Posts Tagged ‘Pew Research Center’


Facebook, Snapchat and political journalism

Social media competition will be developing ahead of the 2016 election. (Image: Pixabay/CCP

Social media competition will be developing ahead of the 2016 election. (Image: Pixabay under CC license)

As media coverage continues to intensify of the campaigns for the 2016 presidential election, at the helm is social media, and how that will likely influence coverage. There are however new platforms in play compared to events in 2012, and there now appears to be a debate at play among platforms on engaging younger audiences in political coverage.

Earlier this month, a study from the Pew Research Center indicated social media, particularly Facebook, was the dominant platform when it came to young people consuming political news. 61 percent of them got news from the social network compared to 37 percent for local television.

The news of that poll came as the Los Angeles based Snapchat, a social network aimed at younger audiences which is still trying to find its footing, continues its work to hire journalists to shape coverage of the election on the platform. Earlier this year, it hired Peter Hamby, a Washington based correspondent at CNN, to become its head of news.

Both social networks are undergoing significant change when it comes to the broader relationship with social media and journalism. Facebook is doing tests on its Instant Articles initiative and whether users can respond to it, an initiative that may likely be at the center of engagement during the campaigns. Snapchat is also trying to establish an editorial strategy outside of its Discover feature launched in January, and while we are bereft of the facts surrounding it at present, it is looking to become a dominant player among millennials and election coverage, a remarkable rise for the network depending on what Hamby does.

Indeed, these are early days, and a winner of this debate between Facebook and Snapchat cannot be called yet. One thing is for certain, however. In the days, weeks and months ahead, while the candidates face off to be their party’s nomination for the seat in the Oval Office, two social networks will face off to be the preferred network for political engagement with millennials.

News organizations, in order to engage with younger audiences, must be ready to experiment to engage, or be left behind. This campaign will change not just the politics of the United States and how its seen internationally, but how it is covered. It is up to us, as journalists, how we’ll reply.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. Veeneman also contributes to The News Hub web site. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Dissecting the State of the News Media 2015

There is no denying the media landscape is shifting toward a mobile and digital focus, and on cue the Pew Research Center confirmed it. Last week Pew released the State of the News Media 2015, reaffirming the growth of mobile and digital journalism, while not reporting on the most promising data for legacy media. In the report’s 12th year, it has released some interesting information about digital audiences and advertising that journalism outlets should be paying attention to.

Out of the 50 websites Pew used for its report, 39 received the majority of their traffic from mobile devices opposed to desktop computers. This exemplifies the importance of news outlets marketing their product to users on mobile devices, whether it is through apps or social media — news organizations need to meet their audience where they are. The mobile traffic for these websites has been important for these news organizations, but the next step is turning these high numbers of mobile visitors into quality visitors who spend a significant amount of time on the website.

While mobile visitors are more prominent than desktop visitors, desktop visitors spend a significantly more time on the websites once they are there. Out of the same 50 websites, only 10 has mobile visitors spending more time on the websites than desktop visitors. This finding gives news organizations a tangible area in which they can research and improve in. Looking into where the activity difference stems from between mobile and desktop visitors is key in improving the quality of the visits. There may be room for mobile websites’ design to be improved to encourage visitors to spend more time on the websites or there may need to be content created that is more suitable for mobile audiences.

The growth of digital advertising is important because of the transition away from relying on revenue from print advertising. News organizations had previously relied heavily on print advertising to sustain their business model, but with the decrease in print sales the system is no longer sustainable. Pew reported that $50.7 billion was spent on digital advertising in 2014, which was a 18 an percent increase from 2013. This shows companies are further understanding the importance that digital traffic can play in generating revenue. The companies buying the ads are benefitting and the news organizations are benefitting from the increased revenue. Mobile has also been a focus of digital ad spending, increasing 78% from 2013 to $19 billion. Smartphones and tablets have become too prevalent for there not be specific focus shown to mobile sites. The high numbers of mobile visitors coincides with the ad spending.

These numbers exemplify that digital and mobile journalism is here to stay, and will most likely continue to expand in the coming years. The State of the News Media shows news organizations need to take the digital journalism realm seriously if they want to compete on a serious level. And beyond just taking the digital world seriously, the increasing mobile numbers show significant attention should be paid to this area in the coming years to benefit as much as possible from that audience.

Taylor Barker, a member of the Ithaca College chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, is the student representative for SPJ Digital. Barker is also an editorial intern for The Miss InformationYou can follow her on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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