If the news is that important, it will find me

Welcome to the Bebo generation. If you’re in the news business and the blog post title doesn’t scare you half to death then you’re either fucked or you already knew this and are ready for it. If you are in the news business and you think that statement is moronic then you’re beyond fucked. You’re already dead. The line “If the news is that important, it will find me” comes from a New York times article that created a buzz very recently.

According to interviews and recent surveys, younger voters tend to be not just consumers of news and current events but conduits as well — sending out e-mailed links and videos to friends and their social networks. And in turn, they rely on friends and online connections for news to come to them.

Ms. Buckingham recalled conducting a focus group where one of her subjects, a college student, said, “If the news is that important, it will find me.

I’ve seen a few newspaper people talk over the past few years and listened to some of their private views and they seem to think that people are going to come to them because everyone knows that they’re the people that cover news well. People no longer care who the paper of record is, they’ll listen to a friend or read an email from them about news. They’re the papers of records. As we connect more and more to our friends, they’ll have more and more of that power. Fergal’s blog post about the guffawing of journalists because the Lisbon Refendum Commission decided to advertise on social networks says an awful lot about the disconnect Irish media has with the younger generations:

Feargal Keane reported on RTE Radio 1’s Drivetime that the Lisbon Refendum Commission were spending large amounts of money on advertising on Facebook and Bebo. Keane described the journalistic reaction to this at the press conference as one of guffawing and barely controlled mirth

Photo owned by Sputnik world (cc)

News orgs and everyone else that wants attention will have to be where the crowd is and unfortunately for them it’s not in a newsagents and street corner or on the TV or radio or even on a newspaper’s website. The crowd are always going to be moving now and media orgs and businesses are going to have to be there too.

Here the Indo get it ever so slightly allowing you to use social bookmarks to bookmark stories with Digg, Delicious, Reedit, Google Notebook and Stumble Upon. This is great because people will read what people they’re connected to are reading and these services offer that. (You can subscribe to what people bookmark) Still the numbers that use the above social bookmarking services are tiny compared to the Bebo and Facebook population in Ireland alone. Where’s the integration with those sites? Big fail there from the Indo.

I don’t see integration with Facebook and Bebo either in the upcoming website remake of the Irish Times either. It’ll be social bookmarks and the paywall will come down so it’ll give them an SEO boost, which is great in one way and crap in another as it’s about four years too late for the basics of what the web is doing today. Yes, in case you didn’t know the paywall is coming down.

I think both the Indo and the Irish Times now need to start talking APIs like Reuters are doing and let other people redistribute their content to not just 1000s of people but 1000s of spaces where 1000s people are now congregating. If they were thinking about what to do with the present congregations they’d be doing deals to get into Facebook and Bebo, if they were future gazing they’d be considering at least APIs.

The Paper Boy
Photo owned by from a second story. (cc)

Still they also need to consider Web 1.0 basics too. How many people subscribe by email and get news alerts by email from the Indo or the Times? Getting your presence into the mailbox of someone have having them read you is both powerful and valuable. Where’s the ability on any of the newspaper sites to subscribe by author? Where’s the ability to subscribe by keyword? There’s another step here to be taken though. These news organisations need to become the premier dealer for all news, not just their own. They should be including news from other publications and blogs as well. The Indo again are kind of getting it with keyword underlining in articles that brings you to articles with the same keywords but they need to improve on this. Then of course there’s crowd sourcing of news with the Business Week blog where they ask the public to send in story ideas.

But with the ground staff guffawing at where the people hang around these days and probably the decision makers too, maybe the last man standing will be the group that gets what the future is about and feed their breed of news to that future.

7 Responses to “If the news is that important, it will find me”

  1. Philip says:

    Another great piece, thanks. Thanks also for the advance news of the end of the Irish Times paywall. It was a real pain that was doomed from the start (to re-state the obvious).

  2. Darren says:

    That’s a damn good post. I’m a touch older than the Bebo generation (only a touch) and I have only in the last year or so started reading the Newspaper. I rarely watch the news on TV. Most (almost all) of my news intake comes from online sources, usually from sites that have been recommended to me.

  3. Justin Mason says:

    Great to hear the Irish Times will be lowering their pay-wall — I was on the verge of creating a mash-up which would take an IT story’s lede paragraph and plug it into the Indo’s “search” function, in order to read the full story over on the Indo instead 😉

  4. B'dum B'dum says:

    Here’s the same sort of thing this entry off Shane Hegarty’s blog but not as detailed.

  5. squid says:

    It is pretty much the philosophy I would have when being accused of inequality when writing about politics. why are you writing about party x and not party Y. If party Y want coverage then they need to answer e-mails, phone calls or send us their stuff.

  6. Cian says:

    The “If the news is that important, it will find me” mindset is not something new. It pre-dates Bebo, Facebook and, even, the internet.

    The mindset is also present among newspaper readers — many will hold the view that their choice of newspaper will get all the news that is, in their view, important to them. Which is often not true.

    Good to hear the Irish Times’ pay-wall is coming down.

  7. […] New York Times is getting an API. Remember that Indo and Irish Times. Maybe RTE will beat them both to an API to their news service? […]