It was just a few weeks ago that I walked past a TV in our office kitchen and saw a climber scaling the side of Trump tower in NYC. The caption on screen read ‘Live from Periscope’. If you don’t know, Periscope is Twitter’s stand-alone application for live streaming. I headed back to my desk, fired up periscope on my phone, and picked up work where I left off with the stream running. At one point I noticed the stream had as many as 31,000 viewers.
This got me wondering, if a cable news network is running a Periscope feed as the fastest way to cover a news worthy event, how long will it be until much of our “breaking news” will be sent and consumed on mobile devices? Of course that begs the question, how many people are getting news from Social Media, largely viewed on mobile devices, right now?
The first time I was truly aware of the impact Social Media has on News consumption was years ago in my home one evening my son yelled down from the top of the stairs “They got Bin Laden!” I asked how did you hear about it? His answer, “Facebook.” About ten minutes later it was all over the TV news.
Pew Research center recently released a study on the use of social media to get news for adults in the US. The study shows that about 6-in-10 Americans get news from social media. While not surprising, Facebook is by majority the leading source with 66% of users saying they get news there.
It was noted that Facebook, Instagram and YouTube news users are most likely to come across news rather than search for it. LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit news users are more evenly divided between news seekers and non-seekers.
How many users get their news from more than one social media platform? What age demographic favors which social media? How will livestreaming affect the usage of social media for news consumption and what will be the impact of non-vetted news sources?
The answers to these questions may not only provide insight into what the future traditional news gathering and dissemination channels will look like but how and who may be able to shape opinions and direct the conversation about everything including politics, education, finance, social justice, healthcare and more.
Perhaps the biggest impact will be that one person with a streaming app can capture the eyes and ears of thousands of people, a reality that previously was the only available to powerful broadcast and cable news networks. The playing field may never be level but it is certainly moving in that direction. Individuals can disseminate breaking news sometimes, in ways that traditional news outlets can’t.
Here are the highlights from the Pew Study: