New Internet study highlights the ongoing fragmentation of news consumption and the rise of social media

New Internet study highlights the ongoing fragmentation of news consumption and the rise of social media

I was extremely sceptical about Rupert Murdoch’s comments last year that “consumers will have to start paying for online news”. In a world where media is fragmenting at an ever increasing rate, his comments struck me as incredibly naive. The beauty of the internet is that it gives people choice. If readers have the option of getting their daily news fix from multiple sources, its unlikely that they’re going to continue to keep a site bookmarked that asks them to pay to get their fix – particularly when much of the news these days seems to originate from one story that is then rereported by other outlets.

I think my views were given additional weight today with the release of the Pew Internet study “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer” that flagged that “more than 90% of Americans were getting their news from multiple sources”. Interestingly, the study also flagged that many people were now also getting their much of their news through social media – either via blogs or referrals from friends and family.

As I flagged previously, against such a background, its important that news organisations understand that they need to tackle ths issue intelligently. Over the longer term I think the winners are going to be niche or genre players – those¬† that focus on addressing specific issues for distinct audiences (e.g. investing for retirement) or those that take a particular ‘angle’ when reporting on stories.

In the latter camp, there are various companies addressing the issue head on. Here in the US you have Fox News – very much playing to the right and other media such as the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” or the “Colbert Report” who are tackling this issue with a mix of comedy and extremely insightful comment. Of course, the interesting thing to note is that Fox News is owned by NewsCorp, which brings us full circle back to Rupert Murdoch. Is his intention to run NewsCorp as lots of “little” fiefdoms with their distinct mandates and approaches? This would afterall, allow for considerable flexibility – if an ‘approach’ or ‘genre’ wasn’t working, companies could be cut loose and sold off to competitors… hmm that’s worth thinking about…

Its only those companies who can tap in to distinct audiences with distinct views or news requirements who are going to have the luxury of charging for content -¬† the rest, well they’re doomed!

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