Saturday, May 5, 2012

3 Reasons Traditional Media Still Matters

Social media use is growing fast and it's changing how people consume news. But there's still life in traditional media. The real choice for corporate communicators isn't putting resources in either traditional media or social media, but rather how do you get the right balance so that your company gets covered broadly and the stories have the most impact.

 Mashable had a really cool info graphic from about people's use of social media for news consumption. The title "How Social Media is Taking Over the News Industry" was a bit hyperbolic, but as with all good headlines, it got me to read (in this case, click). As I processed the information, it got me thinking that there are three reasons traditional media still matters.

#1: Traditional media is where the audience is.
Most people still get their news from TV and newspapers. As a news source, TV comes in at about 60%, newspapers about 30% and about 29% for social media and roughly 19% for radio. (The numbers don't equal 100% because typically people are able to pick more than one source for their news.) You're still going to need trained individuals to do traditional media interviews, and you are still going to have to build and maintain relationships with reporters who cover your industry. Social media comes in ahead of radio, but even in 2005, the Pew Center for People and the Press reported that internet news came in ahead of radio (24% vs. 22%).

#2: Traditional media has credibility.
This survey shows that nearly half of the people polled say they have heard breaking news on social media that turned out to be wrong. The race to be first makes for sloppy reporting. What good is immediacy if the information is incorrect? Not that traditional media doesn't blow the story sometimes, just less often than social media.

#3: News isn't driving social media growth.
Since 2009, traffic to news sites from social media has grown 57%. Sounds impressive. But Facebook has grown about 400% since 2009 and Twitter about 800%. If social media were really taking over, shouldn't the growth in links be a lot higher? Sure, more people are linking to news from social media, but news certainly isn't driving social media growth.

Social media lets you hold onto your current audiences by connecting with them in new ways. You can also build new audiences with tools that allow you to connect with people you've ever reached before. That's the true power of social media in corporate communications.

Any communication tool that allows you to better connect with your key audiences is worth your attention. No matter the technology, though, communication remains, at its core, a human interaction.

Bill Salvin

Note: This post has been updated to correct a statistic in the graph on user growth. The original post listed Facebook user growth from 2009-2012 as 800%. It is 400%.


  1. Patricia Borns (via LinkedIn)May 6, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    Could it be that the reason online news and social media appear disconnected is that social media is the new 'news?.' The feeds on peoples' desktops today come from twitter and facebook, most from non-news sources. Traditional media does have a life -- revolving more and more around online and social media.

  2. Paul Ivice (via LinkedIn)May 6, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    No, it's more likely that the reason for the disconnect is that most information shared on social media is NOT news at all.

  3. Patricia Borns (via LinkedIn)May 6, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    Yes, that's exactly my point. And because of that, news organizations are creating new "traditional media" opportunities so they can join the conversation. Every news org has one or more social media positions dedicated flowing assets into social media, training trads to blog, tweet, etc.

  4. I find it fascinating that the intrinsic news value of a story seems to change if we find out about through social media. We would quip back in my television days that something was "news" because we were there. Social media is to the early 21st century what the newsboy standing on the street corner with a sandwich board was to the early 20th century. Thanks for reading, guys and for taking the time to comment.

  5. Sharon Hazard (Via LinkedIn)May 7, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    I find it exhausting and time consuming, much like relatives we really don't enjoy being around but have to include them and be nice if we want to get along with the rest of the family.

  6. Very true, Sharon. Didn't we feel the same way when the Internet first came along? Now we get along with it famously.Perhaps with some more time we will find some reasonable accommodation. Thanks for reading.

  7. Paul Ivice (via LinkedIn)May 7, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    No, I don't agree that we felt the same way about the Internet. The Internet did not trivialize news like social media does, it simply made it much more accessible.

  8. Paul, that is a great way of looking at it. The Internet allowed news to breakout of artificial constraints like time and space so that it could be more complete.

  9. Dave Boitano (Via (LinkedIn)May 7, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    The goal of news is to inform readers. If the readers are found through Twitter and Facebook why not use those platforms to reach your news audience. I agree. Social media is the 21st Century version of a newsboy hawking headlines on the street corner.

