Becoming Professional: A Blog

Your Behavior Is Shaping Publishing’s Future

Posted on: May 9, 2011

Yes, you are that important. Well, at least you in aggregate. Just having the tools available to change the world won’t do much if the behaviors and habits aren’t in place to use them. Today’s content consumer not only has the tools but the behaviors to shape how digital media consumption and delivery will work in the years to come.

The two main behaviors that are affecting digital media’s place in our world are sharing and shopping around.

mail box with flowers

by kla4067 on Flickr

We Share Everything

We are share-happy, passing on restaurant reviews, news articles, comments on current events, and their our own insights with equal enthusiasm. I’d guess that sharing is on the rise and only going to get bigger.

Sharing has already had a tangible effect on the way digital media is consumed and used. Josh Catone tells of how sharing launched the Minneapolis/St Paul television station WCCO into celebrity. The station broke the news of a star NFL quarterback signing on with the Vikings with a Twitter post, before it even got the article up on the website. That day “WCCO” became a trending topic on Twitter. This only happens when people ReTweet or mention a subject a lot, thus sharing it. This fame helped the station to gain notoriety and build a reputation amongst Vikings fans, something important in the battle for attention. Clay Shirky, in his book Here Comes Everybody gives another example of the power of sharing: how the Boston Globe in 2002 published a string of articles about a Catholic priest’s pedophilia and forced the Catholic Church to reform. Of course, it wasn’t actually the Boston Globe. It was the hundreds of people it reached via sharing. Not everyone in Boston would care about this story. But Catholics around the world sure would, and did. Thanks to sharing and new forms of communication, people beyond the circulation boundaries of the Globe were able to communicate and organize themselves, spreading the news as they did so and giving the Globe a whole new audience to work with.

shopping bags held by a girl

by andrewarchy on Flickr

We Like to Shop Around for News Sources

The days of getting all your news from your local morning paper are long gone. People no longer have to sift through a bunch of filler to find the articles they want to read. Instead they are having that done automatically with news aggregators or a simple Google search.

This means that people are now getting their news from a variety of different sources. Sports from Yahoo, Politics from MSNBC, and society news from a list of cool bloggers. People are not going directly to websites anymore, they are going to RSS readers, link aggregators and social networks like Twitter. The articles can be thought of separately from the actual publisher because the reader isn’t going to that publisher, she is simply going to a cool story hosted on that publisher’s website. From there, the publisher may be able to rout the reader to something new on their website, but maybe not. As Clay Shirky points out in this talk, websites don’t have a front page because each page is a front page with the ability to grab and keep a reader’s attention. But because people are browsing multiple sources for stories rather than just a single newspaper, it is hard to get the consumer to click on the link and go to the website. The competition for that click is tougher because all the news sources are lined up next to each other with nothing but a brand name, short description, and a headline to work with. And worse, the newspapers don’t know who the potential readers are because much browsing is done on aggregator websites. It’s hard to target specific demographics without knowing who you are talking to.

The Future Will Look…

… different. My crystal ball gets bad reception, so I can’t predict how publishing will look in a few years, or even tomorrow. But, however it looks it will be shaped to accommodate sharing and aggregated browsing. I like to think that both sharing and aggregated browsing will meld, kind of like Digg or even StumbleUpon. It may even become a layer to a social networking site.

What do you think?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.


7 Responses to "Your Behavior Is Shaping Publishing’s Future"

I have to go along with your main point that the digital market place is gaining priority over more traditional forms of media. But the wrench that I have to throw into the works here is the fact that a lot of people do not look to their RSS feed necessarily for Hard News. There is a huge difference between a blog and a news outlet that has earned the respect and readership of its demographic. But even these are changing. Traditional Newspapers are going By By… Your finding that a large majority of the major news companies are making the transit to a digitized format; The E-Reader is putting a nail into the coffin of the printing press with every newspaper company that transits to a purely digital distribution, and every major publisher that explores release of best sellers through a digital format as the main source of revenue. The Public, the majority of america, they pull their news from wherever they trust. There has always been a larger majority of our generation that has been concerned with what major sports stars are doing and if Lindsey Lohan has fallen off the wagon; but there is still a large demographic of us that are hungry for knowledge of current events, whats going on in the community around us, on a local and national level. I think these are going to be hold outs that are going to show loyalty to their trusted sources.

The Newspaper is not Dead, it just went Green

I like that: It went green! The tree-hugger in me is tempted to steal that for a slogan. But as to your “wrench,” the RSS feed is only one location, an example. Online it is amazingly easy to flit from news publisher to news publisher. People may get local news from one location, but go to the Weather Channel for all things weather. People no longer go to one source for all news. And those that are “hungry for knowledge of current events,” as you put it, will visit multiple sources easily to get the full picture. Any rebuttals?

Rebuttals… lets see… I agree that people that are hungry for information are going to search for multiple resources; but this does not change the fact that some of these resources are going to garner less respect and trust than others.

Now, if I hear from a blog post that the Republican Party has decided to allow a Monkey to be their campaign manager for their next campaign, I would “believe” it to a certain degree, but that does not change the fact that when the New York Times releases a story stating the Monkey’s name and that he is being paid with Banana Splits that I will truely believe. It all goes back to how big the grain of salt is going to be with certain resources… I “Read” TMZ knowing to take it with a Bolder, where as I read People with something more akin to table salt.

I might go to multiple sights, but I only really trust a select few.

Great discussion.

Tyler, I think the issue of ‘trusted sources’ is important, but this doesn’t just apply to mainstream media. I know plenty of non-mainstream blogs that have very loyal and trusting readers.

Establishing trust is a key skill for today’s publishers and influencers. I can recommend the book Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith for more on this topic:

I agree, Professor, but would like to add that not all trust is warranted. Branding is of critical importance in the new digital publishing landscape. I have not read Trust Agents yet (It is on my list!), so I don’t know if it deals with this aspect of trust.

I agree with you 100% on this Kate.

Kinda makes me feel silly, as I am “Branded” myself 😉

I will have to add that to my reading list for the next patrol. Might pick it up for the flight to Miami. Thanks for the recommendation.
Very Respectfully…

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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