fbpx

Internet takes over papers as news source


I always get into trouble for these types of posts. Something about me hating newspapers (I don’t), promoting blogger vs journos war (I’m not). But hey ho. *dons flak jacket*

Here I am using my two unread newspapers as a thick place mat for my Christmas Eve Chinese lunch, and what should cross my desk: a new Pew study showing that the Internet has surpassed newspapers as Americans’ main source for national and international news.

How appropriate–albeit a little sad for this ol’ school journalist who still romanticizes about the days when you could truly stop the presses.

Anyone notice how much Twitter has been in the news lately? o.O The ‘breaking news source’ according to one Brit newspaper. CNN had this to say:

The minute news broke of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India, social media sites like Twitter were inundated with a huge volume of messages.

With more than 6 million members worldwide, an estimated 80 messages, or “tweets,” were being sent to Twitter.com via SMS every five seconds, providing eyewitness accounts and updates.

Intriguing that they don’t point out that most of us get our breaking news from friends. Unless you have the TV or radio on all day…?

Naughty Matthew Ingram puts some perspective on the ‘social breaking news’ phenomenon. I’m still not speaking to him – heh – but it’s a good piece.

Remember, 71% of Australians don’t trust the printed word. Many more trust online news. And the Pew study confirm that 2008 was the year that that view went global.

I don’t make the news, I just report it. Other people make the news. Though of course, they could report it themselves. heh. But it’s all got a bit boring – I mean, I could keep blogging the print media demise. Number of newspapers closing, journalists being laid off, statistics and reports, diminished trust, diminished revenue, Citizen Rupert speeches, but there are those who insist we’re making it up, to propagate some kind of blogger war. Why ‘massive drop in newspaper ad revenue’ equals ‘WTF OMG you bloggers hate mainstream media’ I don’t know.

Ah well. Merry Christmas!

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

22 thoughts on “Internet takes over papers as news source

  1. sad but true. Its a dangerous wold when w rely on social media for our news and sources of information.

    Social media is a little like post-modern art. It takes someone elses thoughts, strips them of their context and passes them on in a new stripped down and slightly twisted fashion (think Andy W’s soup can).

    Unfortunately the price we all pay for a narcisstic generation each claiming their 15 minutes is a news service without independence, objectivity, or a wider framework.

    I for one hope that professional journalism finds a way to prosper in the new social media landscape.

  2. *amused* not sure I understand – are you saying you don’t trust your social network (family, friends, leaders, contacts) to bring you trustworthy news? Should you perhaps improve the quality of your connections online?

    Or are you saying you trust TV and newspapers to bring you unbiased reporting rather than the person on the ground experiencing it. And is that what you want – reports devoid of personal stories?

    Do you put all social media in one basket – strangers that you don’t know that Twitter alongside @kevinruddPM and @turnbullMalcolm and @lancearmstrong. Or do you connect to trustworthy sources only?

    Given that – unless a journo starts the war or shoots someone – traditional journalism is reporting real people’s news, is it possible that someone may talk to a journalist then go home to Facebook or Twitter or blog their experience? Does it stop being news when they do that?

    Just trying to understand what additional value a journalist brings to the table, you see 🙂

  3. Few points, Laurel:

    – Readers are migrating to the web but they are largely still getting their news from mainstream sources, particularly in Australia.

    – The main revenue problem for newspapers is that while they’re reaching more people than ever before with the web + print editions, the classified revenue being lost from the printed product is more than the gain in online advertising. It’s got nothing to do with the actual journalism.

    – Twitter isn’t a news source but it’s useful for finding primary accounts of disasters and terrorist attacks and some consumer gripes. But that’s about the only facet of news it covers. It doesn’t touch politics, uncover corruption or cover the city’s news like a newspaper does.

    – Most chatter on social media about news is based on mainstream news items.

    – If you think newspaper articles are “devoid of personal stories” you are more out of touch than I thought.

    But the main point I wanted to raise is that your income is derived from singing the virtues of social media. Of course you delight in the failure of newspapers.

    The sad part is that while social media evangelists like you deride the mainstream media and urge on its demise, you will surely be worse off by the shrinking newsroom

    Social media is great for finding a diverse array of views and new voices but it’s no replacement for the deep, tireless reporting a fully staffed newsroom provides.

  4. Asher, Asher, Asher, a good proportion of my clients ARE traditional media outlets. Do some research kiddo – I have no problem in advising them on how to integrate – and it IS a sad day when good journalism dies. I don’t include you in that group by the way – your rehash of any negative social networking news is bad news for everyone. Unless you can point me to an article where you didn’t write about waste of time Facebook, dying Second Life or inaccuracies of social media?

