Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Participatory News Consumer...

The Pew Research Center released a report earlier this week that's getting a lot of buzz, not only online, but also on CNN and in other major media outlets.

Here are some fascinating statistics revealed by the study about the changing habits of "news consumers"...

  • 92% of Americans now use multiple platforms to get their daily news.

  • The internet is now the third most-popular news platform, behind local and national television news and ahead of national print newspapers, local print newspapers and radio.

  • "The internet and mobile technologies are at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing. In today’s new multi-platform media environment, news is becoming portable, personalized, and participatory":

    • Portable: 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.

    • Personalized: 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.

    • Participatory: 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

  • People are using their online social networks to "filter, assess, and react to news. And they use traditional email and other tools to swap stories and comment on them. Among those who get news online, 75% get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52% share links to news with others via those means."

These stats are being read a number of ways. The business world is agog over the rapidly rising percentage of people who get their news through their cell phones. Jim Cramer immediately cited this as reason to buy more stock in Apple and Research In Motion (Blackberry's creator). Others have taken these stats to further bemoan the impending death of traditional newspapers.

What's most interesting to me, though, are the last few revelations about the role of social-networking sites. According to this report, people actually are using MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter to swap news stories with each other, and to comment on them. The fact that 37% of people have "contributed to the creation of news" on such sites really does indicate a shift towards "participatory journalism". We're not just passive consumers of the news anymore; we're active producers.

And you thought everyone was just stalking each other's photos.


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