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“News” in the Facebook era

Posted September 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized by Jeff Bentoff

I always say that to understand what constitutes “news” to the news media, just look at the first three letters of the word: “New.” But that whole concept assumes that people get their news just from the news media. A recent quote I saw reminded me that people, particularly young people, are increasingly getting their news directly from other people via social media, and not directly from the traditional news media.

This anecdote from writer Nick Bilton in a New York Times article on Monday made the point for me. And for those trying to communicate messages, it highlights that we also need to find ways to directly reach our audiences, in addition to reaching out indirectly through news media.

As Bilton wrote:

I got my own hard lesson in this new “Me! Now!” world when some friends stopped by our house with their younger teenage cousin. As I started making coffee for our guests, she asked if she could use my laptop to “check the news.” I handed it over.

I was curious which news sites she was going to, so I asked, expecting to hear something like CNN or The New York Times, or maybe TMZ, the Hollywood gossip site. She looked up at me and said, “Facebook.” Then she turned back to the computer and continued reading.

“I thought you were going to read the news,” I said. “This is my news,” she replied. To many in her age group, news is not defined by newspapers, or broadcast television stations, or even bloggers or renegades. Instead, news is what is relevant to the individual — in her case, what Facebook calls its “news feed.”

This doesn’t mean she only sees messages about the mundane; links to mainstream news outlets, blogs and everything in between show up too. The only difference: It’s hyper-personalized.

One Response so far.

  1. Julia Taylor says:

    And there is always “breakingnews” on twitter–amazing what headlines can capture in 140 characters.

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