A lot has been written about how digital media has numbered the days of more “traditional” news outlets, such as newspapers and television. A report out today from Gallup would tend to indicate, as Mark Twain would say, the demise of television has been greatly exaggerated.
Gallup reports today that television still dominates as American’s first choice for news. Fully 55% of Americans get their news about current events from television, followed by 21% from the internet. While digital news has swamped newspapers (only 9% indicate newspapers as their primary source), it has not displaced television.
I’m old enough to remember the news about crazy men like Ted Turner, who had a vision of 24/7 information delivery via cable channels. At that time, Americans got their news primarily from newspapers and the three large networks, ABC, CBS and NBC. The reaction Turner received varied between “give it a year” and projections of his imminent bankruptcy. Within a few years, that scorn had changed to clarion calls that the Big Three broadcast channels were staring at extinction. Neither extreme proved to be true.
What happened was the delivery channels were split, with news consumers getting more options. The pie, in other words, was merely split into smaller pieces. The same is now happening with the advent of digital media and the internet.
Yes, an increasing number of people are looking to digital for news. Yet television still dominates the market. Newspapers have taken a distinct hit in their market share, but I believe they’ve hit bottom and with aggressive moves into the digital space will find their balance. The pie has merely been cut into smaller slices yet again.
For our clients, it’s important to be everywhere: television, radio, print and internet. When we need to drive the news, we do it in a coordinated fashion. This not only ensures we hit our audiences, but gives us repetition in news cycles. There is no “silver bullet”…you have to be everywhere your audience is looking.
Television is a unique medium. It combines important moving visuals with delivery by news people you (hopefully) trust. If you don’t trust that host, there are hundreds of other options. It allows a vast amount of programming and entertainment options due to its 24/7 nature and bandwidth. And among other news outlets, it is uniquely situated to augment itself in the digital space.
Whether television remains at the top of the news business is yet to be seen. My money says it will.