Yesterday the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual State of the Media report. Within its 700 pages of information, there is a lot that can be discerned about how the way we communicate is changing – is changing rapidly – and the effect it has on the business of communications. In addition, as mentioned in yesterday's posting, there are implications for health care communications, particularly given the fact that health care's stakeholders are so far behind in figuring out how to operate in a digital media world.
While yesterday the focus was on the quantitative aspect of the shift into new media, today we look at the qualitative aspect. For the first time in this report, Pew provided this sort of analysis focusing on new media. What they found was interesting were some interesting characteristics of the new media environment:
- The stories and issues that win the most attention in blogs and on Twitter differ substantially from the mainstream press;
- Between the two social media platforms, Twitter users strayed the farthest from the mainstream press. Blogs were a bit more traditional, at least in the sources they drew on.
- On both platforms, though, one clear characteristic was the ability of new media to quickly trigger and concentrate passionate debate and activity around a specific issue.
That has important implications. Two quick insights are this.
First, any communications strategy has really got to encompass not only traditional media, but new media as well, because you are not covering the same bases with new media, but you are covering the bases that are increasingly important to people.
Secondly, if one is wanting to move people to action, new media may be a more fruitful endeavor than traditional. While the headline stories that appear in traditional media are one thing, but the stories that move people to action may be residing more heavily in new media. In particular, the third bullet demonstrates the high degree of influence new media has in the development of, and response to, a crisis situation.
The shifts in news consumption highlighted in the Pew report are occurring in an environment that is rapidly moving to enhance the shifts documented in the report. Not only, as mentioned yesterday, is the iPad poised to make use of the Internet more mobile, but the Federal Communications Commission yesterday submitted its plan to expand broadband use and to provide greater depth to use of the Internet.
As Bob Dylan would say, The Times, they are a Changin' - though I'm not sure he meant the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or the Sunday Times.