    Given that we’ve already had the discussion re: you taking blog articles and rewriting them (with comments as ‘quotes’) as SMH pieces, let’s leave trustworthy news reports out of this discussion hmmm?

    And it’s not me that doesn’t trust newspapers – I believe everyword I read. It’s 85% of Australians.

    Media Bias
    A large 85% (down 1% since September 2004) of Australians believe that Newspaper journalists are often biased,
    74% (up 1%) believe TV reporters are often biased and 69% (down 6%) believe that Talk-back radio announcers are often biased.

    The only form of mainstream media to escape the condemnation of the majority (and only just) is theInternet – 49% (up 8%) of Australians believe Internet sites are often biased. Roy Morgan

    By the way young Moses, point me to your blog? You delight in leaving comments on here, so I’d love to return the compliment sometime.

    And if one day you write an article about social media breaking a story first, to the benefit of all, or how a virtual world brought pleasure to a dying woman or how Facebook helped someone contact their long lost family, I’ll happily link to you and give you all the link love I can raise. But you better send it to me, cos I don’t read you anymore 😛 In the meantime, don’t lecture to me about negativity, hon.

    Anyway, what are you doing, perusing social media sites on Boxing Day? Go out, get some fresh air, have an icecream. Before I get really cross with you. Shoo!

  5. Hey Laurel,

    good article. You are the greatest, and they hate it 🙂

    With all the “product placements” and political bias, is there any reason that a normal sane person would trust mainstream media as their sole source of information?

    Do an experiment… watch the Channel 9 news from 6-6.30 any weeknight, and then switch over to SBS… most of the time you would have to wonder if they are on the same planet, let alone in the same country reporting the same news. The subjectivity is astounding.

    I do switch on the news when something big is happening – but I would count myself a fool if I relied on it as my sole source of news about the outside world.

    Best regards, Andrew

  6. Laurel, you only look for the negative stories to reinforce your views about mainstream media hating social media.

    Two positive social media stories i’ve written in the last few weeks:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/web/mumbai-attacks-live-on-twitter-flickr/2008/11/27/1227491713487.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/texting-turnbull-catches-the-twitter-bug/2008/12/09/1228584801900.html

    OK, off to the pub. Merry Xmas.

  7. As the editor of a regional newspaper, that graph doesn’t bother me at all.

    Regional papers will remain the best source of local news, especially if we own the web space as well.

  8. Nobody would have predicted that this trend would happen so quickly. I used to read the Australian on a Saturday. Now I have browsed it online before my wife, who still loves to go through the whole paper on a Saturday morning.

    I do miss that tactile feeling, but it is just normal to browse around and pick up on anything that interests me.

    Merry Christmas, you Ho Ho Ho Seasonal Addict. What do you do for fun now that Christmas is over?

  9. @Asher o.O really nice articles – are you sure you wrote them? Heh. Have another shandy on me.

    @classifieds ad spam guy: you are totally deleted.

    @countryeditor true. While OurPatch and similar communities online for local areas will eventually bring social ads to your space, you are less vulnerable than most in the print industry. At the moment, anyway.

    @greenporridge Colin, why it’s only 364 more shopping days til next Christmas. better get a move on 🙂

  10. Fascinating that people currently trust online more than print – I guess they haven’t twigged that online newspapers come from the same room as the printed ones!

    Pew’s graph is not automatically the death knell of papers (they went up 1% for a start). Let’s think about it – the bottom two lines are a shuffle between departments for a lot of news organisations. When they get their integrated newsrooms rolling the landscape might look a bit less frightening.

    That, or people really will successfully ad-block their way to having no reputable news sources. Frankly I don’t want my news from unverified tweets and blogs! I hear from friends that things are happening, but that’s the cue to go to a trusted news source for details. I don’t just read tweets and leave it at that – I doubt anyone does really.

    Social media (currently) alerts but doesn’t inform. It’s very good at it too, it’s taking over TV’s role in that sense.

  11. I’m not sure that surveying public trust in various forms of media offers much illumination.

    Take News Ltd, for instance. On face value, those Roy Morgan stats you quote might imply that if a journalist on, say, The Telegraph, writes a story, and it is printed, 85% of people won’t trust it.

    That very same story will also be simultaneously uploaded to news.com, where, apparently, only 49% of those very same people will distrust it.

    I think that may say more about the people surveyed than the media.