  10. Paul Ivice (Via LinkedIn)May 7, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    If that newsboy was a Johnny One-Note robot with no ability to distinguish between the importance of one news story relative to another. LINDSEY LOHAN ARRESTED gets the same inflection as PEARL HARBOR BOMBED.

  11. Teresa Dougherty (Via LinkedIn)May 7, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    I continue to believe that there is a place for "social media" but it is really a pipeline for information, marketing, news and yes "conversations." As a platform or tool (read: not a strategy), it should be part of any communications strategy to reach targeted audiences who use those tactics. For media relations, it is up to the practitioner to find where one's audience is receiving its information and what is going to make them act.

  12. Rivard Raymond T (Via LinkedIn)May 8, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    This is a nice stream of discussion and I'm thankful for insight on this linkedin board. Many of boards on this site are, like Facebook and Twitter, simply means for marketing and spam artists. However, I feel the importance of social media is in the eye of the beholder. Yes, there is the tendency for misinformation, but the key is integrity in reporting by sifting out the credible news sources ... using these platforms is critical in reaching many who would be unreachable otherwise. It is also important to utilize these platforms for readers who will be intrigued to pick up an actual newspaper for the entire story or to utilize a publication's website. Driving traffic from Facebook and Twitter to a news organization's website and back is crucial in not only increasing readers, but in keeping them coming back

  13. Arvind K. Pandey (Via LinkedIn)May 8, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    I find Social Media better than traditional media because it's above the biases of editors and media houses. Here one gets uncensored news.. It's another thing that it needs to act with greater degree of responsibility, being focused more on quality than quantity.. I am sure it has great future...

  14. Paul Ivice (Via LinkedIn)May 8, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    Uncensored and unbiased? Really? I don't buy that for one second. Everyone has biases. And the more you know about a source, an editor or a publication, the better you can understand and account for their biases.

    What is "un" about news on social media is it's unedited, unresearched, unsourced, unreliable.and often unbelievable.

  15. Simone Castello (Via LinkedIn)May 9, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Traditional media has been dying of a slow death. Everybody is hastening to create digital versions of their publications using social media tools. Have you considered the language standards in the surviving print publications? Dire, superficial and irrelevant (think celebrity cult). And the last nail in the coffin of traditional media is when brands decided to prioritise social media to advertise and engage their customers, leading to big falls in advertising revenue.

  16. Ian Shalapata, (via LinkedIn)May 9, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    I think Raymond and Simone have nailed it. Social media don't create the stories. They are creating a need for trivial, unsourced, unedited stories. Those who use social outlets to drive traffic to the organization's website will be the big winners. Those who offer the fluff and puffery of social media as a destination will surely fail.

  17. Joe Banks (Via LinkedIn)May 9, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    The only Twitter feeds I subscribe to are those from news agencies and newspaper reporters who I know. The best I find are Breaking News, BBC News (World), all of my local dailies, radio and TV stations. Then there are a number of journalists who work for those companies who I follow. So in my case, Social media has EXTENDED the reach of good and trusted journalism, and is not replacing it. The so-called citizen journalism crowd don't get my attention because they have no track record.

  18. Arvind K Pandey (via LinkedIn)May 9, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    "News on social media is it's unedited, unresearched, unsourced, unreliable.and often unbelievable" ....

    That's sweeping analysis..It's not true..After all, social media is comprised of people belonging to journalistic circles, academic institutions and prestigious forums. So how can these responsible people enter in malpractices on social media forums ? And if they are doing that on social media platforms then it's hard to believe that in reputed print publications they remained above corrupt practices!!

    By uncensored I mean people have the liberty to state the fact as it is on social media forums even if they lack perfect sense of language/ perfect style to convey their viewpoints. That's quite terrific as it sabotages the lies spread by enlightened souls associated with print world!

    Let's not forget that how refined people in traditional media distorted the news items to serve vested interests. If that's the case what's the point in undermining the sincere efforts of people related with social media ? And that's the reason why it has emerged as a powerful alternative to traditional media, which someone has rightly pointed out is dying a slow death.

  19. Paul Ivice (via LinkedIn)May 9, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Arvinid said: Let's not forget that how refined people in traditional media distorted the news items to serve vested interests.

    That may be your experience where you are, but it is mostly the opposite in the U.S. Generally speaking, in the U.S. it is the people using social media who distort the facts, intentionally or not, because of vested interests, and traditional media who report sourced, reliable, accurate information.

