Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility
Late this afternoon, Mashable posted a story by staff writer Lauren Indvik noting that “a huge gap remains between mainstream media and the social web.”
Quoting a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, she notes that the largest area of alignment is between traditional newspapers and websites that also report on the news. Bloggers, she said, tend to focus on emotionally charged topics such as health care or Facebook privacy.
She also notes that while bloggers regularly cite traditional news outlets as their source (almost half cite US newspapers), the reverse is rarely true: traditional papers almost never cite their news as coming from the online community.
Another important observation: different social media report on different topics. Blogs tend to report on news, Twitter users tend to report on technology, and YouTube vlogs tend to report on politics and foreign events.
All of this echoes a report many months ago by Silicon Valley Watcher Tom Foremski, who observed that each social media platform has its own audiences with their own expectations about what should be delivered to that platform. Facebook, he noted, is where personal conversations take place. Twitter is more for dynamic, which makes it a good place for breaking events.
In any case, I think there’s another important observation to be made: Newspapers are not going away.
In an editorial today, Margaret Sullivan of the Buffalo (NY) News notes that despite the dire predictions one year ago, very few US newspapers have actually gone out of business.
“Of the roughly 1,400 American dailies, 11 have gone out of business in the past two years, well under one percent,” she writes. “And among those that did fold, a number were in cities with more than one major paper.” Such titles included the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Further, she noted, newspaper profit margins, after falling for many years, may actually improve this year, according to a new J.P. Morgan analysis, as revenue declines moderate and newspaper companies reap the results of cost-cutting.
“That’s not to say all is rosy in newspaper land,” she notes. “Advertising revenue is down. Print circulation is, too – with the problem especially acute among the young.”
But, she says, “newspapers still have a lot going for them. As sources of news and information, especially in the role of government watchdogs, they continue to outshine Web and broadcast outlets.”
All of which supports the research noted by Mashable.
So while Mashable’s Indvik concludes that “if traditional news companies want to succeed online — that is, if they want to attract a large number of page views and be relevant to users on the web — they may need to alter their content to match readers’ interests,” I’m not so sure.
“Newspapers continue to be the best source for news and enterprise journalism,” said Sullivan. “We remain committed to investigative and rigorous reporting.”