Friday, October 21, 2011
What's the news?
Back when I was in news, we paid several consultants a handsome sum each to come in and assess our operation and offer suggestions on improvements. I remember one in particular telling us about the important role of the station website in delivering the news. He challenged us to even break stories on the website, not on the air.
Of course, his audience wasn't highly receptive. About half of us were good-looking young people for whom part of the thrill of the news biz still lay in that red light going on above the camera. The other half were aging veterans who had no use for fads.
And then the world changed. The video above does a nice job describing the shift. I still believe we saw the first clear example of it several years ago during the uprising in Iran, which I blogged about over at Feeling Fuller. But the shift was probably underway a couple years before that even.
Increased choice has always benefited the consumer, often to the detriment of institutionalized industries. The growing preference for non-traditional media as a news source is not an indictment of the traditional raison d'etre or even necessarily their processes. It is, however, an indictment of the relevance of their content.
Relevance has always been one of the key contributors to a successful news story, but until recently, its arbiters have been exclusively in front of a camera or at an editor's desk. That's no longer the case. Today, we the people decide what we want to consume and when we want to consume it.
That's a truth that applies not just to news, but any type of content sharing enterprise, including marketing and public relations. Irrelevance will no longer be tolerated. It's up to each of us professing to be communicators to whittle and hone our messages as finely as possible, or the exercise won't be worth undertaking at all.