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Sharing, not consuming, news

The New York Times yesterday had a great article about modern news consumption:

According to interviews and recent surveys, younger voters tend to be not just consumers of news and current events but conduits as well — sending out e-mailed links and videos to friends and their social networks. And in turn, they rely on friends and online connections for news to come to them. In essence, they are replacing the professional filter — reading The Washington Post, clicking on — with a social one.

“There are lots of times where I’ll read an interesting story online and send the URL to 10 friends,” said Lauren Wolfe, 25, the president of College Democrats of America. “I’d rather read an e-mail from a friend with an attached story than search through a newspaper to find the story.”

[Jane Buckingham, the founder of the Intelligence Group, a market research company] recalled conducting a focus group where one of her subjects, a college student, said, “If the news is that important, it will find me.”

In other words, as Techdirt put it, this generation of news readers now focuses on sharing the news, rather than just consuming it — and if you want to share a news story, there’s no point passing on a subscription-only URL that your friends and contacts cannot read.

What newspapers need to do to remain relevant for this generation of news consumers is not to hide their content behind paywalls and registration-required screens. The Guardian got their heads around this a few years back, and have come along in leaps and bounds since then. I wonder if the Irish Times is listening?