How Do You Get Your News Today?

I'm amazed by the speed in which the announcement of Ginny Rometti succeeding Sam Palmisano in January 2012 as IBM's president and CEO hit the Twitterverse. I saw the first tweets by IBMers Kathy Mandelstein (@katmandelstein) and Jon Iwata (@coastw) at 1:19 pm PDT in my hourly Twitter scan. They linked directly to the IBM announcement: Virginia M. Rometty elected IBM president and CEO. Minutes later, the New York Times followed with an article, and Fortune, CNET, Mashable, TechCrunch, etc. followed with tweets.

Now granted, I am an IBMer, so obviously I'm very interested in news about IBM. But it made me realize again just how much of my news I get on Twitter and Facebook these days. I found about the death of Steve Jobs and the East Coast earthquake on Facebook. The Japan earthquake and tsunami and Egyptian revolution news came via Twitter. The earthquake in Turkey and Netflix's series of mistakes from Facebook.

When social networking first grabbed my attention two and a half years ago, I was excited about the potential. I wasn't farsighted enough to see where it could go, but knew it was going somewhere, and it did tie in with my enjoyment of reading science fiction partly because I love the creativity and imagination authors employ to describe how everything, including communications, will continue to evolve and be used in the future. (Small side note: I recently discovered Peter F. Hamilton's work and am working my way through his Void trilogy after finishing the Commonwealth Saga. It's amazing (and a little scary) how easily you can see current social networking evolving into the Unisphere.)

I'm not alone in getting my news from the social networking channel. According to the latest Pew Study on Media Attitudes, 1985 - 2011:
Social networking has expanded the ways in which the public gets news and information. About a quarter (27%) of adults say they regularly or sometimes get news or news headlines through Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites. This rises to 38% of people younger than 30, but now spans a notable share of older Americans (12% of those 65 and older) as well. ... And when asked to describe what they like about getting news over social networks and Twitter, answers range from features of the technology such as speed, portability and brevity to ways in which the content is more customized, personal and topical.

When you compare the statistics from three years earlier, Pew Study on Media Attitudes, 1985 - 2008, you can see how the "news from social networking" questions have evolved, since this was the only conclusion:
Social networking sites are very popular with young people, but they have not become a major source of news. Just 10% of those with social networking profiles say they regularly get news from these sites.

Will getting your news via social networking replace more traditional channels like television, newspapers and magazines?  Supplement, yes. Replace? Clearly not in the immediate future. But as the participants in the 2011 Pew Study reported, customization, personalization and topicality are growing more important to us in this flatter, networked world, and social networking does all three of those very well. :-)

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