How can “traditional” journalism fail us? Most simply, old numbers do lie. When a journalist who is schooled only in the ways and means of presenting information via “old” media consumption statistics fails to comprehend and apply how “new” media is used to consume ALL media nowadays, they thus present erroneous information to their audience… certainly by misleading them.
Given the right set of circumstances, reporting that does not take into account how media is consumed now could even be dangerously misleading, no matter how experienced and skilled the journalist might be in their particular area of expertise. In the sciences, perhaps.
But let’s look at politics for right now. Take for example this statement about Obama’s March 18, 2008 speech by Gary Reese of Florida Insider:
Barack Obama’s speech about race on Tuesday impressed many who witnessed it or read it. But most of America did neither, and many of them — white and black — were less persuaded of the speech’s capacity to heal racial wounds, or to put the issue of race behind Obama as he continues his quest for the White House.
Now whether or not racial healing occurred or ever will, who’s to say? That’s one to keep the lipflappers on the airwaves for a while to come. But look at the second sentence… particularly where Reese says, “most of America did neither.” That’s where things go statistically awry.
Let’s now look at a paragraph from Eleanor Clift on how people “consumed” Obama’s speech. (Still are consuming it, for that matter.):
The cable commentators kept pounding away, but in another universe, the one inhabited by Obama’s base–the millennial generation–his Philadelphia speech became the most-viewed video on YouTube this week with almost 2.5 million hits so far. Maybe, just maybe, the cable critics and conservative pundits are talking to themselves.
And that’s just the visits to YouTube. Surely the March 18th Obama speech was a popular choice on other video sharing sites such as Yahoo! and AOL Video. Of course, 2.4 million hits could be coming from Botswana, but I doubt it. The point being… once all is said and done, “most” of America could very well end-up consuming the Obama speech in some media fashion or another.
Woe to the single planet dwellers who neglect to make contact with a parallel universe. At somepoint, a parallel trajectory could very well shift. And run “traditional” everything right off the road when it does.