Old media versus new media. You may be familiar with these terms – especially if you are someone that regularly visits news websites, blogs or appreciates citizen journalism. If you are not familiar, but frequent sites like YouTube, or Flickr, you are enjoying new media without even knowing it. Yes, even this blog counts.
In any case, I have been thinking about how shows like The Hour are mixing the old and the new and having varying degrees of success with the mix. There are many aspects to this topic so I am thinking that a few blog entries will result from my reflections. Let’s begin with how old media can often lag behind new media in terms of what they report.
I am tempted to subtitle this entry ‘the decline of the supper time news hour’. It comes from my observation of the ABC World News that airs on week nights. I generally like their coverage (especially enjoyed it when Peter Jennings was the anchor) and I watch it after my local news to gain a quick American perspective on things. However, it happens routinely that they report something that I have already learned about 2 days before via the Internet (sometimes I saw it a week before or even months before). I have heard it said that the traditional supper time news show is for older generations and during these yesterday’s news moments I believe it. It is not for the younger web savvy folk. (It is also reinforced when I see all of those commercials for prescription medication and chronic illness.)
These belated news items indicate to me that they are playing catch-up for baby boomers and seniors, getting them up to speed with what the kids these days already know. Their viewership did not find the news item in question on their own so they talk about it during the TV news hour. At least, this is how it seems. Still, that does not explain why the producers and journalists either take their time in finding the news item or bringing it to air. Does it only become TV newsworthy when it is old news for the people who get the bulk of their information from new media news sources?
I find that The Hour is not so behind. Yes, there have been the occasional items that were time delayed. Minor ones like how I first heard about the condoms size issue in India back in December. Though this is more an exception than the rule. Especially this season I find that George will typically mention something the very day that it comes to light on the Internet. At least for the news items. The scheduling of interviews clearly are affected by availability - not a timeliness issue.
I imagine that the Hour writers and producers are much like me - surfing the Net, seeking out newsworthy stories big and small, as well as randomly finding things that turn into bigger stories. I do it for my own knowledge (and for some blogging I do). It is a part of my generation’s culture to access and exchange information in this manner. Even more so for those younger than I. Quick example - I attended SXSW Interactive this year and experienced the Twitter explosion. Digital word of mouth came alive. It was really neat.
Likely there are many on The Hour’s staff who, like me and others outside of old media, do the whole search the web thing as much for their own purposes as they do it to spread the word to those who don’t have the time, opportunity or inclination to do it for themselves. It seems to me that many in the TV news hour business are acting as a bridge between an older world and a newer one. The Hour happens to be more relevant and timely compared to many other old media news sources.