Something I wrote about at length a bit more than two years ago is the use of social media to find news about friends rather than traditional news.

See my December 2010 blog.

Since then, I have visited traditional news sites less and less. The news site I refer to in that blog post was somewhere I visited daily (and had done for five years or so) but it doesn’t even register on the Chrome list of sites I visit often.

Why the change?

I guess there are three reasons:

i) The type of content I am interested in is now on Facebook – so any person / group / issue I care about (from pop star to football team to climate change) have users I follow who post content – quite often daily. So I can read updates from the source of the news for them.

ii) Any other news, particularly breaking news, appears in Facebook streams pretty quick – I heard about the pope abdicating on Facebook and the meteorite hit in Russia via Twitter. Anything which comes up can be verified by a Google search and clicking on the first reputable news source it brings up.

iii) The radio station where I live, and the local print newspaper, each have Facebook streams and post reasonably regularly, so any local news appears in my stream (no need to buy a paper anymore as they are giving it away in another medium) and if it is of interest I take a look.

The future of news appears to be social. Quite how money is made from that, I am unsure.

I am frustrated by the Murdoch pay wall, as content from their cannot be shared (or if it can, it would seem only with other subscribers – feel free to tell me if I am not understanding how that works correctly) as far as I can tell it is working out for him, but his news output is not coming my way online.

which do you read first?

December 7, 2010

News is about people. Traditional news covers people such as Prime Ministers, Presidents, leaders of business and so on.

Once upon a time these were all packaged up in newspapers published each day, then broadcast in news bulletins on the wireless every hour and later on TV.

All of this information has moved online – you can read, watch or listen to news as it happens from anywhere in the world. I am quite interested in Aussie politics and read about it at The Age (Melbourne) or The Sydney Morning Herald.

So for free (well, the ongoing cost of my web connection), I can know what is happening to politicians and business leaders on the other side of the planet.

But the web has done something else. I can also read news from hundreds (or thousands if I want) of ordinary people. On Facebook via my PC or mobile I can see a stream of updates from people I see everyday and people I see from time to time (I get updates from my friend in Cambridgeshire and know what is happening to her most days, whereas Before Facebook (BF) we maybe spoke once a month / two months, which involved lots of catching up) and from people I haven’t seen for years.

These events I read about are happening to people, and to those folks and to me, these are news stories. Just not in the traditional sense where news values tell you what the Deputy PM does is news, while what my friend CH does in Cambs is unlikely to make the front page of the Sunday Times (as that DPM story did – havent connected to the original story due to the Rupert Murdoch paywall, which I have mentioned before).

I like news in the traditional sense and I like news in this new sense of status updates / feeds / streams which people I know are uploading. This blog I am writing will appear in feeds, sometimes it is commented upon, sometimes re-tweeted or pinged back. Certainly it is read by a few people and to some, on some level it is news that I have written it. Mostly I write commentary on other events (whether readers agree or not is of course up to them) rather than breaking news here.

Altho my Facebook updates will from time to time break news about my life – the biggest one (so far!) being when my son was born. I got messages and comments from all over the world within only a few hours and in some cases from people I havent seen in years.

A friend of mine was on a plane at the time and he landed to discover a voicemail from his mother demanding to know why he hadn’t told her that my boy had arrived – she had seen the Facebook pictures as well – he hadn’t even heard yet as he’d been on a flight. While my brother-in-law who hadn’t been around for the 24+ hours labour as I had, could have uploaded his photos first, while I slept, but told me later he thought it right he wait so I could upload the first photos. I was grateful for this and am glad he had a concept of Facebook etiquette.

I find it interesting that when I click the arrow on Firefox to look for most visited sites, the top two are always the same. One is a news site, the other is Facebook.

One of the life observations I have is whether I look at Facebook or traditional news first more often?

I know when I am expecting an update from a friend I will always look there first. But when I am just browsing while I wait for a train or for someone to arrive, is it the friend stream or the traditional news stream which I go to first? I am going to pay more attention to this.

Please feel free to let me know which one you go for first.

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