Clarity Blog

Clarity Blog

How things change

Laer will be giving a media training presentation to a professional association next week. As part of that presentation, we are including a slide on today’s media climate. We made one back in 2006 for a similar presentation and decided to start there. We all knew back in 2006 the power that the internet had to get information out. But what we couldn’t predict was how much the media landscape would change—and how quickly.

In 2006 the “Media Today” slide in our PowerPoint read:

  • 1,300 television stations
  • 8,000 cable systems
  • 1,300 radio stations
  • 1,700 daily newspapers
  • 8,000 weekly newspapers
  • 12,000 magazines
  • 3 major news wire services
  • 5,000,000 Weblogs (a.k.a. “blogs”)
  • 5,250,000,000 Web sites

As we started to update the information, the sharp decline of traditional media and the complete absence of social media from the 2006 presentation became apparent. In 2006, Facebook was still a social tool for college students and Twitter only had a few thousand users, who were probably all tweeting “how does the @ sign work again?”

We also noticed how the language to describe the media has changed over four years. In that short period of times weblogs became blogs and Web sites websites. Even the way people get their traditional media has changed. DVRs mean viewers can watch the evening news at 3 a.m. and online websites allow people to get up-to-the-minute news from their phones.

Taking all of this into account, here is what our new slide looks like:

  • 1,500 television channels – five 24-hour news channels
  • 1,470 daily newspapers (down from 1,700 in 2000)
  • 1,700 talk radio stations (compared to 1,300 total radio stations in 2000)
  • 24,000 magazines (down from 30,000 in 2000)
  • 28 million Digital Video Recorders (DVRs, which did not exist in 2000)
  • 126 million blogs, up from 5 million
  • 25 billion websites – a five-fold increase
  • 45.5 million smart phones
  • 190 million Twitter users
  • 350 million Facebook users
  • 1 billion videos on YouTube
  • 44 percent: the number of Americans get their news from online or mobile sources

The changes can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. Social media can quickly and cheaply take your message to the masses that care most about what you have to say. They bypass the media that may misrepresent you and allow you to disseminate your message in your own words. But it also has a dark side. Social media has no code of ethics, no editing and no discretion. Anyone can say anything and find an audience for their message, which is particularly scary when you are in the middle of a crisis.

This is why we feel that all organizations need to be a part of the conversation. It’s important to use these platforms and build relationships before a crisis happens in order to have people’s attention when you have to get your message out. If you want some help learning how to handle the media or help getting involved with new media drop us a line, post it to our wall, or send us a tweet. We’ll be listening.

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