How social media is both helping and hindering the news industry
The internet has long posed a threat to traditional news sources. Newspapers and news broadcasts no longer fit in a world of on-demand content consumption, and people are more likely to hear about a news story from their friends online than they are directly from the people paid to provide it.
According to a new Pew report, ‘The State of News Media 2013’, 15% of adults and 25% of young people first hear about a news story on social networks, accounting perhaps for the drop in under-30s that watch news broadcasts – from 46% in 2006 to 28% in 2012.
Furthermore, the study shows that 31% of adults owned a tablet as of 2013; four times as many as in May 2011. The same amount say they’re now spending more time on news online, while 43% say they’re now increasing the amount of news they consume.
And with Facebook revamping feeds to allow users to create their own personalized ‘news pages’, it’s clear that the news culture landscape is shifting.
One of the report’s key findings is that 31% of respondents say they’ve abandoned traditional news sources due to a lack of quality content, so while social news sharing presents a raft of challenges for newsrooms, they’re not necessarily negative: this perceived decline in quality presents an opportunity for online media sources to step in and fill the gap.
And previously-held conceptions about revenue are going unfounded, too. Everyone baulked when The Times and The New York Times introduced paywalls, but the latter earned more with paid subscriptions and purchases than advertising revenues. Such is the appetite for good quality news on demand that 450 of 1,380 US dailies have started or announced plans for some kind of paid online plan.
So is social media killing traditional news? Yes, but it’s also giving it an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent itself. News providers must embrace the enormous sharing power of channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and the demands of the Now Generation, to ensure their news stays new, and not left on the shelf.