L.W. Lynett once said, “The most effective way to cope with change is to help create it.” By that definition, there seems to be a lot of “creative” people in the world today. Generational change agents abound especially in the media sector. At times, it feels as if we are moving faster and faster just to stay one step ahead of the game. Case in point, the Pew Research Center recently released is Biannual News Consumption Survey which found, to no one’s surprise, that Americans are now more likely to get news and information from online sources rather than from traditional print media, specifically newspapers. Not to be outdone, the Project for Excellence in Journalism found, in its most recent State of the News Media report that, in 2010, news viewership for MSNBC, CNN and Fox News had declined precipitously, i.e., almost 14% in aggregate. Couple this with the continued decline of broadcast network news (down 3.4%) during the same period and we can begin to see a pattern—traditional sources of news and information are no longer fast enough to keep pace with a world in a state of tumultuous change.
Now obviously, the media world that we know and love is not necessarily going away. While time spent with Internet news sources was about three minutes longer per day than with newspapers (13 versus 10 minutes on average), time spent with TV and radio news sources still dominated, at 19 and 15 minutes, respectively. TV usage levels are largely influenced by the fact that 63% of those in the 30 to 49 cohort continue to cite television news as their top information source as opposed to 48% among this group for web-based news.
However, nothing moves technology forward faster than generational change. GfK MRI, in Wave 63 of its Survey of the American Consumer, found that of all mobile phone users, those in the Millennial generation were 57% more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to view a texted ad and were also 93% more inclined to respond to a promotional offer via text messaging. No more 30-second TV spots or store circulars for the 18 to 34 crowd. Everything is mobile, instantaneous and targeted specifically to them. In fact, GfK MRI found that these consumers were two times more likely than average to believe that their mobile phones were extensions of their personalities.
Delivery platform notwithstanding, traditional news sources are still responsible for much of the news content that appears across virtually all venues. Moving forward, this is not likely to change significantly since the cost of entry to establish and maintain a global news gathering organization is formidable. Only major media corporations have the financial wherewithal to carry this out. Virtually all of the news and information carried via Google News and on Huffington Post, among others comes aggregated from traditional news content providers. It’s the speed with which one obtains news and what one does with it that’s transformational. So whether or not we exceed the technology speed limit largely depends on whose jurisdiction we are in. For one group in one place it might be 55. For another group in another place it might be 70. Only time will tell whether we establish a new one at 90!
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