Brook is old. You’d be forgiven for wondering why I’m bringing her up in a blog about emerging media but what you don’t know is that she’s a leading indicator of news delivery. I’ll explain.
She’s 20 years old. In her prime, there was no better athlete anywhere on earth. You should have seen her — she would hand me a frisbee and I’d throw it 50 yards as fast as I could. Somehow, despite all that distance, she’d get to it, do some sort of amazing acrobatic move and catch the darned thing. Every time. We named her after baseball great, Brooks Robinson because you couldn’t get a ball past him either.
It hasn’t been all fun-and-games for my border collie. Up until last year, she earned her keep by sprinting out in every sort of weather, and retrieving my morning paper. She was always so proud when she dropped it at my feet. Truth be told, for the past few years, the paper was more about her than me. I’d sometimes read parts of it but the importance of the daily paper had diminished.
Recently, she finally retired from the news business. I miss the young and energetic version of Brook but really, I don’t miss the daily paper. There may be only one Brook but I think a lot of people are finding they don’t miss their paper. What amazes me is that people seem to be at least as well informed today as they ever have been. Which makes me wonder… what has replaced Brook?
Pew Research found that a lot of people are getting their news from social media. In fact, in their research, 30% of Americans say they get news from Facebook. Facebook! It’s true though. Have you “liked” a news organization? 1.4 million are following NBC Nightly News. 25 million follow CNN’s feed. 3 million follow USAToday.
Some stories spread faster on social media than traditional media ever could manage. How did you hear about Robin Williams’ death? What about the plane crash in the French Alps? If you’re like most, you first heard about it through social media.
And then a whole host of niche news websites have emerged in recent years. Me and 42 million other people read Mashable every month. Buzzfeed has 130 million unique visitors per month.
I had it pretty easy for all those years. All I had to do pretty much was open the door and Brook did the rest. I really never thought about how much work the news was for me, but even with the paper dropped at my feet, I still had to search through to find the news that was of interest to me. I would have thought it couldn’t get easier but now it sure is. My feeds are so fine tuned that the news that matters to me just appears in front of me during the day, and often it’s in real time. Poor Brook. She didn’t have a chance.
Anderson, M., & Caumont, A. (2014, September 24). How social media is reshaping news. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/
Lichterman, J. (2014, July 22). From Grumpy Cat to Ukraine: How Mashable is expanding beyond gadgets and apps. Retrieved from http://www.niemanlab.org/2014/07/from-grumpy-cat-to-ukraine-how-mashable-is-expanding-beyond-gadgets-and-apps/
Media traffic numbers were found on their respective sites.
UPDATE: Sadly, Brook died on May 9. She led an epic 20-year life and left behind a million memories. She is missed more than words can say.