How many ‘Likes’ does your share price have?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The recent rise and growth of social media has almost certainly created change in the way business news is produced and consumed. However, due to the relatively niche market of this type of news (as compared to politics or celebrity news), the effects and influence may be less dramatic.

By Oliver Ellerton

The production and consumption of business news has undergone a similar transformation as other kinds of news – be it lifestyle, politics, crime or local. Since the introduction of the printing press and the evolution of mass produced news in the 19th and 20th centuries, information was disseminated to large numbers of people in a very short space of time by a select few. News, and in particular business news, was collected by specialists in their field and opinions largely written by ‘authorities’ on their subject. They could set the agenda and the talking points as outlets for news were fewer and they were trusted, either by association with their publication (such as the New York Times) or their own background as a journalist or business leader.

The dawn of the internet and development of social media – Twitter, Facebook, blogging – is ushering in a more personalised method of news dissemination. Rather than receive news from a hierarchical, vertically-distributed mass-market newspapers, consumers now get their news through the personal connections created by Facebook and Twitter, among others. The distribution of news has flattened out (The End of Mass Media, 2011).

I can write too you know…

The internet created a platform whereby anyone could write and disseminate their opinions about any given topic. The development of blogs created a space where ordinary citizens could voice their opinions, barriers to entry fell, news became more diverse. Arianna Huffington spied the potential riches in this new movement when she established Huffington Post, a news portal whose content was solely created by bloggers. Despite some high profile setbacks such as the closing of Business 2.0 by Time Inc in 2007 (more a reflection on the revenue issues the growth of the internet has created), blogging and bloggers have grown in profile and importance so-much-so that the line between blogging and journalism has begun to blur (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009).

This phenomenon started in the US but has quickly spread to Asia and through all sections of news. A quick online search of business blogs in Malaysia will reveal a host of ‘citizen journalists’ commenting on finance, economics, business and more. Furthermore, these ‘journalists’ vary from being the man in the street, to CEOs of major multinational companies to entrepreneurs. Not wishing to be left behind, the ‘traditional’ print media have embraced this form of publishing with many if not all business contributors of the Financial Times hosting their own blogs on the FT website for instance. The same is applicable to local Malaysian outlets. Additionally, the two-way dialogue of these blogs means that the reader is as much a journalist as the contributor. Lazy fact-checking is highlighted, errors corrected and opinions clarified in ways that were not possible when the daily business news was consumed from a newspaper while on the bus on the way to work.

My way or the (cyber) highway

In the political arena, social media has created a more diverse space, and a more partisan one. The incredible rise in the amount of information available has made news more polarised than ever before, with an area of cyberspace catering for pretty much every opinion and viewpoint out there. Additionally, the sheer volume of information has caused consumers to gravitate towards those outlets that cater to their tastes, and surround themselves with other similar minded consumers. The loudest voice generally attracts the largest followers, thus creating a noisy and chaotic news arena of video, newscasts, comments, images and blogs.

Additionally, the speed at which news is produced has increased exponentially. Traditionally, editors of newspapers would think only of the next deadline every 24 hours. Now bloggers and editors think in hours or even minutes. The credibility of many outlets depends on the speed at which they can get information to market, and many bloggers succeed or fail based on this.

Quality is King. Long live the King

Another side effect of this rapid increase and polarisation of news is that it also acts as a filter, whereby the less relevant news provider is quickly sidelined in favour of ones whose product is relevant and of value to the consumer. The recent demise of the traditional newspaper around the world, exacerbated by the global financial crisis and caused mainly by the rise in online and social media, can be contrasted by the few success stories of the industry. It is no secret that The Economist is one of the few newspapers to increase its subscription base annually by 15 per cent, the global view point and generally balanced articles cater to the global citizen of today who find the paper’s take on the world to be relevant and of value  (Micklethwait, 2007). This success has come despite the alternative sources of viewpoints and information available and demonstrated that quality does indeed triumph even for a traditional paper that has existed for a century or more. Contrast this to some local Malaysian ‘official media’, who claim to represent the views of their readers but are consistently undermined by alternative sources available through the internet – and are thus faced with ever decreasing readership numbers.