  12. @200k you don’t really believe that the news your social network brings you is untrustworthy do you? I mean, you do assess what you are reading and where… @kevinruddPM has a particular angle, whirlpool.net.au has another, nowwearetalking.com.au has another. I will say things one way, Tim Burrowes (mumbrella) another. You can trust if you know the context of your relationship with the blogger/tweeter no? I don’t trust news from strangers on the street, but I will gradually figure out who’s tweets are worth something to me…

    @tim yeppers that is bizarre. Not sure what accounts for the difference? Maybe quantity? Newspaper news tends to be edited/shorter no?

  13. Here’s an interesting stat from a big study TNS released earlier this month.

    The most trusted source of information and news? Your friends (42%). Next? Television (41%). Last? Blogs – 10%.

  14. I do trust my own personal social network, but as it turns out none of them happened to be in Mumbai when the attacks occurred (just as a for instance). So unless all news happens directly to people I have in my network, I have to go to another source for the actual news.

    I get alerted to news by my social network, but most of the time that doesn’t make it a “source”.

  15. My social network gave me the names of citizen journalists/bloggers, and Flickr photographers. They gave me links. I checked them out, made a call on trustworthiness.

    Most of those contacts/links appeared the next day in the news paper. Where did the journo’s get them from? Well, they asked on Twitter. SMH, Triple J etc.

    Don’t trust social media, yet use it as source. There’s something profoundly hypocritical ’bout people who do that, don’t you think?

  16. My social network gave me the names of citizen journalists/bloggers, and Flickr photographers. They gave me links. I checked them out, made a call on trustworthiness.

    Do you reckon the average punter even has the time and inclination to ‘make calls about trustworthiness’? …and do you think either one of us really has a social network which reflects the average punter’s social network for this particular scenario? 🙂

    Anyway.. sure, if I’d been given links to unknowns, I’d have made a call on trustworthiness – most likely I’d decide ‘probably true, but let’s cross reference with known outlets’. If known media subsequently reported the same facts from different sources, then the unknown is probably legit. But it’s very hard to make much more than a gut-feeling call based on a website.

    As it happens my social network gave me links to known news outlets, where I didn’t need to spend time working out if the source was trustworthy (given my social network that’s not particularly surprising of course).

    Most of those contacts/links appeared the next day in the news paper. Where did the journo’s get them from? Well, they asked on Twitter. SMH, Triple J etc.

    That’s journos using their social network to do research, make contacts and generate leads (which journos have always done, it’s just an electronic version of their contacts book).

    That’s not punters using Twitter as a news source. The punters ultimately got the news from the journos.

    In any case, what are you doing reading the newspaper if you got it all online? 😛

    Don’t trust social media, yet use it as source. There’s something profoundly hypocritical ’bout people who do that, don’t you think?

    Who, exactly, are you saying did that?

    Anyway of course they’re going to use it as a source if they feel they can verify the information. Never said you couldn’t use social networks to contact people. I just said I don’t use social networks as a media outlet.

  17. “I don’t use social networks as a media outlet”

    heh you must be the only person since cave man days that has never had news brought to him by a friend/family.

    Hmm why don’t you? Let’s look at the different side of news – I’d really like to know what parts you will/won’t accept from citizen journalism.

    BREAKING NEWS – have you never had a friend call with news? Not even ‘turn on the TV, buy the paper’? Has news never been broken to you by your community/social network?
    STORIES – have you never read a news story on a blog? What about Nick HaC citizen journalist bustup with the police?
    RESEARCH – ever read a story online somewhere and wikipedia’d it? Found the original source – someone on the spot, taking photos. Or can’t be bothered?

    I guess that is one thing with reading papers – they tell you what is news (and miss out what is not), what to think is important, do your research for you, bring it to you. And some people will continue to want that in paper form or TV for some time to come. But there’s a new generation that may not… can you see that?

    Online, these channels are adapting, some better than others. But the daily miracle with linear content is passed it’s prime. And saying you don’t accept news from citizen journalism, friends and family doesn’t make it not so. Helping companies adapt is more useful than head in the sand hon 🙂

    By the way, yet another Twitter press conference

  18. OK. I think we’re mostly arguing over terminology here.

    I think you’re ignoring the distinction I’m making between a news source and a news alert. A news alert is when something tells you “news is happening, go check it out”. A news source tells you what’s actually happening. I’m talking about news sources. I’m also talking about hard news.

