In case you didn’t recognize the reference in the headline, it’s an oft-misquoted line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It reminds me of this other famous quote from American author and humorist Mark Twain “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
It occurred to me that the news media might also be thinking of Monty Python and Mark Twain after reading the Pew Research Center’s new study on the traits and habits of the modern news consumer.
There is a lot of interesting data and statistics in this study, but here are a few things for you to keep in mind as you think about where and how you tell your organization’s story.
- Even though digital platforms are on the rise, Americans are not totally centered on the web for news. Surprising to me is that television still commands the largest audience. 57% say they get their news there as opposed to the 38% who get news online.
- It pays to do research. Believe it or not, not everyone on Earth shares your worldview. You may think you know how your target audience behaves or where they get their information, but you won’t really know unless you do your research.
- Even though friends and family are an important source of news, Americans still count more on news organizations. Much has been written about the value of social media and word of mouth, but there is still value in the original reporting and storytelling provided by news organizations. 36% of online news consumers say they often get news online from news organizations vs. just 15% who say they get news online from people with whom they are close. And only 4% of web-using adults say they confidently trust the information they get from social media.
Of course, the media landscape is constantly changing. Almost daily there is a new announcement that impacts how we tell stories and receive news. While traditional news outlets look for new ways to deliver their content and improve user experience, digital-first channels are looking for ways to catch up with traditional media channels when it comes to original reporting and writing. Pew Research Center’s 2016 State of the New Media report shared several interesting examples in this regard:
- Messaging app Snapchat says it has approximately 75 editorial-level staff members.
- NPR expanded its digital offerings last year with three new podcasts.
- The New York Times and The Des Moines Register are both experimenting with virtual reality journalism so consumers can experience the news.
What’s next? Only time will tell. But it will be interesting to watch it unfold and participate in some of these new ways (as well as the old ones) of telling our stories. While the definition or format of media may be changing, we know instinctively that people will always be looking for new sources of information and entertainment. Don’t know which channels the audiences you’re trying to reach are using? Do the research and ask! You may be surprised at what you learn.