[Not-Exaggerated Reports] Death of the Primary Source

It always helps getting the week’s digital media news in four minute bites – one of the reasons I have PBS MediaShift’s Four-Minute Roundup queued in my podcast subscriptions. Way I saw it, there were two really major stories in the space: one of which I covered* and one I just tweeted about and walked away from. 4MR had them both this week (among a couple one-offs), but something definitely stood out to me in the latter discussion of the Pew media consumption survey that I chose not to write about.

Host Mark Glaser was able to secure Tom Rosenstiel of Pew, so that definitely provided a little more weight to the study that was released on Monday than I ever could. In the “Just One Question” portion of 4MR, Rosenstiel said something that really jumped out at me (transcribed by me from the podcast):

“People no longer have a primary source for news, that they really graze across multiple platforms on a typical day, and online that they graze across multiple sites. But also, that they don’t graze very far. ‘I get a little TV, a little radio, I get a little this, a little that, and then when I go online, I don’t really range across the entire Internet.'”

I could not agree more with what Rosenstiel is saying. If there’s any change in the way I consume news from the generation before me, it’s this notion. This happens on nearly every platform: when it comes to daily newspapers, they are a single, primary source for a shrinking demographic. Evening news used to be non-miss because it was a single flash-point for the day, but by the time 5:30 rolls around these days, all of the stories they report are hours old it seems.

I’m not the norm consumer, I know that. I have hundreds of feeds and try to keep up as best I can with myriad sources – and the fact that sometimes they act as news originators (the research definition of primary source) as well as secondary sources is another study in itself. But even the luddites among us are likely well beyond that single source, full course meal of news. The fancy banquet is gone – the buffet is here to stay.

*Side: Glaser did mention a piece by Andrew Baron about the Viacom/Hulu story, and complimented and discussed Baron’s thesis that Viacom’s goal was centralizing its Web content. I agree that this is Viacom’s objective, but I think it’s a misguided strategy. Centralizing/grounding your content to one site isn’t necessarily better than removing it from a much larger destination where your audience and potential audience are going.

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One Comment on “[Not-Exaggerated Reports] Death of the Primary Source”

  1. […] be excellent to pass along here. It’s like the much smarter, visual representation of that “no more primary source” argument I made over the […]


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