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Brian Stelter has a great piece in the New York Times that I urge anyone interested in the media business to go and read right now — I’ll wait — and that includes reporters, editors and (most of all) managers, and probably IT departments and designers as well. The context of the piece is political reporting and political news, but I think the points Brian is making are relevant to the entire industry as a whole.

It’s not that there is anything earth-shatteringly new in the piece, mind you. But I think it does a great job of describing how digital “word of mouth” — in other words, social networking of all kinds including Twitter, IM, Facebook and so on — has become a dominant means of news delivery for young people in a way that I’m not sure old geezers like myself quite grasp, no matter how often people describe it (and Stelter knows whereof he speaks, since he was still in university when the NYT hired him away from TV Newser). As Brian describes it in the story:

In essence, they are replacing the professional filter — reading The Washington Post, clicking on CNN.com — with a social one.

And then Stelter mentions Jane Buckingham of the Intelligence Group, a market research company, and says that during a focus group, one of the subjects — a college student — said to her:

“If the news is that important, it will find me.”

Think about that for a second — or longer, if necessary. I think that sums up, in ten simple words, what has happened to the way that many people (and not just young people, but those who use RSS readers and blogs and social networks as well) consume the news (Mark Cuban seems to think so too). Not only is there just so much of it out there that it’s virtually impossible to consume it all, but the very fact that someone you know — or trust — has passed on or blogged or Twittered or posted a link makes it more likely that you will read it.

Are most websites designed with this kind of principle in mind? Not really. Most of them are still designed as though people read the news the same way they do in the paper — starting at the front and moving page by page towards the back (of course, many people don’t read the newspaper this way either, but that’s another story). In reality, people come from every conceivable angle, dropping into stories and then disappearing, finding them through links and posts and Digg and elsewhere.

If the news is that important, it will find me.

About the author

Mathew 2429 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

148 Responses to ““If the news is important, it will find me””
  1. […] line meant many things to many people. BuzzMachine blogger Jeff Jarvis and the Globe and Mail’s Mathew Ingram, a colleague here at Nieman, both wrote about it at the […]

  2. […] line meant many things to many people. BuzzMachine blogger Jeff Jarvis and the Globe and Mail’s Mathew Ingram, a colleague here at Nieman, both wrote about it at the […]

  3. Yeah this post doesnt make entire sense but I really like it

  4. […] line meant many things to many people. BuzzMachine blogger Jeff Jarvis and the Globe and Mail’s Mathew Ingram, a colleague here at Nieman, both wrote about it at the […]

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  7. This statement sums it up: “If news is important, it will find me” http://bit.ly/39G0QO mathewingram.com

  8. […] die Botschaft den Nutzer künftig vor allem findet – durch die Vernetzung mit ähnlich Gesinnten: „If the news is that important, it will find me.”) und erklärt das Prinzip hinter Googles geplanter sozialer Suche (mit Google-CEO Eric Schmidt im […]

  9. […] Botschaft den Nutzer künftig vor allem findet – durch die Vernetzung mit ähnlich Gesinnten“. „If the news is that important, it will find me.” Die Ökonomie der Aufmerksamkeit bekommt eine neue Logik, die von Jeff Jarvis als Echo-System […]

  10. […] So I was excited when I signed on to Twitter this morning and saw someone not associated with the site sharing the news that the Nah Right Lite RSS is working again after being broken for a ridiculous amount of time. The very discovery of that news I’d been waiting for is a perfect example of why I don’t use any big hip-hop news site. As the NY Times interview subject famously said, “If the news is important, it will find me.” […]

  11. Twitter Comment


    “If the news is important, it will find me” [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  12. Twitter Comment


    “If the news is important, it will find me,” says @mathewi ([link to post]). Proof: many ppl sent me this today: http://bit.ly/83zz6h

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  13. What is happening is that it’s occurring a lot more, and a lot faster.

  14. […] is to rely on our social connections to deliver interesting, relevant information to us. As was famously said by a college student in 2008: If the news is important, it will find […]

  15. […] is to rely on our social connections to deliver interesting, relevant information to us. As was famously said by a college student in 2008: If the news is important, it will find […]

  16. Think about that for a second — or longer, if necessary. I think that sums up, in ten simple words, what has happened to the way that many people (and not just young people, but those who use RSS readers and blogs and social networks as well) consume the news (Mark Cuban seems to think so too). Not only is there just so much of it out there that it’s virtually impossible to consume it all, but the very fact that someone you know — or trust — has passed on or blogged or Twittered or posted a link makes it more likely that you will read it.

  17. . I think that sums up, in ten simple words, what has happened to the way that many people

  18. actually these homes wont find they people

  19. Sorry, I am not from the USA, perhaps it means I don't have the background to understand completely, but from what you say I understand that creating a network of relationships spares you the pain of seeking your own sources of information (news or knowledge, i think the distinction is irrelevant). This tends to promote a passive way of getting informed, and is therefore very dangerous : what I get from my network is not necessarily traceable, nor true (factually… as far as this word as any meaning). In that way of behaving towards information, I delegate the checking for relevance to others, who delegate it to others, who… This means I am even more vulnerable to gossips, hoaxes, or simply mistakes or misunderstood pieces of information. It is the dream of advertisers and public relation people.

    Saying if info is important it'll find me is just like saying when i'm really hungry somebody will appear and give me a sandwich. It can be true if you have some good friends “watching your back” prostitutka, but if it does not happen in time it is deadly, and it is not reliable.

    I take it just as a mistake in the sense of the implication. Passing to your network information that you think is important does not mean that you will receive the important information when you need it (the importance being relative to each node of the network). Believing so is just letting your network decide on what sould be important to you. This makes you vulnerable to manipulation.

  20. […] The Huffington Post’s Josh Young, web entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Canadian journalist Mathew Ingram and the aforementioned Jarvis on this […]

  21. […] I would read it on Romenesko as well as pieces that never make Romenesko. You remember that famous nameless college student who told the New York Times the important news would find her? Twitter is how the important […]

  22. […] it will find me.” Wenn die Nachricht so wichtig ist, wird sie mich schon finden – ohne, so der Hintergedanke, dass ich Zeitungen, Zeitschriften, Websites oder was auch immer danach durchsuchen […]

  23. @jameshutson Start here – http://tinyurl.com/ynsep4 – this is two years ago, so it’s somewhat old news… ;-)

  24. […] zwar nicht verschwinden, ihre Relevanz jedoch deutlich abnehmen – die Plattformen sterben (“If the news is important, it will find me”). Hyperdistribution ist ein doofes Schlagwort, aber es trifft den Kern der Sache.  Dazu gehört […]

  25. […] be more real-time — and built for consuming news in a way that relies on the principle that “if the news is important, it will find me” — there’s still a place for moving outside of Twitter to look for alternative sources. […]

  26. […] digital content, it’s not at all necessary to get it in real-time.  In fact, as Mathew Ingram noted 2 years ago:  if the news is important, it will find me.  Matthew realizes that real-time […]

  27. […] Another factor is that if a really long article is really that important, it will be referenced, shared, and discussed in your own personalized online world sufficiently enough that you will have ample opportunities to read it later. As Mathew Ingram put it in 2008, “if the news is important, it will find me”. […]

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