Soon people may not care about traditional news at all. 34% of older people used the Internet in the latest Mediebarometern survey conducted by Nordicom but only 20% of older users accessed a daily newspaper digitally. Television, the last big thing that was going to kill print (and a radio star), still dominates all segments except ... wait for it ... 15 to 24 year olds. Basically, the future.
50 percent of young people visit YouTube daily and 44 percent of children (9-14 years) play computer and video games online. People have long said that print is dead but it may be that traditional news is dying with it.
So older people still read old media but young people are not buying in - at least not yet. One consequence of this shift in demographic trends, says Ulla Carlsson, Professor at Nordicom, University of Gothenburg, is that fewer people overall access news via traditional mass media, and that decline will continue, including TV news viewing, unless trends change as these younger people age.
The truly bad news for corporations is that digital media is not replacing current mass media, says the survey. Instead, short news texts based on real news and blogging commentary are putting in context news that younger people have not actually seen or read. Basically, we are creating a generation of Daily Show viewers who think that is the actual news.
Sounds bad, right? It depends. For Science 2.0 readers, who are pretty smart, source evaluation can be left to the individual user without much peril. As I discussed in Science Journalists Have Met The Enemy, And They Are Bloggers, a lot of the 'worry' regarding science is panicky big media corporations in science circling the wagons about the essential nature of their expertise (and, as we know, the bias that goes with it) as an essential filter. In science, I can't agree. Readers are smart and that is why science readership is way up while science journalism jobs are evaporating. Science journalists are not needed as much because that Utopian vision of the Internet making people smarter has come to pass, at least in science.
Science readership already has a certain threshold of knowledge built in or it is meaningless to the reader. Not so investigative journalism or politics - there is a certain risk that people's news will be based on their politics (MSNBC and FoxNews being regarded as obviously left and right by their respective detractors, for example) and that will be their only source evaluation. Not exactly great for reaching policy agreements.
When the Media Barometer folks began this 30 years ago, they likely did not envision a world with an Internet or news based on Twitter and even mobile phones but it is here - nearly 90 percent of the population of Sweden has Internet access at home.
But there is hope, at least until older people die. The same proportion of the population read a paper or listen to the radio daily so those venues will last until they no longer make economic sense - and they have already changed to reflect shifting trends, as witnessed by fewer live DJs on radio and an increase in syndicated content in newspapers. People still buy books and watch TV.
It just happens to be people with 'lower' education levels using the radio and watching TV instead of using the Internet. Some of that is age related because older people grew up in a time before college education became a 'right' and therefore a minimum threshold for meaningful employment. Yet that social difference is noticeable across age groups so as we move on, the demographic of old media users will be lower education, even compared to their peers.
These new developments could be a positive for news outlets who learn to understand the New World, the way we have here. Media usage overall is up by 40 minutes a day, almost 6 hours daily in one form or another. The fact that more of it is not traditional news media is an indication that they have lost the trust of the public. Science readers trust scientists so that will not be an issue in Science 2.0.
Nordicom Nordic Information Center for Media and Communication Research
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