Have you ever watched a zombie movie (or classic horror film) and seen the world imploding on the fringes of what the heroine sees? People die, unexplained things happen, and the news comes on… and she turns off the TV or changes the radio station. So, she doesn’t kow that the zombies are attacking, that they even exist, because she’s not catching the news. Then, out of nowhere (for her), the world as she knows it ends.
And it’s in this way that I’m going to be amongst the first victims in the zombie apocalypse (or whatever brings the ends of the world). I don’t stay up to watch the evening news. Even if I happen to actually be in front of a television at that specific hour, I don’t tune in to an actual newscast. It’s more likely I’m going to catch the headline list off my RSS feed later or pick up a headline from Twitter.
It’s not willful disregard, or a plot twist (as it would be in the movie), just that my consumption of information is much different than a decade ago, five years ago, even two years ago. “Live” broadcasts are not what I use to keep connected to what’s happening in the world.
Twitter is my newsfeed
Unless I happen to be in front of a computer monitor, with an updating Twitter feed, I’m not getting a live update of the news. For several years now I’ve come to rely on Twitter to stream on a second monitor, or in an open screen, to keep up with what’s going on in my network. I’ve subscribed to credible sources, media outlets and channels, that give me the most relevant news. Whether it’s a notice that a Texas college has been evacuated because of a suspected attack or a shooting in a school, whether it’s a highway closure due to an accident or an announcement of an award won, someone will post the headline. More probably, several people will post the info and then it will be retweeted.
Of course, this only works if you are looking at a computer screen of some sort, even a mobile one. And so, as so often happens in horror films, driving home after work I won’t be checking my feeds. Or at least, let’s hope I’m not checking my feeds driving 70 miles an hour down a Texas freeway.
My friends and family curate the world for me
I find new restaurants, products to buy, shows to watch, and movies to download because my friends and family post little snippets and “stories” about them. These are the fluff pieces, the human interest stories, the special sections that would run in traditional news outlets. I get the fashion news from my fashionista friends, the restaurant reviews from my foodie friends, the book recommendations from my fellow readers, etc.
And, because I know them and (theoretically) trust their opinions, their recommendations mean all that much more than those coming from a stranger.
Netflix, Hulu and Xfinity on Demand are my Television
Once upon a time I watched actual television. Sometimes that meant watching shows and news in real time (that is the actual time it is broadcast “live”). Sometimes that meant treating television like an appointment: I rushed through other things to be on time to the broadcast.
That’s not the case any more.
My selection of which shows to watch are based on several things: what I like, whether the storylines are good, and whether I can catch the lastest episode on my ipad. (Just a note: not a lot of newscasts out there putting the entire newscast on mobile.) What this also means is that I watch the show when it’s convenient to me. I don’t think the zombies are going to wait until I have time to watch tonight’s top news segment, probably tomorrow mid-morning.
Podcasts and Pandora are my Radio
Can I confess that I find morning drive-time and evening drive-time DJs a little annoying? It’s the banter. There’s something a little depressing about it.
When I bought my first iPhone I realized that I could take my topics, my radio shows, with me via podcasts. So they load to my iphone and once or twice a week I work my way through them. The business shows, the industry conversations, the discussions about finances, and the lifestyle shows all accompany me everywhere. Hours of entertainment in the palm of my hand.
Even with that, I did still listen to live radio with relative frequency, then every once in a while. But I’ve realized that sometime this year I stopped. I don’t turn on the news radio station in the morning. I don’t tune in at work. Instead I have a very customized group of Pandora stations that soothe me, entertain me and make me want to dance. All in all, they play music that makes me feel good. Feeling good for a 45-minute commute (in regular traffic) is something that should not be underrated.
I still get the news from local media, it just comes to me in custom Google alerts or in the previously-mentioned RSS feeds.
What this means to me as a communicator
Putting aside my lame jokes about the zombie apocalypse, this shift in how I consume entertainment, news and information is one that many of my friends have made as well. If you want to reach out to me then traditional advertising and earned media aren’t going to work. What might work? Pandora ads, ads in my Facebook newsfeed, ads in the beginning and ending of my favorite podcasts (or in the middle).
This also means that the role of mainstream media in keeping me updated has changed. While it’s still a resource I use, it’s not one I use as a primary and immediate source of “hot” topics. If I do access a breaking story when it’s “published” it’ll probably be because one of my friends posted it in one of our shared networks. And they probably got it because the media outlet posted the headline on one of their shared networks. And so on, and so on, and so on…
It’ll be interesting to see what the next few years hold for “broadcast” news. As I read about the expected wave of online services to provide “streaming” live television, that may once again impact my news consumption. Or not. We will see.
— Written by: Sandra Fernandez