    I suspect you’re lumping the whole lot into “news sources” in which case we agree violently about most of this 😉

    My issues with social media as a source – as in, direct news source – really boil down to trust. How can you trust a blog/tweet/etc? How do you verify that they’re legit and not making up a load of crap? How do you know what their spin is? How, in essence, do you know that they really are on the spot reporting from the war zone; as opposed to sitting in a quiet suburb smoking crack and making shit up?

    The big media outlets bring their own issues; but at least you know they’re a real live organisation with people who get paid to report the news. They’re a company that can be identified quite easily and sued if they really stuff up.

    Anyway… you asked…

    BREAKING NEWS Yes I get alerted to news by people I know, I’ve said so a couple of times now.

    Very very rarely a friend will directly report something they’ve actually seen – in that case, sure, they’re a news source 🙂

    STORIES No I don’t go to blogs for hard news.

    What I get from blogs: soft news (where trust is not a big issue), professional news (mostly from people I’ve met) and links to news (I have some friends who are excellent editors). Like I said, terminology 🙂

    RESEARCH Research isn’t news in the sense I’m talking about. But sure, I’ve read up on backgrounds to stories.

    No I don’t tend to look directly for people on the spot, mostly because I don’t have time or a burning need to do so. Unless there’s a very high profile flickr feed or something, or if I’m *really* motivated, I’m not going to start searching for that on spec. I could spend a lot of time looking for something that’s not there. Then I could have the whole “is it for real” issue to sort out.

    I guess that is one thing with reading papers – they tell you what is news (and miss out what is not), what to think is important, do your research for you, bring it to you. And some people will continue to want that in paper form or TV for some time to come.

    You seem to be talking about journalism and delivery channels interchangeably. Filtering, reseach, reporting – that’s nothing to do with how it’s then delivered.

    But there’s a new generation that may not… can you see that?

    Are you saying there’s a generation that doesn’t want their news on dead trees (which is pretty clear), or are you saying there’s a generation that doesn’t want journalists at all?

    If you’re purely talking about the end of print’s heyday, of course I see that. Print’s not dead and not going to disappear, but its role will certainly change.

    But I’m really talking about people wanting journalists – trained news reporters – to do precisely what you describe (filter, report), then publish it on a website; then on whatever replaces websites; ad nauseum.

    I’m also curious – do you really not trust journalists? Do you really object to their existence? And what do you think of bloggers who gain a high enough profile to occupy the same space journalists occupy right now?

  19. hmm no it’s not really semantics. Most newspapers are distribution channels only. Lot’s of press releases out there marked “news” 🙂
    Reporters are news gatherers, mostly. I can read the newspaper or I can go to an original source.

    There’s a lot of romance about journalists being Pulitzer prize winning researchers and authors. That’s fiction kiddo 🙂

    And no, I don’t think our news is trustworthy in the way that you mean. I do think it needs to be held accountable, adn bloggers do that.

  20. “There’s a lot of romance about journalists being Pulitzer prize winning researchers and authors. That’s fiction kiddo :)”

    That’s just idiotic!

  21. I’m married to a journalist and as a result have met a few and I have to say that the work of a skilled trained journalist is generally better than the work of the average blogger. Also I think the definition of news is quite broad. At www.ourpatch.com.au it’s the country race meeting at Gilgandra and the wedding in Byron Bay for others it’s the issues of state and national government or perhaps international issues. Not all of this needs to be prize winning it’s just about reporting the news. Breaking stories and investigative pieces are quite rare.

    I think Rupert Murdoch was right in his original speech to staff about the internet. What he said was it’s hard to produce quality content day in, day out. The job of delivering content to a specific target market with a specific voice is actually really hard. Social media in my opinion is like CB radio and for the most part does a pretty poor job of reporting the news in a consistent reliable manner. This does not mean traditional media will survive the changes unscathed. Most of us posting to this blog are all from an extremely thin layer of the population. The fact the 6.30 tabloid news shows still rate is an indication that the average punter is not really too discriminating about the integrity of the news.

    The argument is about the channel to market. There are two pressures on the existing news providers. The first is we just have access to more. I read somewhere that more Americans read the Guardian than the New York Times. The second is the change in delivery channel. There is no doubt the channel will be IP based.

    So I don’t think social media replaces the skills of trained journalists but the long term future for news will be IP based and quite different to what we have today.

    Actually I’m also not sure why this is such an emotive issue. We’re all guessing and who really cares. The power of the internet will ensure we’re all looked after is one way or another – if there is a market someone will deliver to that market.

Comments are closed.

Recent Content