Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Social Networking

Today's New York Times contained this interesting article that I can only read as a full frontal assault on social networking. Anyone who reads the times knows that it has been critical of social networking in the past; even going so far as to call services like Twitter a "pariah that devalues real journalism" and saying it fosters the "me first" mentality.

I think we all understand why the Times says this stuff: they're scared. We live in a world where news now routinely breaks on networks like Twitter and Facebook before it even crosses traditional news wires and that can be a pretty terrifying thing for old school journalists. The landscape is changing and they are finding themselves in a brave new world where fewer and fewer people are waiting on them to deliver the facts and, instead, often providing the news to them quicker than they can get it themselves.

Personally, I think the Times is misplacing blame. The problem facing traditional journalism has nothing to do with Twitter or Facebook or any one piece of social media. It's a problem of adaptation. We live in an increasingly mobile society where information is in constant flow. When something happens on one side of the world it's often only a matter of seconds before news of it is delivered via text message, email, tweet, or Facebook post to millions of people on the other side. Traditional journalism is stuck in an old age with old, broken, protocols and they will continue to see their influence decline until they adapt to the way people want their news: immediate and delivered wherever they are.

No, the problem isn't Twitter. It's a simple issue of adapt or die. Unfortunately, we might be seeing the final death throes of traditional media. Long live new media.

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