I have dinner plans tonight, which means I’ll miss the American Idol final results show. What are the odds I’ll find out who the winner is before I get to watch it?
Pretty good if I pick up my handheld or get near a computer. So to maintain the surprise (and even that’s difficult with word of mouth – I can’t ban my dinner companions from checking their phones), I’ll avoid spoilers at all costs. The fact is news of the American Idol winner will spread like wild fire. It will be virtually impossible to avoid seeing or hearing about it until the next day – or even later in the evening.
The availability of this information is incredibly different than it was just a few years ago. I’ve been in PR for less than a decade, and already I can reminisce about how different it was “back then.” You know, the old days when the news was conveyed in a traditional cycle. This meant, for daily papers, it was my job to help reporters finish a story by their 3 p.m. deadline, and the news would hit the stands the next morning. Typically, any newsworthy announcements that transpired close to or after that time would wait until the next day – and without any risk of being late or trumped.
Now, the cycle is considered “24-Hours,” meaning instantaneous. Blogs, online publications and social media (Facebook even has its own 24-Hour News Cycle page) are just as influential (if not more) in spreading news as compared to traditional print or broadcast media. Hitwise even claimed earlier this year that Facebook may be the largest newsreader.
Gone are the days when news breaks in the morning paper. If I check Facebook or Twitter or dink around on MSN, I’ll get the Idol results whether I want to or not. It’s tough to miss when even Facebook is asking users to be news aggregators.
Today, news dissemination is very different – but for the better. News can break any time of day – all day long – and you have the ability to hit more people in your target audience faster thanks to “opt-in” newsfeeds. Online media is one of the most effective ways to share your news.
The instantaneous news cycle makes my job so much more exciting. Although, in instances where I miss an important piece of real time news (and yes, the American Idol results fall into that category for me), the instantaneous news cycle is a double-edged sword.
And going even further, the Internet shares news even faster than live television! Michael Jackson’s death was swirling around online well before it made it to TV news. And, the states’ Electoral College voting results for the most recent presidential election went viral before it was announced on CNN’s real time election coverage.
How will the news cycle evolve from here? I don’t know, but it’s exciting!
– Melinda Hepp