Q: Is the Hillary Clinton email story the most important story in media right now? A: Only if you want it to be. To many, the developing story of Hillary Clinton’s email server, classified emails and the threat they represent to her potential presidential candidacy is a huge story.
But it is not to others.
Technology in 2015 has enabled viewers to get almost custom-made news. And it has enabled the media to evolve to be far more fickle than ever before.
At 12:00 noon CST, upon clicking onto the 5 largest news organizations’ sites, you would have seen the following (leading story/secondary story):
- CBS: Jared Fogle’s guilty plea/Hillary Clinton’s email scandal – how it’s affecting donations to her campaign
- NBC: Donald Trump’s birthright citizenship position/Jared Fogle’s guilty plea
- ABC: Jared Fogle’s guilty plea/One-year anniversary of James Foley’s death
- CNN: Jared Fogle’s guilty plea/Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine in a submarine
- Fox News: Jared Fogle’s guilty plea/Hillary Clinton’s email scandal update
The common thread: Jared Fogle. He is being accused of having sex with an under-aged female, and of possessing child pornography. He was due to enter a guilty plea in court literally within hours of the news site postings.
Is the Jared Fogle story “news”? Well, that depends on whether you think it is.
50 years ago, America generally had the luxury of others in the media deciding what was news. The so-called “Big 3” (CBS, ABC, NBC) would hold content board meetings daily, review potential stories, and decide what to air that night.
And we Americans simply accepted their judgment. Many today are fond of hearkening back with wistful, nostalgic thoughts of how much more objective journalists seem to be in 1965, vs. 2015. But were they objective in 1965?
In 2015, any media organization, in order to survive, must do three things:
- Carefully identify who watches or reads their content, and determine what they want to see or read
- Ensure that there are enough of those viewers to enable them to sell advertising for survival revenue
- Modify either content or delivery to make sure revenue is higher than expenses
The business of ensuring that a media outlet is profitable is not for the faint of heart in 2015. The differences you see between the now Big 5 news organizations reflects their effort to do these three things. Of the 5, Fox News has enjoyed the most incremental success in terms of net profit.
Today, you determine whether or not something is news, or even newsworthy. Whether or not what they run is truly news is irrelevant. What is relevant is that you think it is news, and that you prove it by staying on their site, and visiting their advertisers.