Econsultancy published an interesting blog post recently asking what the future of journalism really depended on.
Patricia Robles asks:
“if journalism is to have a solid foundation to stand on going forward, asking the simple question ‘What do consumers want?‘ may provide the answer to everything else.”
I’ve blogged on numerous occasions about the future of journalism and personally don’t hold much hope for the model as we see it at the moment. But if there is to be any chance of survival, it will depend on exactly what Patricia identifies above: What do consumers want
In a sense, ‘traditional’ here-today-gone-tomorrow news holds little inherent value for the consumer/reader, media outlet or the business featured.
And its this ‘value exchange’ that is so important, especially with the rise prominence of social media. Social networks, blogs, viral marketing all depend on one thing: the exchange, sharing or distribution of ‘value’ as seen by the distributor/sharer and the recipient.
In the ‘old days’, value was determined by editors and journalists and there were (and still are) practical reasons for this. The internet has moved the goalposts.
But this isn’t a bad thing. This new distribution model (because that is what social networks essentially are or can be) has boundless opportunity for media organisations. Look at professional blog site Econsultancy. It has embraced Twitter and is now receiving substantial traffic from it.
And just today, we learn that the Telegraph is now receiving around 8% of its traffic from social networks. The Guardian too is using these new networks to its benefit, with Guardian Tech now approaching a half million follower base on Twitter.
This success is all dependent on producing ‘value’. Online, we are less inclined to view media organisations as ‘brands’. Whilst offline, we will buy a paper or a magazine and read through the substantial amount of content contained within. We don’t consume in the same way on the web. We look at individual articles or pieces of content, often accessed through third party sites (think Google news, RSS feeds, social sources etc.).
Value is increasingly attributed via social means (through friends, followers or recommendations) rather than an affinity to a certain source (“I’m a Times reader”).
So what does this mean for the media? They have to work harder to make their content valuable. To make it something that enough people want to share.
And much of this lies in its uniqueness. If I have two million articles about swine flu, which one do I choose to read? Possibly I’ll go to my favourite website, social network or to Google. Either way, the odds are far more heavily stacked against media organisations online than they were offline.
Which is why having something new or interesting to say is important.
And this is an important aspect for PRs and marketers to remember, both when constructing their own online content and when attempting to influence the traditional media.