been published – twitmob justice? That’s a whole new debate.
In the general sense, we still rely on traditional media for our fact finding missions, we still cross-reference what we have seen on social media to that of the large media corporations for corroboration. But we still pass on this information come-what-may and this seemingly unstoppable social networking machine churns on. Could this be used to someone’s advantage?
The demand for news has not gone away. The methods of its delivery are increasingly digital. The channels used are constantly evolving. So in the end who and in what form will win out the majority of the news and print market share? What forms of media will jump from strength to strength and which will fade into the obscurity that is last weeks news?
Nonetheless, it’s all good news for the apps. If you can connect to the source, you engage to the user.