Ever since Kate Middleton officially became the future Queen of England the world waited with baited breath for the announcement of a new heir to the throne. So when the news broke, albeit fairly prematurely, how did you hear? And, more importantly, where were you? Unless you are in the 50% of the population who don’t have a smartphone, or the 10% without access to the internet (who are you!?), it’s unlikely that the story broke while you were settling down with a cuppa to watch the 6 O’Clock News.
While the deaths of Elvis, JFK and Princess Diana eventually made print headlines around the world, it was word of mouth, radio reports and televised news bulletins which were the most effective means of news communication. Likewise, in an era when the internet was in its infancy, many turned to the television or tuned in to the radio to follow the 9/11 atrocities.
Fast-forward to 2013 and it’s the internet that dominates the dissemination of news. Whether we are updating our social networking sites or surfing the web, we’re instantly exposed to real-time breaking news. Even when we’re out and about, the flowering of the smartphone phenomenon means we don’t need to be sitting at our computers to digest the latest breaking news stories. Reading on the go through smartphones and tablets means we know the main headlines immediately, wherever we are. So does this mean that broadcast news is reaching its sell-by date?
There’s certainly merit in being able to react to breaking news on your daily commute – and Twitter and Facebook allow users to instantly interact with news, voice opinion and contribute to spreading the buzz. There is also an argument to say that more people are likely to be accessing news because of its availability and convenience, indeed, many media outlets are launching smartphone-friendly sites to make the news more instant and user-friendly. However, a 2012 survey by the US-based Pew Research Centre reported some interesting trends regarding news acquisition Stateside. While more news outlets were predicted to move to digital subscriptions last year, television news viewership actually grew by 4.5% – a nod to viewers’ interest in accessing big, visually-oriented news stories. Although television may no longer be the primary source of news, the figure suggests that, when a hard-hitting international story breaks, consumers are quick to reach for the remote.
So maybe there’s an argument to say that both news mediums can co-exist. While we can consume a snapshot of a story on the go, or read a longer article online, the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date version of a news story can also be viewed on the hour from your sofa, now pass the chocolate digestives….
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve consumed breaking news and did that make it even more memorable?