- 1 "Journalism and the New Media Media Ecology: Who Will Pay the Messengers?"
"Journalism and the New Media Media Ecology: Who Will Pay the Messengers?"
What follows is an honest attempt to document a two-day conference at Yale Law School, "Journalism and the New Media Ecology: Who Will Pay the Messenger?" The reporter is Bill Densmore of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. As with a similar in-the-moment report from a gathering at Harvard University two weeks ago, I make no warranty about the accuracy of direct quotes -- captured on the fly -- but make a promise to have supplied appropriate context as best as possible. The sessions are being videotaped. Consult that source for the final history of this event.
The new news ecology -- who will create information useful to citizens?
Dean Robert Post of the Yale Law School opens with thoughts about the new news ecology and he asks, in effect, who will create information useful to citizens in a democracy? He thinks the law and media program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Scripps League fund have helped with funding for this two-day gathering. There appear to be roughly 120 people in the auditorium here at Yale Law School in New Haven, Conn.
"We have a much more serious problem confronting us, we have a collapse of the business structures" of journalism," says Post. "We have to understand the values that we want to use to reconstruct the ecology of media in the next couple of decades . . . this is a topic that is close to my heart." He asks: Whatare the values that we should be seeding in the new media ecology? He says the key answer is "democratic self governance . . . what does it mean in a homogeneous country is necessary to govern ourselves."
Other points Post makes:
- Citizens in a democracy need access to common information -- that provision is compatible with many forms of media. "But in a democracy it is not really (just) information that needs to circulate .... it has to not really be circulated, it has to be created and the creation of information for us becomes a very serious problem in a democracy."
- What about the journalist as expert? "If you just circulate information you have a problem of assimilating which information is important." Too much information, he notes, is meaningless.
Jack Balkin, director of the Yale Information Society Project now welcomes us: "I want you to think of yourselves as servants of democracy . . . the questions we are raising heretoday are not about how you please shareholdres or not even about how you get the next grant ... the questions we consider here today are about the sole of American democracy."
Pew / Rainie: A snapshot of Internet usage change
Lee Rainie of the Pwe Internet & American Life Project -- the premier U.S. researcher of consumer information consumption trends -- provides an overview of the changing world. He presentation includes a slide presentation that I'll obtain or link to later. He ticks off a set of changes by number and I've not gotten them all coherently here yet. But here are some highlights. <i?>
The web in 2000
In May of 2000, less than half of Americans were connected to the web. Only 5% had broadband at honme, 50 percent owned a cell phone, nobody connected wirelessly and connections were slow and stationary and built around your own computer. The "could" as a concept hardly existed.
The web in 2008
Now 79% of adults use the web, including more than 90% of teen-agers, 63% overall have broadband, 85% own a cell phone, 56% connect to the Internet wirelessly, and there are fast, mobile connections built around outside serves and storage. Now the "cloud" dominates.
The audience for news has shrunk, it has grown from 14% in 1998 to 19% now. And it has strikingly risen among the young. About 34% of younger consumers say they get no news a day. There has been an 8 minute drop in daily news consumption in the study period. The audience is generally losing faith in news organizations.
Consumers "Think the internet is a completely different news ecology from those other platforms . . . they are thinking it is surrounded by other material . . . which makes participating or consuming news very different from other platforms . . . the Internet has overtaken newspapers as one of the sources that people cite."
Raine says the rhythms of premium users . . . are now well ahead in saying Internet has surpassed newspaper, and is now rivaling their use of television.
- Fifth reality of audience change -- it has become widely segmented.
- Sixth -- It is grazing for news now, it is not an appointment activity any longer.
- 10th -- Platforms are blending. Half the population still only gets news from traditional sources.
- 11th -- It's participatory -- three quarters of teen-agers are creating not just consuming.
- 12th -- News has become participatory. Ten percent of those with social networking profiles get news through those sites. Young adults participate in the news because "it is a social lubricant." They don't want to be out of touch.
Comscore / Dennen
Now we're hearing Steven Dennen, a vice president with Comscore, a commercial consumer demographics intelligence firm. FOur themes:
- Looking at the consumer from a macro level.
- News audiences are skewing older faster than the overall Internet population
- The importance of search, sharing and syndication
- What's going on with display advertising; opportunities for newspapers
The macro consumer view
(Dennen also has a slide deck we'll trying to find and link to. I'm picking up some highlights as fast as I can type)
- Time spent with pages is down over a year ago.
- The top 10 sites account for 43 percent of online time spent and 37 percent of pages consumed, holding steady from a year ago.
- The top 100 sites are holding steady in terms of overall share of time and pages.
Page views at newspaper sites in decline
- Pages per visitor for sites within the news/information category and the newspapres sub-category are down 14 percent and 3 percently respectively. But other competitive categories are seeing growth in pages per visitor. For newspaper sites it is just over a page per day viewed.
- The news/information audience among persons 25-34 and 35-49 has come more in line with the overall internet population vs. the last year, but vistors over 55 to those sites has increased over the last year.
- Web only news sites are up 35 percent year to year; sites with a combined print relationship are down 13 percent year to year.