Pass me my slippers, and the Telegraph, please

But what does this mean specifically for business news? Has the rise of social media and the change that it brings affected the way news on the markets, investments and corporations is produced and consumed? TMZ is one of the most popular portals on earth and delights in exposing celebrities and revealing the latest break-up or make-up in the world of Hollywood. Its audience is just as eager to hoover-up this information by the millions, however, these are generally made up of 15-25 year old females, young, computer savvy and more used to talking gossip online than discussing macro-economics in the boardroom. The market for business news is different to TMZ, it is also different to politics and sports news. Those who require the latest update on a recent acquisition, or the story behind a significant public listing, have grown up in the era of mass-media, where their news came from a few, trusted sources be it the Daily Telegraph or Bloomberg. Those who currently consume this news may take a while to adjust to the new online and  social environment. It may take a generation for the online community of business, financial and economic bloggers and contributors to reach a level of recognition some of their peers have already achieved. More and more are consuming their news on mobile devices, but the provider of that medium more often than not will also print newspapers.

A new generation is growing up, surrounded by new digital tools and digital ways of doing things, and so it is entirely possible that when they come of age we will see a real diversification in the way business news is created and disseminated. This could come in the form of online forums specialising in everything from micro-finance to IPOs. We could see online start-ups challenging the dominance of entrenched players and perhaps even overtaking them as the go-to place for unique, accurate and relevant news. We may even see a sidelining of traditional business news outlets altogether, as corporations build their online and social media presence they may choose to simply disseminate their own news through these channels – everything from up to the minute stock prices to a new CEO hiring – rather than the traditional press release and headline. Additionally, there is scope for a rise in business-to-business social media – a kind of Facebook for corporations – where businesses publish key information (stock prices, revenue etc) and share updates, thus creating a place where investors can gather for real-time news and information.

The age of mass media has lasted 170 years and is arguably over. We are now in the early stages of the digital age which evolves and mutates at ever faster speeds. Those who currently specialise in the production of business news will have to adapt and change themselves, possibly out of all recognition to their current form, in order to survive – that much is certain. However, the timing of this is less so.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

The recent rise and growth of social media has almost certainly created change in the way business news is produced and consumed. However, due to the relatively niche market of this type of news (as compared to politics or celebrity news), the effects and influence may be less dramatic.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The recent rise and growth of social media has almost certainly created change in the way business news is produced and consumed. However, due to the relatively niche market of this type of news (as compared to politics or celebrity news), the effects and influence may be less dramatic.

By Oliver Ellerton

The production and consumption of business news has undergone a similar transformation as other kinds of news – be it lifestyle, politics, crime or local. Since the introduction of the printing press and the evolution of mass produced news in the 19th and 20th centuries, information was disseminated to large numbers of people in a very short space of time by a select few. News, and in particular business news, was collected by specialists in their field and opinions largely written by ‘authorities’ on their subject. They could set the agenda and the talking points as outlets for news were fewer and they were trusted, either by association with their publication (such as the New York Times) or their own background as a journalist or business leader.

The dawn of the internet and development of social media – Twitter, Facebook, blogging – is ushering in a more personalised method of news dissemination. Rather than receive news from a hierarchical, vertically-distributed mass-market newspapers, consumers now get their news through the personal connections created by Facebook and Twitter, among others. The distribution of news has flattened out (The End of Mass Media, 2011).

I can write too you know…

The internet created a platform whereby anyone could write and disseminate their opinions about any given topic. The development of blogs created a space where ordinary citizens could voice their opinions, barriers to entry fell, news became more diverse. Arianna Huffington spied the potential riches in this new movement when she established Huffington Post, a news portal whose content was solely created by bloggers. Despite some high profile setbacks such as the closing of Business 2.0 by Time Inc in 2007 (more a reflection on the revenue issues the growth of the internet has created), blogging and bloggers have grown in profile and importance so-much-so that the line between blogging and journalism has begun to blur (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009).

