August 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm #167563
Manyof us still get local news from our hometown newspaper or local TV news affiliate. Some of us still swear by national and regional newspapers. Plus, the traditional three national TV news networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) still account for a combined audience of about 22 million viewers for their daily evening newscasts, according to industry reports.
But with the increasing convergence of digital news, the proliferation of social media, and the growth of mobile devices, more and more of us are receiving news online, according to indusrty reports.
1) Where do you get online news and how frequently?
Google, Twitter, Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, “shared sites” or web sites of traditional media appear to be conventionally popular choices.
2) If you’re a government communicator, has online news made your job easier or more difficult, and how so?
August 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm #167587
August 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm #167585
August 10, 2012 at 2:14 am #167583
Yes, online news is fast becoming the new normal, while traditional newspapers and other print media die out like the dinosaurs — albeit, slowly but surely. I won’t venture to estimate a date — feel free to offer your own best guess?
Following is my answer to the first question above:
1) I get online news on a daily basis. The sites I visit most are:
I also receive news via e-mails with daily news updates and breaking news from:
National Law Journal
Crain’s Business News York
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Plus daily news feeds from the U.S. Department of Labor. Also, like most feds, I receive daily electronic news clips about my agency and mission-related issues.
Now, how about you???
August 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm #167581
I consume most of my news in couple formats:
-Google Reader – on the web where I consume probably 100 RSS feeds – don’t read them all
-Pulse mobile app – 25 key RSS feeds that I read all the time when bored (watching TV, in line, etc)
-Email – like you I get a bunch of daily emails ranging from GovExec to Fednewsradio to my local Patch
-Print – still got local and NY Times print sundays & get a bunch of print mags (Fast company, Wired, businessweek)
August 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm #167579
Thanks for the awesome comment, Steve. In an age of growing media saturation, at least the news consumer is able to narrowly tailor the information overflow to one’s specific interests and needs. That was not always the case. Thus, filtering out all the media “noise” to better focus on what matters to the individual is one significant benefit of the explosion in information technology. Today, the public has more power to control what kind of news it wants to receive, and when, rather than being held hostage by the media beast.
August 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm #167577
Great question! The major newspaper in the state of Iowa is the Des Moines Register. They recently launched a new digital business model designed for tablets, smart phones and other mobile devices. The success of this effort is still to be determined.
I get morning news in the print edition of the Des Moines Register and the New York Times. During the day, my news comes from online sources CNN, Washington Post, Google News, PRSA and Patch.
I have no prediction of when newspapers reach extinction, but know the current print model is unsustainable.
August 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm #167575
Thanks so much for the excellent comments, Deb. It would be very interesting and informative to hear the answer to the second part of the question as well — especially from expert govt communicators such as yourself and other GovLoopers.
What’s the impact of online news for govt communicators? Has online news made our jobs easier, more difficult, or is it a wash?
What do you think, Deb? What’s that old saying: Inquiring minds want to know…I want to know. Hopefully, other fellow govt communicators will boldy share their thoughts too.
Thanks again, Deb! 🙂
August 14, 2012 at 12:30 am #167573
August 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm #167571
A provocative question! For govt communicators, it’s a mixed bag. Online news is unconstrained by print and delibery and positioned to report the news as it happens. This can be a challenge and an opportunity: a challenge in terms of time commitment and an opportunity to correct, frame or otherwise inform readers as news is breaking. If we can stay in step with the news in real time, it reduces the impact of false, misleading or incorrect information resonating with a very fickle and fleeting online audience. Since the average online only reader tends to be younger and spends only a few minutes reading online, our constant presence in these spaces is not only necessary, but critical to brand management.
Another challenge is the proliferation of online news sources and how to stay apace with them. Print media historically has enjoyed a near monopoly status for news. Now the online news world is littered with news giants like CNN and MSNBC to news aggregators like huffingpost.com to blogs by the millions. Fortunately, new digital tools available to govt communicators helps us stay abreast of who is talking about us and when.
August 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm #167569
Thanks so much for boldly elaborating on the second question, Deb. I agree with your insightful analysis.
