Digital transformation creates power shifts between the fourth and third estates. The first wave of disruption empowered citizen journalism. The second, current wave of disruption is creating real-time journalism. This is due to the rise of mobile, social and video.
Let’s look back at the last six months to understand the landscape today.
Research by The Reuters Institute shows significant growth for smartphones. Globally, 25 per cent of over-35s use it as their main device for news consumption. That number jumps to 41 per cent for under-35s. Add tablets and the number of people using two or more devices in the UK moves to 44 per cent across ages. Mobile devices give readers the opportunity to dive in to the news when they want. Typically that means morning, lunch, and night.
For publishers that raises an editorial question. Do you chase the 24/7 breaking news cycle? Or do you take a classic edition approach?
Facebook and Twitter dominate in different ways as news destinations. People incidentally encounter the news on Facebook. They actively seek it out on Twitter. That's led both companies to provide solutions to news corporations.
Facebook's Instant Articles provides lightning-fast access to stories without leaving Facebook. Poynter says that the New York Times and NBC plan to publish 30 articles a day moving forward. Publishers are all in because their own experiences often suffer terrible load times.
Twitter is using profiles to push app installs for news organisations. That helps cut through app discovery problems on various app stores. It creates another opportunity to get engaged new readers onto the publishers’ own apps. Twitter is also creating an editorialised real-time newsfeed which could drive further traffic.
Snapchat Discover is a new editorial-driven offering derived from a daily edition model. As with other communications on the platform it is ephemeral. 24 hours and then it's gone forever. The Daily Mail, Vice and CNN were all early adopters of the feature. The allure of the young audience Snapchat has built is obvious.
Live streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat have applications for journalists and citizens alike. CNN's Max Foster covered the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge via Periscope. Dan Rather expects Meerkat to break stories during the 2016 US Presidential election. Coverage of the East Village fire from eyewitnesses shows potential for breaking news.
Given our increased ability to bear witness, verification becomes important. YouTube Newswire will work with editors and journalists to identify hoaxes.
Apple News, Google and BuzzFeed will be ones to watch in the back half of 2015. Early reactions to terms and conditions leaks about Apple News suggest hesitancy. Breaking news notifications are a no-brainer for the Watch. Google Trends seeks to provide real-time data tools to journalists. BuzzFeed just released its own serious news app.
Behind all this is a question. Is there such as thing as 'news' in an always on world? Or it it just a continual flow of information and opinion? Successful platforms will encourage audience participation regardless of the answer.
Daniel Harvey is experience design director at SapientNitro. He tweets @dancharvey