News content ain’t what it used to be.

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As the proliferation of digital media as a source of information has swelled in the last couple of years, more and more people are turning away from traditional news media and powering up their computers to get the latest scoop. A recent poll conducted by Sacred Heart University suggests that average Americans don’t care much for newspapers and traditional news outlets to get their unbiased fix of reporting.

Newspapers and traditional news organizations have done a poor job protecting their reputations by creating an environment where profits override content. But hey, everybody needs to make a living, right? News agencies are giving their audience what they want by delivering info-tainment, rather than what they need; unbiased reporting of events that effect us all.

Over the years, traditional news has become more of a business and less of a public service which has lead to a proliferation of news outlets that cater to sensational headlines and buzz, which in turn is good for the bottom line. Greed may be good for business, but it is not necessarily good for news. So what to do?

Recently, Senator Ben Cardin suggested a bill that would give newspapers non-profit status so they can deliver news without the worry of raking in a profit. But does changing into a non-profit going to encourage readers? Will that change the quality of the content? Believe it or not, quality content can be had on the internet by individuals who are doing the reporting more for the love of the craft than the need to profit. And readers are taking notice. As audiences flock to these writers, they will become more attractive destinations for news. In a recent interview of Tom Fenton, former senior correspondent for CBS news and author of “Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, the Business of News, and the Danger To Us All” believes that the answer to low-quality news content will depend on whether or not there is public outcry for better news. But I think it will be less of an outcry from the public, and more a slow turning away to better alternatives. For more on Tom Fenton’s take on the state of traditional news, click on the video below.

Regular Joes and Janes are changing the way we advertise.

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It’s late Sunday night at the time of this writing and I just came across a press release announcing The Future of Influence Summit by futurist and entrepreneur Ross Dawson.  If I set my alarm clock for sunrise, I can probably get to the airport in time to grab a flight up to San Francisco for the event, which sounds like an interesting one. According to the press release a new trend of “influencers” comprised of self-made influentials like bloggers, social media gurus and individuals are taking the power away from more traditional influencers like advertising agencies, newspapers and corporations. The shift away from “group influencers” to “individual influencers” is really giving advertising and marketing agencies heartburn as they scramble to figure out how to understand this new trend. In the pre-Internets era, people got their information about brands from traditional advertising like print, outdoor billboards and television commercials. The more a television commercial or print ad ran in the days of old, the more likely a person was to buy the product or service from that brand. Fast-forward to the Internets of the present. The media landscape has been fragmented into a million digital outlets, which is causing traditional advertising to lose its heavy-weight status. Media planners at advertising agencies now have to look at social media, PPC, banner, online video, rich media, email marketing, viral marketing, SEO, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and on and on and on. Couple that with the fact that now anyone with an authentic voice can build up a community of “fans” and influence if you buy a product or service and you’ve got some huge learnins to do if you’re a media planner in a traditional ad agency. Many times these “influencers” get huge audiences  because they carry with them the reputation of being an authentic, reliable voice. Take a recent blog entry where I wrote about Dave Carrol an irate United Airlines passenger who allegedly had his precious guitar broken by the airline. Instead of relying on customer service or filing a complaint with United,  Mr. Carrol took matters into his own hands by expressing himself in his own way; he wrote a song about the experience and released it on YouTube. The result was over 5 million viewers of his music video. Advertising agencies are still salivating trying to dissect and replicate the success. The point is that one individual can have a huge impact on a brand if the voice is deemed authentic. Long gone are the days that we take a corporations word for it when they tell us how great their products or services are. The individual is now the centerpiece of the show and advertisers better take notice. For more information on the program for Monday, check out The Future of Influence Summit Agenda