All the News That’s Fit to Trust

09Jan08

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Sacred Hart University has released the findings of an interesting survey regarding consumers’ trust in the news media. Only 19% of survey participants say they believe all or most news media reporting. A larger majority, about 24%, said they believe little or no news media reporting.

Dr. James Castonguay, associate professor and chair of SHU’s Media Studies and Digital Culture responded to the findings saying, “The fact that an astonishing percentage of Americans see biases and partnerships in their mainstream news sources suggests an active and critical consumer of information in the U.S. The availability of alternative viewpoints and news sources through the Internet no doubt contributes to the increased skepticism about the objectivity of profit-driven news outlets owned by large conglomerates.”

This survey really got me thinking about this next era of news and information consumption we’re beginning to discover. If these survey findings can be generalized to a larger public, we find ourselves in a strange position.

With less trust for traditional media’s objectivity, people turn to the Web. But… isn’t the Web characterized by and in some cases enjoyed specifically for its subjectivity? Also, let’s not forget that new media content producers are beginning to build the kind of strategic alliances (through sponsorship, advertising, etc.) to monetize and drive traffic to sites in the same sort of manner that is cited as a cause of lessened consumer trust in traditional media.

I imagine that this will result in an increase of comparison shopping involved in news consumption and a huge decrease in media loyalty. I think we’ll increasingly turn to meta news sites that allow us to see side-by-side comparisons of news coverage from a huge variety of sources.

In terms of public relations, getting the big hits in top-tier publications will have much less of an impact.

Instead, we’ll look to decentralize the coverage for our client and start seeing this level of decentralization as a measure of effectiveness in gaining the attention and trust of its target consumers. It seems that instead of talking about media impressions, we’ll talk about the number of media impressions compared with the number of unique mediums we reached.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


					
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