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According to a new Pew Internet and American Life Project report, local TV news is still the go-to source for weather, traffic and breaking news. But people are looking elsewhere for other information, often using their phones.
How the Internet has revolutionized the way messages are delivered was the focus of this year’s Activism + Media + Policy, or “AMP” Summit held last month in Washington, D.C.
Andy Eller is the Director of Business Development at place-sharing site, Gowalla. In a panel presentation, he told AMP attendees he gets all his news from Twitter because it’s unfiltered and current. Twitter’s own Adam Sharp then took the opportunity to mention that tweets about an earthquake hit New York before the actual tremors did.
In his AMP remarks, CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller says he likes writing news on Twitter “because it doesn’t have to go through a copy editor.” Twitter, he continued, is like “having my own personal wire service” – on which he has churned out 40,000 tweets in two years.
Yet, despite the growing popularity of micro-blogs, people today rely on many information platforms, some of which aren’t so new. For instance, the Pew report shows that young adults often get their news by word of mouth. Kelly Wallace is Chief Correspondent for iVillage, the largest content-driven community for women on the web. She says iVillagers prefer message boards so they can anonymously share personal information.
Veteran print journalist Howard Fineman gave the AMP sendoff message. A year ago, Fineman leaped from Newsweek to become Editorial Director of Huffington Post Media Group. Although his former and new office buildings are located so close he didn’t have to change Starbucks, Fineman says he did change ”his entire outlook on everything.”
Fineman calls HuffPost “a combination of news site and social networking site,” which he’s convinced is where news is going. These are his reasons why:
- We live in a news community that is omni-directional. Unlike the days of Walter Cronkite, when viewers hung on his every word, communications are no longer one-way. Now anyone can join – and sometimes direct – the news conversation.
- News is no longer a mass discussion. News sources can now speak discretely to individuals. At present, Huffington Post has 30 different vertical content sections. The Politics page often draws more traffic than the site’s front page.
- News today is constant and immediate, not periodic and episodic. There used to be two news cycles. Now there is only one – and it happens 24/7.
- The distinction between global and local has disappeared. The Arab Spring was experienced by people worldwide in present tense. As Fineman says, “We were all there in Tahrir Square.”
- Old-style, long narratives are gone. Shorter and live are what work today, preferably mixed with video and pictures.
- There’s no more pyramid of authority. The days of the hard-bitten, all-controlling executive editor have passed. With little or no editorial oversight, many writers now monitor and judge the content of their own messages.
- The media is more openly ideological. News curators unabashedly admit the biases they bring to the table. Transparency is the new objectivity.
So, it makes sense that the online society is seeking out a variety of news platforms. Many of us likely share Fineman’s final thought: “you shouldn’t assume any one source of authority is the only one to look at.”
If you ever hear or see anything about William Shatner’s Shatner Rules, do not attempt to avoid it. You will be powerless to resist the book’s black-hole-like magnetism and relentless cross-promotion.
Shatner Rules caught me with something called a “Klout Perk”. As someone who spends too much time on Twitter, I received a peppy little email asking if I’d like a free book about the “Shatnerverse.” I bit on the bait, it arrived in the mail, and I was hooked from the first page.
First of all, it’s funny. The Shatnerisms made me laugh out loud, like when he said “Few are worthy enough to call me an egomaniac!” and described his kidney stone as “an onyx of agony.”
Then there’s the Wow Factor. Did you know Bill Shatner is 80? If you did the math, you could figure that out. But you have to be a pretty huge fan to know he has recorded three albums in his lifetime. On his new release, Searching for Major Tom, Bill belts out Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” accompanied by renowned heavy metal guitarist Zakk Wylde.
Since Shatner’s been in show business for 75 years, the book is also about acting. If you thought Captain Kirk was his only real role, prepare to be amazed. He’s appeared in productions from major motion picture Judgment at Nuremberg to the 1960s TV series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Right now, he has not one, but two talk shows including Aftermath where he interviews such notables as Daniel Ellsburg, Bernard Goetz and Lee Boyd Malvo.
Oh, and by the way, Shatner Rules also offers Bill’s heartfelt, upbeat philosophy of life.
All this is wrapped up in a compact 50,000-word hardcover. I wondered why Penguin USA, a foremost publisher of cutting-edge digital products, would send me a little print book. Well, this no-tech tome is a true marvel of multi-platform marketing. Shatner effectively pushes his Facebook page, commercials and shows on YouTube, music on iTunes, and Twitter feed. He and co-writer, former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart comedy scribe Chris Regan, even have a sneaky trick to get you to www.WilliamShatner.com.
Shatner Rules reminded me why print books still work. In this case, the format controls the game through a clever layout which delivers laughs with maximum impact. Punch lines are often perfectly timed with page turns.
For the mere price of one copy plus postage, Dutton Publicity managed not only to get me to read and write about their book, but also to buy more. The sweet thing about paper books is that they are great keepsakes and gifts. As opposed to my somewhat dour gift choice for last Christmas, this year my loved ones will receive Shatner Rules.
All kidding aside, Bill’s an awesome example of how to wring the most out of life, even when you’re 80.
Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large. On sale everywhere October 4.
It was reassuring to be at the second-ever Digital Book World Conference, if only to see so many others hurtling forward in the same general direction. We were all a little breathless in the brief time-out from our unexpected digital journeys.
Mine began four years ago, when I had an idea for a book. Ironically, it’s a strategy parents can use to introduce their kids thoughtfully to the online world. I started down the publishing road like everyone else back then: researching the topic, writing a manuscript, sending out proposals. I found out pretty quickly that no one wanted to print tech-related non-fiction – especially by an unknown author.
Then the ground began to shift.
I was at an American Independent Writers conference, cheerless from some face-to-face rejections, when I wandered into a session called “The Online Platform.” We were told that if a writer is going to be successful, she had better have a blog, website and Twitter account. Agents won’t even talk to you, the speaker insisted, unless you come with a posse. Sensing I had no choice (and no posse), I set out to create my digital lasso.
While I was still sorting out the hashtags from the plug-ins, my husband gave me a Kindle and I saw how Amazon was squeezing book-selling like a python. Shortly after that, I stumbled upon the Digital Book World Roundtable.
Each week I would lurk, listening in on Guy Gonzales and his merry band of e-pub pioneers. After a few months, they convinced me the writing on the wall was electronic, so I studded my manuscript with links. Then, last summer – driving between West Palm Beach and Jacksonville – I wrote a script in my head for a companion video. A few months later, as luck would have it, I was able to attend the DBW conference in exchange for doing some interviews and shooting cover footage.
The formal sessions were captivating, as was the time in between. From executives to entrepreneurs – all were happy to share their thoughts. DBW Innovation award-winner, Hillel Cooperman, showed me how his kids and his parents can read books together on the iPad, even when they’re on opposite coasts. And, author and Wired scribe Frank Rose divulged that he too is “groping” toward understanding this strange, new medium (though his book is published).
I returned home grateful for sipping the nectar of a blossoming industry – and encouraged as I grope my way.