At the recent PopTech conference, JD Lasica interviewed eight members of the leading edge of the Internet about their news habits. Their answers suggest that blogs, search engines and Net communities are valued news intermediaries and providers.
As the Internet audience gains tenure and mastery of the medium, Lasica ponders whether the answers of these early adopters may be a reflection of “where our wired society may be headed a few years hence.” Our answer is a resound “yes”.
There is an interesting pattern in the interviewees habits — a media consumption profile that we’ve adopted over the last five years. As we’ve progressed with our internet news usage, we’ve found ourselves going to mainstream news media less and less.
We go to blogs, online communities and subscribe to email newsletters for specialized knowledge rarely covered in mainstream media. We also go to search engines, portals, blogs and online communities that act as filters and guides to news and information that we might find relevant. We might land on a mainstream news site as a result of these activities (for a one-off hit), but they certainly aren’t are our primary or secondary starting points. Like most, we also consume media offline — a few newspapers, magazines, radio stations and tv programming, when it suits a particular activity (such as driving in a car) or when we are away from our computers (in a doctor’s office).
Reading JD’s interviews, reminded us of a Brill’s Content (Dec. 1999) article featuring 10 case studies of the “average person’s media diet”. This type of ethnographic user profiling could help news sites understand they need in order become more relevant to the evolving needs of their audience. (See Chapter 9 of Alan Cooper’s book for more on this).
From JD’s article, we hear common complaints about online news media — cumbersome registration barriers, lack of meaningful content relationships (on site and on the net), unusable search engines and clunky archives. We hope big media are listening, because these are largely technical problems that are easily overcome.