Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Social Media Icing On Old Media Cake

The social media do appear to be saving old media. For now.

According to the Pew Research Centre's New Media Index, 99% of stories linked to in blogs during the year to January 15, 2010 came from "legacy outlets such as newspapers and broadcast networks. And... the BBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post accounted for fully 80% of all links."

Of course, while you may be reading a blog that links to an 'old media' story, that doesn't necessarily mean you've bothered to read that story. And every minute you spend reading the blog is time you don't spend engaging directly with 'old media'. Yet the social media are a source of both links and evidence of what resonates with readers.

So the old media may still be baking the cake, but the social media are supplying the icing. And who likes cake without icing? [That's enough analogy now. Ed.]

The reason this dynamic may not last is that the old media seem to be ignoring the stories that resonate most amongst the social media. Pew found that "the social media tend to home in on stories that get much less attention in the mainstream press. And there is little evidence, at least [in the year to 15 January 2010] of the traditional press then picking up on those stories in response."

In fact, you might conclude from Pew's table above that the mainstream press ignored the scale of reader demand for news on politics, foreign events, science, technology, the environment, pop culture, 'oddball', gay issues, consumer news and education. And it's worth noting that news related to "gardening, sports or other hobbies" was not tracked.

It would be interesting to see whether this imbalance is rectified in the coming year. But if it is not, I wonder whether old media will find itself permanently losing readership in these areas?

If so, no more cake!

Image from Petit Pois
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