Twenty years ago trending news was provided by CBS, NBC, ABC and a handful of national newspapers. Then, in 1980, Ted Turner created the Cable Network News (CNN). For the first time, news was delivered on an hourly rather than daily basis. Since then other cable news powerhouses have emerged including Fox News and MSNBC. These organizations dominate the cable news airways. Today, however, and even more powerful medium has emerged to transmit news: the internet.
The internet has numerous advantages. It’s instantaneous. It has an unlimited of number of citizen reporters. Lastly, it is becoming universally pervasive in all cultures. The news cycle brought on by 24/7 cable news outlets demanded an inexhaustible source of news regardless of quality or voracity.
Since then our consumption of news has become an addiction. Internet news sites have literally destroyed the old trending news model. In today’s environment journalism often suffers due to the rigorous demands of simply publishing a story before the competition. News stories that broke more than an hour ago are sometimes considered old. Rarely do stories stay current for more than 24 hours. When they do, it’s a story that is rated based on news site traffic rather than one that affects your daily life.
If a news organization is to survive it must constantly publish new stories. With the internet able to react instantly to all forms of news, and with massive distribution channels available to the average person the internet literally drives the news.
Like snowballs rolling downhill the speed is not slowing but increasing. Now we have massive social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook that can easily reach millions of readers in seconds. These sites can drive a news story into national or international prominence within minutes. At no time in our history have 140 characters been able to make or break national fortunes. Now they can.
Look at more recent events surrounding the “Arab Spring”. Thousands of average people reported on events occurring within their borders. Most of the news dissemination was done through texting and social networks. Protests were actually coordinated and reported through the use of these networks. The native governments found themselves powerless. Only now are we seeing how governments are reacting.
The recent blacking out of cell tower sites in San Francisco to stop a planned protest is a premonition of what we can expect to see more of as internet based news generation increases.