It is easy to think that the consumption of news media on the online and digital domains has flourished at the cost of the dinosaur newspaper, but I feel as if it is a natural transition, from one media to the next. However, what I think this rather optimistic analysis tends to leave out is the actual pertinence of the material. A newspaper was dedicated, mostly to the news, a medium dedicated to it’s message, while your traditional 6 o’clock news was dedicated to (of all things) the news.
With the transfer to the online, the on-demand nature of 4 second attention span reigns supreme. With ‘news’ spattered from twitter to YouTube, it is true that it’s everywhere and everybody is looking at it, but I’m sceptical as to how much of it is actually sinking in. A newspaper article needed to be actively consumed, time to process was needed and it was laid out in such a way that its format catered to the story. However, the new online format caters to the 4 second attention span. It is not uncommon these days to have someone skim a twitter feed, or check out the days most popular web-videos in the news category and feel ‘informed.’ There is no real sense of investment. You can know what is going on without actually having to know what is actually happening.
In order to inform someone, digital content needs to capture and attention and pump it full of information as quickly as possible before the mouse hovers over another readily available “Related News” video. Getting someone to INVEST in a topic, or the news, really needs to be the focus, not counting ‘hits’ and calling it an accomplishment. If a story grabs a 100,000 hits, but only keeps 5 percent of those people around for over a minute, then no one is really learning anything.