Big stories are media tornadoes, shaking up audiences as the news outlets hustle to get the story out and capture viewers. Hurricane Katrina launched Anderson Cooper to his own news segment. The latest, breaking must-know version pulls us in as we need to know. Fox News gained audience share when it blew past CNN on the 9/11 coverage.
The Great Financial Crisis is the perfect storm that will push new media to flesh out its online potential. Alan Greenspan calls it a "once in a lifetime credit tsunami" -- a far cry from his idea of irrational exuberance of yesteryear. The story flew to the front pages in mid-September and October was a scary month. ComScore reports: Only 26% of consumers believe the economy will be better a year from now; 82% are more fearful about the economic future than ever before.
The Dow is down 28% year-to-date; 83% of voters listed the economy as the major issue. After an up day election day, the Dow had its worst two-day fall in history this week.
Big Media is coming apart at the seams (see Part I) and Media Daily News writes that "there is no historical precedent, given the powerful unraveling of the global economy" and the big lumbering media giants are going to bite the dust. Pew Research Center for People and the Press reports that the internet has overtaken newspapers as the main source where people look for campaign news.
The Global Financial News Crisis is the Black Swan creating the perfect storm for change that is going to create a watershed event for news, I believe. The online news sites already launched into heavenly orbits with the political campaign cycle, creating heavy hitters like The Huffington Post and Politico, up 472% and 344%, respectfully, from a year ago. But unlike politics which is keyed into the 24/7 news cycle, the Global Financial Crisis is harder to understand and is the perfect story throwing out up-to-the-minute breaking news that sway markets, globally. A flap of a butterfly wing in Madrid can cause a drop in the Dow a financial writer notes. Will educated older readers have incentive to shift to online reading through this story? Deeper links and timeliness are what pulls people in and the online media can provide the latest, breaking news in depth (for those readers educated enough to want to seek out the news). Some have said that this Global Financial News Crisis is the death knell to the evening news.
A good example of how online media is prepared to go deep w/ the Global Finanical crisis: WaPo's profits plummet 85.8% in the 3Q, but online revenues grew 13%. Newspaper Death Watch has this: the top 23 newspapers collectively lost about 6% of daily circulation over the last 6 months while online traffic is up on online almost 16%. As the print side continues to trend downward, in mid-October WaPo launched the Economy Watch section that provides deeper content stories for the financial crisis. The stories are timed and dated, unlike the online Wall Street Journal stories that show neither a date or time on the front page. (Bloomberg and the WSJ are media as sideline: Rupert Murdoch only wanted a newspaper when he bought the Dow Jones and he's probably delighted now "the “enterprise” side of the business (Factiva, etc.) is throwing off so much cash," reports Rex Hammock from the Future of Business Media Conference. He also reported on comments made by Robert Thompson, editor-in-chief, Dow Jones & Co. and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal who said that in October "there will be 30 million unique visitors at WSJ.com" with a lot of free content. Thompson said that no, WSJ is not headed to a digital only world. Well, if they were dependent on news audiences alone for profit, I think they would be very concerned about their dark ages web presence. Hammock also reported an interview with chief content officer of Bloomberg Norm Pearlstine. Bloomberg's simple one-page online news opening page has headlines only and times in three global zones across the top but and is growing in readership through the crisis.)
According to an August report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the percentage of those who say they had read a newspaper on a given day has dropped from 50% in 1998 to 34% in 2008. At the same time, those who have gone to the Web for news at least three days per week jumped from 13% to 37%. I think this is the year the numbers blast off.
Media Shift reports that economic bloggers are gaining clout with this crisis (for the same reason that audiences are tiring of traditional journalism) because they "tend to go beyond the he-said-she-said level of reporting on the economy, while a reporter simply quotes a few experts with opposing views." And, as the specialty bloggers have gained credibility, journalists have started tapping into their expertise. Sites like CNN with its CNN Money page and HuffingtonPost with its new-last-month Big News Page for the Financial Crisis, pull in readers that want specialized news.
Reading James Surowiecki (author of The Wisdom of Crowds), in November 3rd's New Yorker, which is now fully online for subscribers, has the link availabl to non-subscribers, is old news by the time I get it in print. Like more online sites aiming for deeper news coverage, the New Yorker writer explains hedge funds and writes that the madness of crowds wasn’t the whole story--"...It’s hard enough to catch a falling knife."
American Journalism Review notes that the future of the newspaper will be the elite newspaper -- offering "analysis, interpretation and investigative reporting" to "the educated, opinion-leading, news-junkie core of the audience" who "will insist on it as a defense against 'persuasive communication,' the euphemism for advertising, public relations and spin that exploits the confusion of information overload."
Indications are that Americans will keep retrenching, ending the longest economic expansion on record and the economy is the major story of the moment. I'm cutting out the non-essential magazines. Oh, wait. I've already done that, except the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly and a few others I like to curl up with. I no longer have papers delivered to my doorstep.
There will be winners and losers over the coverage of this story, now named The Global Financial Crisis and the economic event itself has created a perfect storm for drastic changes in the mediasphere.
Blogging on the subject starts with
Bigge$st Cri$i$ and Media--
Media Grabs the Big Story: Global Financial Crisis
The Art and Names of the Global Financial Crisis
How Now Brown (Economy)
Panic, Collapse & Meltdown overtake Crisis as Descriptive Word
Contemporary & Old Media: A Perfect Storm Part I