Information Hunter-Gatherers

Patrick Ruffini is a pretty bright guy, but his latest column is particularly smart. In the column, Patrick notes something I was told by a smart blogger several years ago. It is not necessarily the overall numbers that matter most, but how many people of influence you are reaching. That is especially true when it comes to conveying political information. Patrick makes that point and many others in his latest column about the media and news consumers.

Blogs and personal media outlets from YouTube to MySpace are breaking from under the yoke of mass media. And the new medium is versatile enough that old media isn’t always the loser — more often than not, it’s mainstream news clips us political junkies like to pass around. The difference is that MSM content is being passed around in 2-minute increments, not tidily packaged 42-minute programming blocs. And there’s just as much “juice” in that audience of 10,000 that watches the clip on YouTube as there is in the 300,000 who watched in on TV. Why? Because those 10,000 are invested enough to seek out the clip and make sure it’s remembered; for most of the 300,000, it’s just background noise.

In the new media world, you don’t need big numbers so much as you need to generate passion and interest with the right audience. An old adage seems adept: “Sure, I have just one reader, but he’s the President of the United States.”
When you think about how political blogs exert influence, it is not always because so many people read an idea at a particular blog, but often because an idea or a piece of information found there is seen by someone who has the ability to either spread it to the masses or because it is picked up by someone in a position, either legislatively or otherwise, to put it into action. Patrick goes on to talk about how the old media is reacting to the new media. It is definitely a whole new world today. Just ask Katie Couric.

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