I’m reading Bleak Expectations

What is going on with the news?  Royal soldier kills enemy soldier shock!  Phone manufacturer’s performance slightly below inflated industry expectation shock!  Ball boy wastes time in football match shock! Snow in January shock!  Jock loses sock shock!  OK, I made that last one up.  Anyway, a social media frenzy, a news channel press review, a front page headline and then, just like a mayfly, the story is dead within 24 hours.

We want instant news, instant answers and instant gratification.  Indeed FMCG should now stand for fast moving consumer gratification.  The smartphone has a lot to answer for here.  As it surpasses 50% adult ownership, it is changing human behaviour and expectations.  We live our lives through these devices and because we can read, watch, buy, upload and locate things quickly, we expect everything in our lives to be quick.  We want to drive our cars above the speed limit.  We hate queueing.  We want to force open the Tube train doors because the 2-minute wait until the next one is a soul-destroying lifetime away.

So is the news agenda being driven by consumer demand for short, sensational frippery?  One newspaper recently had on its front page a headline referencing a c-list singer ‘tweeting a prayer for the kicked ballboy’.  I’ll let you decide.  What I can say is that national print daily newspapers have recorded a year-on-year (gross) decline in readership of 5%.  News is now being consumed more online and more on mobile and it certainly is a tonic for publishers for now with Newsbrands reaching 70% of all adults each week.  Content is being reshaped to be easily accessed and quickly digested to satisfy our snacking culture.  Indeed, apps are being designed all the time to meet this demand (eg Summly).  The future is mobile shock!

John Carroll is Senior Director in Ipsos MediaCT and Chairman of the Media Research Group (follow John on Twitter @MediaCarroll)