The proliferation of online news has both positive and negative consequences for govt communicators, the key aspects of which you touched on. I think we can view online news as being similar in many respects to the traditional national/global wire services, such as AP, Reuters, Dow Jones, Bloomberg, etc. — which, of course, are now also online and thus have even more influence to shape the national news agenda and debate.
Like national and global wire services, online news is about the constant flow of info dissemination 24/7, usually with super-tight internal deadlines and a rush to get the story out asap externally. Moreover, if one seeks a correction or clarification to an online news story, it’s usually easier to obtain than in the old days — at least from legitimate web-based news outlets that want to get a story right.
As you wisely point out, on one hand we need to monitor a growing multitude of online news sources and influential bloggers on a near constant basis, which can be tedious and time consuming — even with Twitter and digital monitoring tools, and especially with limited resources during these times of govt fiscal austerity. That means more time and pressure for govt communicators to be aware and responsive across the board at a moment’s notice even, if that means doing so at odd hours. This was always the case to some extent, but online news has made it even more so.
Another issue we face is inherent and entrenched govt bureauracy at all levels, which slows us down because many decisions made by govt communicators do not occur in a vacuum. Agency leaders are not always immediately accessible for approval of statements and messaging via the old school internal protocols, particularly after hours and on weekends. Some are, but most aren’t. Meanwhile, the never-ending news cycle rolls on.
Therefore, govt communicators should be provided with greater authority — if they do not already have it — to respond to online news immediatley when their agency’s good name and reputation are on the line, regardless of whether the powers-that-be may be reached to review and approve messaging, etc. We can’t counteract negative online news with one hand tied behind our backs. The longer bad info is out there in cyberspace, the more it grows and sticks.
Thus time really is of the essence — much more so than before — and should take precedent over waiting the next day, or even several hours, to have a meeting or coloaborate with agency leaders and/or legal counsel to hash out an “appropriate” bureaucratic response. We don’t always have time to dot the I and cross the T.
By that time, it’s usually too late and most of the damage is done. I don’t think all govt leaders appreciate this new media reality of responding to online news in real time — even when it happens during late night or early morning hours. Moreover, with online news being global and spreading like the Santa Anna winds, we often are dealing with mutliple world time zones (or at least national ones). Thus govt communicators need to be more empowered by our agencies to do our jobs effectively. Don’t blame us for not correcting or reacting to an online news story in a timely fashion if we are not provided with the necessary independent authority to do so.
Meanwhile, I really hope other fellow govt communicators take a few minutes to engage in this critically important discussion. We all face the same 21st century communications challenges whether we work for govt at the federal, state or local level. Thus, we must educate agency heads, legal counsel, program office directors, field offices, and so forth, about real-time media interactions in the evolving online news world. The rules of the game have changed, and thus internal communications protocols need to afford more flexiblility and autonomy to help us get the job done. That’s all for now.
Thanks again, Deb, for helping to keep this conversation going.
August 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm #167567
Excellent point David and I couldn’t agree more that time is of the essence. The traditional model had key decision-makers developing a plan over a 24 hour period and executing it the next day. Today, govt communicators have hours or minutes to respond effectively and can’t wait for a thumbs up to go!
I don’t mean to dominate this discussion and hope others will engage on this issue as well, but your reply reminded me of another challenge govt communicators face with the proliferation of online news and that is the role of the consumer.
Like govt communicators, the consumer of online news has apps and other tools to customize their news to receive only the news they want. Is there a risk to govt communicators and their ability to reach these consumers?
August 14, 2012 at 10:07 pm #167565
Thanks, Deb. I think apps and customized news are good overall. On a mico level, they allow us to more easily reach those most interested in the work and mission of our agency. On a macro level, however, your news must be reported nationally or globally, and thus carried by hundreds or thousands of media outlets (traditional and online) to reach a broad-based audience. I think the answer also depends on the specific work/mission of one’s agency and stakeholders regarding the potential risk to unreachable news consumers due to personal customization of information. I think many news consumers want info from a national, regional and local perspective. Again, as always, the more broad based one’s news is disseminated, the more news consumers will be reached — even with apps and other news specialization tools.
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