According to a recent World Bank report, more than 75 percent of the population now has access to a mobile phone rather than access to clean water. This disquieting statistic, presented to QUT’s Online Journalism 1 students by the homepage editor of the Courier-Mail, Dave Earley (pictured), epitomises the colossal role new age technology has played in regards to who, what, when, why and how the worldwide population accesses news.
Despite a recent Ipsos/Reuters poll revealing more than 60 percent of the world interconnects via social media outlets, Earley asserted that social media is not (yet) an overwhelming driver of news. And, he was right. Much to my surprise, less than two percent of Twitter’s 100 million active users follow the site often for news.
Interestingly, Earley also pointed out that 36% of adults in the United States obtain their dose of daily news by heading directly to a news outlet’s webpage, whilst 32% get their news by using key word searches through engines such as Google or Bing. Therefore, it is clear consumers are reluctant to access news through a means of engagement, such as clicking through to links that appear throughout feeds. So, why aren’t consumers relying on social media for their daily news information, especially in comparison with accessing news websites or apps directly?
A survey released as part of this year’s annual State of the News Media Report probes news consumption habits on digital devices, including how news consumers use social media. Overall, the study confirms that Facebook and Twitter are now pathways to news, but their roles may not be as influential as initially expected. These findings reveal that social media is not a replacement for traditional news players, rather an additional news pathway.
In sum, despite the creation of revolutionary online media outlets, the traditional players remain the go-to for the vast majority of consumers. However, there is no question that journos in the 21st Century need to jump on the social media bandwagon in order to remain relevant and reliable. Innovative technology, coupled with traditional news values, is the recipe for success in this digital age. It would be foolish to think otherwise.