In case you hadn’t heard, Facebook unrolled a series of changes to its website last week and started up a waaaambulance of complaints from its users, all angry that their streaming content world had been disrupted. In the past such changes would bring a mention or two on the national news and perhaps a blurb in traditional print media. Those days are long gone.
The more people get their information from their news feed, the more traditional media feels the pinch. So all of the media went after the social networking giant, scrambling to uplift the complaint class to pundit-level authority. WHDH Channel 7 claimed Facebook “could go the way of MySpace” and quoted someone named Arielle saying “it’s not as, like, streamlined as it used to be.”
WBZ went with the story “Facebook Fury” while quoting users saying it was “lame,” “total garbage,” and “a huge step backward.”
“I haven’t logged on yet, have you?” lied WCVB’s Heather Unruh before going on: “Popular Facebook status updates today include ‘ugh,’ ‘hate!’ and ‘this is the dumbest Facebook layout ever!!!’” [Should that be “evar”?—Ed]
Facebook argues it is now, “more interesting,” “more immediate,” and more like your “own personal newspaper.”
Such claims are rebuffed by the esteemed panel at WBGH’s Beat the Press. Dan Kennedy said he might go onto Google +. “I’m not a frequent Facebook user which is an understatement,” said Emily Rooney. “I’m not going to get my news from there.” “If you’re really going to get your news from Facebook,” said a visibly shaken Margery Eagen, “that’s very scary.”
Yet more and more, that is precisely what people seem to be doing.
Our friend at the Boston Herald, Makena “daughter of Tim” Cahill “like”s it! In a half-page rambling on page three (!!!) of the tabloid, she praises what she sees as the new ability to customize your news feed:
In life, we’re able to choose what we want to read, who we want to talk to and how we interact with brands we like, but in virtual life, we lost the ability to filter out the things we’re not interested in.
Nevermind that Facebook has always made the filtering of your news feed free and easy. Or that there’s a theory, made famous in the book The Filter Bubble, that the internet does the filtering for you.
Facebook is a behemoth of the internet. Social media in general is a type of thought revolution whose effects have yet to be measured. Traditional media, though, can be measured quite easily, right?
“ACCORDING TO A SURVEY from the Pew Research Center, most people say they wouldn’t miss local news if their newspaper no longer existed.” This was the lead on an Associated Press article about a survey which, depending on what media you are in, was revelatory as a Boston fog.
“Pew Study: Local News Still Deeply Important To Communities,” said Huffington Post, undoubtedly under pressure to point out that Patch.com is still relevant. They continued:
However, the study also revealed that, even though people relied on their local news, most said that if their local paper folded, it would not have a major impact on their ability to get news and information about their community. This is somewhat contrary to the data, which demonstrates that local newspapers are first or tie for first for where participants turn in 11 of the 16 different local topics.
All local papers can fold, duh. The website of said papers? Not so much.
The Atlantic had this to say:
Hyperlocal sites such as AOL’s Patch.com don’t seem to be the answer. Their writers tend to be bloggers rather than seasoned journalists, and their articles rarely match the quality and authority of newspaper reports.
Do we need quality and authority on the local t-ball championship?
MSNBC interpreted the data “Internet a top source of local info,” while the Washington Post blogged about “why word of mouth is a top news source.” CBS News went with “Newspapers still #1 source for news.”
In the Pew study, there should have been a separate category. “TV,” “Radio,” “Newspapers” are all fine and good, but where was “Facebook?”
IN COMPLETELY UNRELATED news S&P revised its outlook on newspaper giant Gannett, downgrading it from “positive” to “stable.”
“This move by younger users to rely on the Internet for local information puts considerable pressure on traditional news organizations,” the report said.
To us, it’s easy to see the writing on the wall.