Right now we are seeing increasing fragmentation/personalization of the news through the pervasiveness of web-based outlets. At the same time, a few large companies own the vast majority of American media:
1. Fragmented/personalized media
According to the Pew Research Center "State of the News Media 2012" survey:
* Revenue is down for network TV, local TV, magazines and newspapers but increasing for online TV, cable and audio (meaning radio or streaming web audio)
* 54% get news on at least one "digital, web-based device"
* 9% of U.S. adults "get news on any digital device very often through Facebook."
2. Consolidation of mainstream media in the hands of a few
Media Consolidation: six companies own 90% of American media: GE, Disney, News Corp, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS (Infographic here)
How can government communicators turn this data into insight - to deliver information to the public more effectively? What concrete actions should we take?
Awesome post, Dannielle, and great infographic!
What are your answers to the questions posed above? Can you kindly elaborate?
An important point -- which I've noted repeatedly -- is that Corporate America controls most major media outlets today. This is an unfortunate development in journalism because it detracts from a free and independent press at the time we need it most -- due to the proliferation of "infotainment" via digital/online news, social media and the blogosphere. Corporate ownership also means the C-suite may surreptitiously exert undue influence, or even malfeasance, over the manner by which news is covered and reported. Rupert Murdoch and his cohorts at News Corp. present a good example.
To me the data tells a consistent story.
* Many in the public actively mistrust government - there is always tension between the federalists and the anti-federalists. See recent Gallup numbers below.
* Mistrust of government combined with aversion to "corporate owned media" fuels the development of alternative news, blog, social media, etc. by the public. (Free technology also enables as does culture of self expression through social media.)
* The appropriate response from a communications point of view would be to do things that increase trust in government (obviously) by increasing the quality of information provided to the public. (This from the public's perspective) AND making sure they know about it and can access it.
* Sample areas of focus could include making government data "mashable," customer service as Amazon provides it - email, chat, or phone options; and developing FAQs based on visiting social media sites and then responding both there and at the original government site.
* In general I would move the focus away from the government website and toward the interactive model where the site mainly holds data and repositories of information posted on social media sites.
* I would also form a cadre of virtual information ambassadors who would reach out to the public to provide information.
These are just some ideas, but I hope that others here who are engaged in projects of this nature can add.
Screenshot sources: Gallup (Annotations by Dannielle Blumenthal)
We as "tellers" of the government story, are going to have to learn how to deal with the DIFFERENT political "slants" when the different media outlets covers our organization.
An RANDOM example would be:
An organization is required to lay off 200 employees which is 2 percent of the workforce; Some media will carry the story 200 employees laid off, some media will carry the story 98 percent of the employees jobs are saved and others will carry the story 2 percent of employees lose their jobs..