  20. Denise Mhlanga (via LinkedIn)May 10, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    I agree Bill, think that social media has certainly provided a useful tool to share news but journalists ought to still ensure they write and tell news stories even better than before

  21. Mohnish Bose (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    Social media is important, no doubt..In today's tweet world, nothing moves faster than the news..What is more important is the quality of journalism, not so much the medium. In the urgency of reporting, what often happens is that facts tend to get contorted.

  22. Mohnish, that's a good observation. The contortion of facts often comes about because of lack of context. With limited time and space, things can get left out that would provide a a more well-rounded story. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Thanks for reading!

  23. David Boitano (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Mohnish makes an excellent point. Often quality reporting is sacrificed when website editors are rushing to be the first to post something. Even if all the newspapers in the world vanished today, there would still be a need for the professionalism and ethics practiced by most print media reporters and editors.

  24. Excellent point, Dave. It seems as though we have a choice: Do you want it fast or do you want it right. Used to be we could have both. Not sure it still applies. Thanks for reading.

  25. Ning Sun (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    I'm so agree that traditional news outlets look more credible and are more convincing, which have been a long time in our life TVs are just a means of relaxing while finding what's going on around the planet. The traditional ones are definitely penetrating into the social media by launching boards on FB, Twitter, which is good as it giving out valuable credible news through faster-spread channels. It especially works for our students when we check out news on Twitter during a break to see what has been "RT" mostly. So yes traditional media won't fade away but is kind of mixing into a larger platform.

  26. Mike Lata (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Why is it that so many of you guys think advertisers respect real journalism? Or that they pay simply because the content (writing) is good? I seriously doubt this is the case and they respect old writing with small circulations over crappy writing, but venues that will get them more impressions (whether online or print). I also seriously doubt that they pay more for print ads simply because they respect the medium more than ogle Adsense. They only care about their own bottom line and I doubt they have any sort of allegiance to good journalism or print like you guys claim. There is a reason they are paying less or disappearing from print entirely and relying on cheaper online CPM CPC ads.

    I mean, I really doubt any of those big companies who are relying on low paid bloggers and content writers to market their companies by putting ads on eLance, Craigslist, or other such job boards will put their company ads inprint because they respect the quality of writing. They don't even respect their own writers anymore and even in silicon valley they try to get the cheapest writers as possible.

  27. Mike Lata (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Here is how much Apple respects authors and writers:

  28. Paul Ivice (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    The problem with your argument, Mike, is that online ads may reach more people, but they do not have the impact or penetration of print ads or ads in other electronic media, such as TV and radio.

    The move by General Motors to pull its ads from Facebook is only the beginning of this realization among advertisers that simply becuase their ad is on the same page as something an Internet user is reading does not mean the reader pays any attention to the ad, even subliminally.

    For most Internet users, the ads are an annoyance that is avoided as much as possible.

  29. Ian Shalapata (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Paul, What you've said can also be said of print ads and the TV ads that people, now-a-days, TiVo straight through. If GM won't advertise on the internet, then where?

  30. Paul Ivice (via LinkedIn)May 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Not as many people skip past commercials on TV as you think, though more say they do. Furthermore, automobile ads on TV are much more attractive and compelling that those on the net. I don't know what GM's ad plans are, but it will be interesting to see, and to see what other major corporations follow their lead away from advertising on Facebook or other places on the net.

  31. As someone who has been dealing with the world-wide news media -- MSM and social -- for more than 50 years, I share Paul Ivice's concern about the social media: "What is "un" about news on social media is it's unedited, unresearched, unsourced, unreliable.and often unbelievable." But the traditional media has caused this to happen. When I was at Syracuse University in the '70's, they were beginning to teach "advocacy journalism", and that is mostly what we see today, and what disturbs many people. We need traditional news media to get into the social media game and to highlight news that is not advocacy journalism, and is "edited, researched, sourced, reliable, and believable." The American reader has a basic sense of fairness and will respond to that. Right now they are responding to what they see as automatic bias in the news media, and "taking the news into their own hands." I'd like to see the traditional media step up and challenge that with the professional credibility and training at their fingertips. Sadly, most traditional media now run not by news persons, but by bean counters.