One stat that caught my eye from Sky News’ Stand Up Be Counted poll was that eight out of 10 people don’t trust the media to reflect their concerns and needs.
Almost half (46%) thought social media more accurately represented them, compared to 18% for mainstream media.
That’s not really a surprise: we create the content for social media ourselves, so of course it reflects our own concerns and needs.
And although Sky News wants to appeal to as many people as possible, some topics are too niche.
Online, though, niches can become huge. 20,000 people might like XYZ in the UK but if 20,000 people like it every country around the world, that’s around 4 million people – a sizeable market for a focused news provider to hit.
It’s how eSports has gained 71 million viewers around the world, despite being ignored by mainstream media.
It’s not a coincidence that its biggest site, Twitch, is a deeply social platform – halfway between a media company and a social network.
So is this the end for traditional media? Are any of you interested? I’d argue not.
First, a lot of the links being shared around social media are to traditional newspapers and broadcasters. And it’s this combination that is powerful and very exciting.
But what social media does is add another layer of trust, beyond a news organisation’s reputation.
When a friend shares a link on WhatsAapp, they put (a small part of) their reputation on the line, effectively saying: “This is something I think worth sharing.”
If you trust that person, you’ll follow the link.
That also means the content is more likely to reflect your concerns.
The era of editors and executive producers alone determining the news agenda is over, which is a good thing.
But for social media users alone to determine the news agenda is also dangerous.
Online, we gravitate to people with the same opinion. If everyone does the same, we end up in a filter bubble, where we only see stories likely to appeal to us.
One of the great things about a newspaper, TV channel or magazine is surprise: coming across a story that grabs you, but isn’t one of your usual interests.
Now, we’re starting to get the best of both.
Editors and executive producers pay a huge amount of attention to social channels. They look to those platforms to shape their coverage, and a new platform like Stand Up Be Counted can improve that dialogue.
The more we talk, the more we trust.