I was extremely excited to arrive at Monday's lecture and find that Trina McLellan from Reporting4Work would be talking to us about the changing ways that audiences are accessing news in the digital age. We're all aware that the internet has had a big impact on the news industry, but it's quite staggering to take a step back and have a look at the figures surrounding Australia's internet usage. According to the Nielsen Online Ratings for January 2012, we have the fifth highest level of internet penetration in the world, and The Australian Online Consumer Landscape found that by 2012 internet capable smartphone ownership was up to 64%.
It sometimes seems as though I can't go any time at all without being, in some way, directly connected to social media. Whether it's having Facebook open in another tab while studying, checking Instagram on my phone or the routine morning scroll through my Twitter feed, social media has become a thoroughly ingrained part of my life, and, judging by my various newsfeeds, everyone else's.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining at all. I love social media. Not just because I enjoy its capabilities - though that's surely how my interest was sparked - but because I find the role that these intricate networks play in our life absolutely fascinating. I first heard about Osama Bin Laden's death via a friend's Facebook status, and a 'Pray for Boston' Instagram post was the first I heard of the marathon bombings. I'll willingly admit that opinions of those in my Twitter and Facebook feeds have made me reconsider my position on political and social issues by considering them from different perspectives. Talking to friends and family, I know that many of them have had this experience as well, evidence of the importance of social media as a platform for sharing news and connecting with audiences.
Trina's lecture affirmed this, putting some solid figures on social media use. ACMA found in 2011 that 25% of 30-44 year olds had accessed news through a social media website, and the figure was 36% for 18-29 year olds. I wouldn't be surprised if these numbers have risen significantly since then as social media continues to play a bigger and bigger role in our lives. OFCOM also found that other news media channels are used less since social media's advent. Australian news watching on TV dropped 13%, and reading a national printed paper dropped 21%.
'Social media manager' jobs seem to have started cropping up over the past few years, and I honestly believe that by the time I graduate, 'social media', as a whole, is going to be an incredibly important platform for the news industry. As someone who loves using and analysing social media, this is a pretty exciting thought.