Welcome To The Sixty Second News Cycle – Death To The 24 Hour News Cycle

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The news cycle has changed so much in the past five years. This has had a direct effect on Marketing and Advertising. It’s about to change again and – as usual – Marketers are not prepared. And, from the looks of it, the general mass population might not be ready either.

There’s that old saying that you have to know where you have been to know where you are going. The news used to be controlled by the major news outlets. Companies would launch their press releases in the morning on any given weekday (preferably Monday to Thursday) in hopes that it would be picked up by the television stations for the six o’clock news and then it would hit the newspapers the following morning. A good piece of news had legs and could linger for two – three days (if it was able to make it to the magazines, you would be looking at weeks and months). Then, TV stations like CNN launched and the mass public’s appetite for news was turned on its head. We suddenly ushered in the era of the twenty-four hour news cycle. News was available at any given moment, and in an effort to fill that air time, news makers had to up their game to ensure that they were the ones breaking exclusive stories and having the scoops.

The Internet changed everything.

As more and more people got interested in the Internet it also became a secondary channel for these news companies to get the word out. Very few of these companies saw the potential threat that it would become to their empires, but as the speed of communications shifted again, many individuals began using the Web to broadcast their own news, as it happened. There were even moments where traditional news companies were breaking the news on their websites first in order to not get scooped by he competition. From there, Blogging platforms took hold and now we have micro-blogging spaces (like Twitter and FriendFeed) and the ability to comment and create content from our mobile devices.

Die! 24 Hour News Cycle! Die! Die!

On May 23rd, 2007, there was this Blog post, TNN – Twitter News Network Or How I Found Out About The Google – Feedburner Acquisition, from Six Pixels of Separation:

"Traditional media outlets would spend huge budgets to have correspondents placed in different parts of the world to file stories and get ‘on the ground’ insights that the average individual would never have access to. Now, at any given time, my fairly small friends list (it’s fewer than one hundred and fifty) spans the globe and constantly feeds personal, local, national and global insights at a non-stop pace… In a world where we trust what our peers say at a much higher multiple than anything pumped out by the media, Twitter is perhaps beginning to demonstrate her true power."

Fast forward to now and Twitter has matured. It’s not uncommon to not only learn about late breaking news way before the major news outlets get the chance to update their websites from places like Twitter, but more and more of these major news outlets are now trolling Twitter and FriendFeed for information, perspective and insight.

What does this all mean?

We no longer have a twenty-four news cycle. Something happens in the world (Mumbai, Gaza, or that someone was involved in a plane crash) and somebody, somewhere is informing the world through text, images, audio and even video within sixty seconds. What does the news and media industry look like now? Media empires are going to look very different in the coming months and years as we quickly shift into this Sixty Second News Cycle. It’s no longer about which outlet breaks the new or how fast, it’s going to be about how well they can report on something that everybody has already seen. By the time it takes a news outlet to produce a TV news segment, record some audio for radio or draft up a newspaper article, that news item has not only moved on, but it has already been replaced – countless times – by more and more news. Publishing online is fast and free.

We are inches away from the real-time news cycle.

The flow of the news is only increasing. It is hyper-local and global at the same time. News from your backyard is at your fingertips at the exact same speed as news from across the globe. How advertising is bought, sold and displayed is going to have to adjust. The longer, more thought-out and verified stories are going to have to mingle with the 140 character blasts. It’s not going to stop. It’s only going to increase.

How ready are we – really – for the Sixty Second News Cycle?


  1. Smaller, or newer news, outlets have a better idea of where “news” is headed.
    OF the major networks, the CBC has the strongest grasp of online news. But my favoutrite, and probably a sign of where news reporting is headed, was Current TV’s hack the debate; integrating Twitter into the live feed of the US presidential debate.

  2. or is online just the new Reuters? These are interesting thoughts, but completely ignores the segment that will never access news online. How do we change the landscape and speed with which news passes from source to audience and not kill the existing media that serves the many and not the savvy few.

  3. Mitch, are you under the impression that no one would have heard about Mumbai except for Twitter?
    Twitter was the first place l learned more than 200 people were dead in Mumbai. That was wrong.
    Yes, news has sped up (and I think you’re significantly underestimating how fast the MSM reacts to breaking news). Yes, you can be your own Reuters.
    But if no one follows your Twitter feed, of what value is your news?
    I’m on Twitter and I like Twitter, but I also see significant weaknesses with it as a tool for public discourse.
    And if we took the traditional media right out of the equation, how well informed would the public be by the social media system?
    My guess? Not very well.

  4. Heather, there were many people for many years who never had TV, radio, etc… If we’re talking about the developed world (because gettting information and technology to the developing world is a whole other major social issue), then I think we all have to appreciate that it is only a matter of time. Internet adoption is pretty widespread and extended across all age brackets. I also think that we’re going to see much more Internet-ready appliances that will be feeding this information through.
    Bill, I never said that no one would have heard about Mumbai if it wasn’t for Twitter. I am saying that Twitter is faster to report becuase the people in the middle of a situation are posting the information almost immediately after it happens. Much faster than it takes to disperse a news crew and create a report.
    It’s not about how many followers one has either. There’s a network effect at play. Something of value gets re-tweeted (like news/emergencies) and it spreads through the network – which also includes major news outlets.
    I also agree with you about how well informed the public will be. As you’ll note above, I said that these tweets are going to have to mingle with solid journalism and reporting for best balance.

  5. Mitch, thanks for taking the time to respond.
    You’re right to highlight the parts of your post that I overlooked in my first comment.
    I would concede your point about the network effect, but I think you underestimate the echo chamber effect and how even reasonable dissenting voices can get squeezed out and ignored.
    I’m still learning about Twitter, but it would seem to me there’s something of a Twitterocracy that’s quite anti-social in nature.
    That being said, if anyone reading my wants to follow my tweets, I’m at @billdinTO.
    Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

  6. I see where you’re coming from Bill. I always believed that the Web is the great equalizer – a place where all diverse voices can be heard and turned into a community. My hopes are that as the mass media starts following these channels, they’ll also explore the varied diversity I see, feel and thrive for.

  7. Mitch, a bit off-topic but one of your comments made me think about this. Do you think the developing world would use Twitter in 2009?
    I’m in South Africa and it’s mostly just the tiny Social Media crowd who uses it.
    I don’t agree that the internet is the great equalizer. It’s only an equalizer if everyone has the same type of access to it. Not everyone has access to decent speeds and laptops.
    Most people in South Africa still use WAP sites. Those sites are mostly awful (except facebook et al) and makes it nearly impossible to create content. This means that those people are left out of social media and can’t even comment on this blog.

  8. Like I said, the developing world is a whole other complex conversation. One thing I really saw in action at the TED Conference was just how powerful mobile and SMS is to those regions.
    And you are 100% right, the Web is only a great equalizer for the people who have access.

  9. It’s definitely true that the news cycle has shortened, and the way you put it is very much on point. It would be interesting though, to see *which* stories and memes do better in the 60 second news cycle world. It certainly seems like the world is more sensationalist and more fearful based on the speed with which news travels, and the fact that sensational, fear-oriented news seems to travel faster.
    That being said, that’s just an intuitive sense, but it would make an interesting analysis.
    Thanks for putting together your post Mitch, much enjoyed as always.

  10. question: Why is it so important to you that you know within 60 seconds that 200 people died in MUMBAI? Would it not be more self-gratiating to spend 60 minutes studying WHY they died?

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