As I read various posts and accounts of the recent execution of Osama Bin Laden, I was struck by the number of mentions in social media by major media players like CNN and Huffington Post. It appears that social media, Twitter specifically, was responsible for the first whispers of information about the mission that was carried out to kill Bin Laden. That’s how the story broke.
I remember the days when I lived in San Francisco (not all that long ago!) and my morning ritual was: get up very early, practice tai chi at Mission Dolores Park, then head to the café for some jasmine tea with honey and an hour of reading the newspaper. Sigh. Newspapers weigh much less than laptops.
But for depth of coverage journalism via the internet, and increasingly via our new, lighter weight friends like the iPhone and iPad, allow us access to an array of media types and topics that make the newspaper a rather dull and flat experience by comparison.
“Various people have pointed out that the computer revolution is greater than that of the wheel in its power the reshape human outlook and human organization. Whereas the wheel is an extension of the foot, the computer gives us a world where the hand of man never set foot.” – Marshall McLuhan
This is good. And perhaps bad too, you be the judge. The computer gives us a new world, but is this world reality? Or is it what someone wants you to believe, packaged in a cool way? It seems the very definition of journalism is changing. We used to leave journalism to “the professionals” who had standards to reduce personal bias and ensure that what was said was factually correct. Now we get a complex mixture of fact and fiction from the mainstream media, with bias often promoted, often from people with few journalistic credentials, packaged in compelling forms which we seem to believe as factual. This has not yielded such a great outcome politically in the US .
It’s ironic that the rise in fear within US culture since the 9/11 attacks has led directly to a huge rise in mistrust of the government and corporations. This fear was exploited by the media in the form of opinion/news channels, the most obvious being Fox news. Many Americans were deceived by Fox’s mix of opinion shows mimicking authentic journalism but spewing outright lies. Has anyone counted how many times Fox has reported lies as facts? Fox first reported that President Obama was killed instead of Osama Bin Laden!
Add deceptive advertising to the mix and you have a recipe for large-scale manipulation of public opinion. This manipulation of reality via “journalism” got Bush elected and is being used now against Obama. If this is what major news media is doing, is it any wonder that people are increasingly distrustful of these news sources? Is it any wonder that they are turning to those they know personally as their primary sources of news information? Will tweets eventually make formal newscasts obsolete as a source of breaking news?
As this change has taken place in US culture, simultaneously social media has become a popular new source for news, and more often is becoming the first place to find “breaking” news. Until now there has never been an easy way for a whistle-blower to gain an audience… or a charlatan. In other words, one can use media to manipulate an audience, or to increase honest business through authentic engagement (which I know is what YOU want to do). Social media literally is at the forefront of a quiet backlash against the mainstream journalistic media wave of misinformation. People are looking for truth and authentic connection. They are speaking up via an increasing preference for social media.
So how does this relate to you? Easy. We can learn from examining trends like this one. And given this trend, you may wish to start your own “news” show/video blog. As people are becoming more open to alternative sources for the news they want, you have the opportunity to create a valuable source of news for them. If you do a short daily or weekly “show” then you create repeat engagement opportunities for your audience, and slowly you also become someone they may consider an “expert”. By creating value, your potential customers are more inclined to visit you again, and to eventually do business with you!