For years I've been pushing the idea of participatory journalism. If you've been thinking this is just theory, some more data has emerged that ought to get your attention:
- "According to Web measurement firm Compete Inc., Facebook has passed search-engine giant Google to become the top source for traffic to major portals like Yahoo and MSN, and is among the leaders for other types of sites." (San Francisco Chronicle)
- "Facebook was the #4 source of visits to News and Media sites last week, after Google, Yahoo! and msn. ... Facebook could be a major disruptor to the News and Media category." (Hitwise analyst Heather Hopkins)
- "Of the 71% of the adult population who get news online, 75% of them say they get news forwarded to them through email or posts on social networking sites. ... In addition 23% of the social networking users who get news online say they specifically get news from news organizations and individual journalists they follow in the social networking space. " (Pew Internet & American Life Project report, "Understanding the Participatory News Consumer")
News is no longer just a report. It's a conversation, a broad process in which many people contribute to varying degrees.
This is not new, but rather a restoration of normalcy that was disrupted by Gutenberg and Marconi. We humans evolved in tribes, and we digest news and information by sharing it and talking about it with our friends and family. The one-way flow that is characteristic of print and electronic broadcasting is at odds with our nature. The Internet ends that directional tyranny.
But that's only part of the change. Social filtering and recommendation are the new editors and publishers. Years ago, I said that "gatekeeping" was dead and that we would need "guides" to show us the way through the chaos of the new marketplace. Our friends and followers are now taking a prominent place in that "guide" process, displacing the "editor" and the "newspaper" product.