Influential blogger Jeff Jarvis continues to make provocative arguments on why and how journalism is evolving in the face of social media and technological advances. In this recent article, Jarvis posits that the foundation, or best source, for relevant news coverage is no longer the article, but rather the topic itself. In his argument Jarvis suggests that articles are inherently incomplete, isolated, repetitive and temporary and cannot adequately present information.
Just think about it…how many times have you been fully satisfied in a search by finding one article on a specific story or topic? Typically my searches cover a wide range of sources (via specific searches and/or aggregators) and a fair amount of digging to get a complete picture. If I’m lazy, I’ll settle on the more comprehensive and authoritative sources (e.g. WSJ or CNN.com.) But even these sources are insular. As Jarvis suggests, news items need to be dynamic and linked to other sources to be truly relevant and complete. Increasingly, I’ll go to Wikipedia or be lucky enough to find a good social media release, which will provide me with a good sample of material…and a number of links to dig for more.
The interesting twist on this argument is what it means for those trying to influence the media process - namely PR professionals. As I’ve said before on this blog, I find far too many practitioners are woefully ignorant of social media trends and continue to pitch like back in the 90′s…or even 80′s. As Jarvis suggests, this modus operandi is in danger of becoming even more irrelevant, and ineffective. The smart agencies and companies have recognized the evolving needs and preferences of users and are making it easier for news-hungry consumers to get a rich and balanced perspective. (Check out this social media release by Cisco as one example.) It will be interesting to revisit this issue in a few months to see if and how things have changed.