This phenomenon started in the US but has quickly spread to Asia and through all sections of news. A quick online search of business blogs in Malaysia will reveal a host of ‘citizen journalists’ commenting on finance, economics, business and more. Furthermore, these ‘journalists’ vary from being the man in the street, to CEOs of major multinational companies to entrepreneurs. Not wishing to be left behind, the ‘traditional’ print media have embraced this form of publishing with many if not all business contributors of the Financial Times hosting their own blogs on the FT website for instance. The same is applicable to local Malaysian outlets. Additionally, the two-way dialogue of these blogs means that the reader is as much a journalist as the contributor. Lazy fact-checking is highlighted, errors corrected and opinions clarified in ways that were not possible when the daily business news was consumed from a newspaper while on the bus on the way to work.

My way or the (cyber) highway

In the political arena, social media has created a more diverse space, and a more partisan one. The incredible rise in the amount of information available has made news more polarised than ever before, with an area of cyberspace catering for pretty much every opinion and viewpoint out there. Additionally, the sheer volume of information has caused consumers to gravitate towards those outlets that cater to their tastes, and surround themselves with other similar minded consumers. The loudest voice generally attracts the largest followers, thus creating a noisy and chaotic news arena of video, newscasts, comments, images and blogs.

Additionally, the speed at which news is produced has increased exponentially. Traditionally, editors of newspapers would think only of the next deadline every 24 hours. Now bloggers and editors think in hours or even minutes. The credibility of many outlets depends on the speed at which they can get information to market, and many bloggers succeed or fail based on this.

Quality is King. Long live the King

Another side effect of this rapid increase and polarisation of news is that it also acts as a filter, whereby the less relevant news provider is quickly sidelined in favour of ones whose product is relevant and of value to the consumer. The recent demise of the traditional newspaper around the world, exacerbated by the global financial crisis and caused mainly by the rise in online and social media, can be contrasted by the few success stories of the industry. It is no secret that The Economist is one of the few newspapers to increase its subscription base annually by 15 per cent, the global view point and generally balanced articles cater to the global citizen of today who find the paper’s take on the world to be relevant and of value  (Micklethwait, 2007). This success has come despite the alternative sources of viewpoints and information available and demonstrated that quality does indeed triumph even for a traditional paper that has existed for a century or more. Contrast this to some local Malaysian ‘official media’, who claim to represent the views of their readers but are consistently undermined by alternative sources available through the internet – and are thus faced with ever decreasing readership numbers.

Pass me my slippers, and the Telegraph, please

But what does this mean specifically for business news? Has the rise of social media and the change that it brings affected the way news on the markets, investments and corporations is produced and consumed? TMZ is one of the most popular portals on earth and delights in exposing celebrities and revealing the latest break-up or make-up in the world of Hollywood. Its audience is just as eager to hoover-up this information by the millions, however, these are generally made up of 15-25 year old females, young, computer savvy and more used to talking gossip online than discussing macro-economics in the boardroom. The market for business news is different to TMZ, it is also different to politics and sports news. Those who require the latest update on a recent acquisition, or the story behind a significant public listing, have grown up in the era of mass-media, where their news came from a few, trusted sources be it the Daily Telegraph or Bloomberg. Those who currently consume this news may take a while to adjust to the new online and  social environment. It may take a generation for the online community of business, financial and economic bloggers and contributors to reach a level of recognition some of their peers have already achieved. More and more are consuming their news on mobile devices, but the provider of that medium more often than not will also print newspapers.

A new generation is growing up, surrounded by new digital tools and digital ways of doing things, and so it is entirely possible that when they come of age we will see a real diversification in the way business news is created and disseminated. This could come in the form of online forums specialising in everything from micro-finance to IPOs. We could see online start-ups challenging the dominance of entrenched players and perhaps even overtaking them as the go-to place for unique, accurate and relevant news. We may even see a sidelining of traditional business news outlets altogether, as corporations build their online and social media presence they may choose to simply disseminate their own news through these channels – everything from up to the minute stock prices to a new CEO hiring – rather than the traditional press release and headline. Additionally, there is scope for a rise in business-to-business social media – a kind of Facebook for corporations – where businesses publish key information (stock prices, revenue etc) and share updates, thus creating a place where investors can gather for real-time news and information.

The age of mass media has lasted 170 years and is arguably over. We are now in the early stages of the digital age which evolves and mutates at ever faster speeds. Those who currently specialise in the production of business news will have to adapt and change themselves, possibly out of all recognition to their current form, in order to survive – that much is certain. However, the timing of this is less so.

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