In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I am going to talk about relationships. By that I mean the relationships between news, journalists, readers and technology.
New technology is affording journalists and news organizations an opportunity to connect with readers on a more personal level. This connection is so crucial because the size of the public sphere makes it increasingly difficult to be heard and compete with all of the “noise”.
According to Robert Picard, this personal connection is best utilized by small, local news organizations because they can connect with a city on a more intimate level. He also says that new technology like social and digital media help large news organizations be omnipresent. I would argue that a personal connection is more significant to journalists than being omnipresent, and with a strategic plan large news organizations can establish that intimate connection with its readers.
For example, the most popular story from the New York Times this year was a quiz that was made using these new digital technologies. I would agree with Joy Mayer when she said that this is a model for journalists to measure success and a new way to reach readers. I think one of the reasons this quiz was so popular is because it connects with individuals on a personal level by addressing their hometown.
The quiz also invoked a certain level of curiosity: “Will it work for me?” I know this thought went through my head, and I took the quiz, and the result was spot on.
This brings me to another important point raised by Duncan Watts. According to Mr. Watts, most people do not make decisions independently, but they act on influences from their social network, friends and family. He attributed this to cumulative advantage. From my understanding, cumulative advantage means that if a product or idea is more valued over another, then that value will accumulate over time, and the product or idea will become more popular.
The NYT quiz was shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. So everyone who shared the quiz influenced their network and helped build cumulative advantage for this piece of another NYT story.
The conclusion reached by Ms. Mayer, and one that I agree with, is that journalists do not decide the value of a story. The public does. And if the public are the ones setting the agenda now, it would be beneficial for more larger news organizations to connect with them on a personal level like the NYT did.
Fortunately for news organizations that are inexperienced with social media and digital technologies, there are many great resources on the Internet that are helpful in forming a strategic communication plan.
Note to journalists: Your relationships matter.