Looking Ahead at 2012
The ball has dropped, and 2011 left us in a flurry of Tweets, Facebook Likes and blog posts. Those in the media realm have moved into 2012 with their heads spinning and with enthusiasm about what the year ahead will bring.
In the CisionNavigator 2011 media forecast article we talked about how there would be a push to monetize digital and hyperlocal news sites, and addressed the growing popularity of branded journalists. While these same trends will continue in 2012, a need has grown for ways to interpret the huge amounts of information consumers are, well, consuming. Digital journalism, while timely, is prey to mistakes, and publishing before getting the facts straight and not doing the legwork to find a different perspective can turn people away. Gaining loyalty and trust in such a diverse media landscape can be a challenge.
“While the digital world offers enormous promise, original reporting often seems to fall to the wayside when news organizations or bloggers simply replicate versions of the same story,” said Jeff Mangum, senior vice president of communications powerhouse Hill & Knowlton Strategies. “Even if content is being delivered on sophisticated platforms, solid coverage about any topic requires old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting – tracking down original sources and following various paper trails.”
On the other side of that is the impact consumers have on the media they choose to follow. No longer do we simply watch the news or read a newspaper—this is the age of sharing information.
“Because our media now makes decisions in real-time based on the smallest levels of feedback we provide—our taps, clicks and scrolls—the impact of what we choose to read doesn’t just impact ourselves and our own capacity to get the facts,” said Clay Johnson, author of The Information Diet. “Our choices also make decisions for others.”
These days, consumers regularly email, re-tweet and post to Facebook stories they like, or information they think others will find interesting. Social media sites such as GetGlue are on the increase, allowing users to instantly “check in” to programs they like on TV, while live-chatting with others. The challenge for the future is learning to sift through the “noise,” Johnson said.
“Consumers ought to try and consume lower on the information food chain in 2012,” he said. “Consume more of the stuff that’s relevant to you and your life. Start local, both in your local community, and with your closest friends.”
One way consumers are organizing the things they share is on sites like Pinterest, which works as an online pinboard for products and trends, and Quara’s Boards, which allow users to post ideas and get conversations started. Applications like these take the “Like” button beyond Facebook and allow people to connect in new ways.
Another trend that will continue to grow exponentially in the coming months is mobile media and apps. Mangum cited the Pew Research Center’s 2011 State of the News Media, which reported that “the new wild card in digital is mobile.”
“Continue to keep an eye on the digital universe and news delivery on mobile devices,” Mangum said. “According to Pew’s research, just seven percent of Americans owned electronic tablets as of January 2011, and the figure had grown to 11 percent by October. As usage grows, it will have all kinds of ramifications for consumers and news providers alike.”
For news media outlets, that may mean a continued decrease in traditional reporting or print writing, but a push to innovate newsrooms into the mobile atmosphere. Many print organizations have made the change to go digital, but they will need to continue to transform to keep up with mobile demand.
“As a long-time rail commuter into Manhattan, I can tell you that seemingly within just the past year there has been an exponential increase in the number of commuters now reading The Wall Street Journal digitally,” Mangum said. “There used to be a lot of elbow-bumping as people perused the ‘old trees’ version of publications, and you don’t see as much of that today.”
As technology is allowing for a thinner and thinner line between consumers and the media, Mangum says he is excited about what the future holds.
“Look for even more apps,” he said. “Some very interesting people are doing some very interesting things when it comes to developing cutting-edge digital applications for news and everything else.”
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