Friday, April 13, 2007

Richard Edelman, in the flesh

Earlier this week Richard Edelman spoke to the PRSA Georgia chapter about the new media consumer and the ever-changing world of mediated content.

If you are reading this post then you are among the growing segment of people who tune into the Web 2.0 movement. As mentioned by Edelman, more and more people are leaving the traditional channels – print and network news – and finding their information online. What’s more, the ease of information access allows them to check many more sources each day. Add to that the numerous RSS feeds and you have some well-informed constituents.

Changes like these have far too many repercussions to public relations (and life in general) to discuss in this post. But media ownership, the shrinking news hole, the 24-hour news cycle, journalists’ ability to fact-check and the watering down of what is considered news are only the beginning.

What was most troubling to me from Edelman’s speech is that some people are consuming no mediated information at all. No, Grey’s Anatomy and the latest, hot video game (which my young cousin’s tell me is Guitar Hero) do not count. This is extremely troubling for the youth movement.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect those in middle school or younger to truly get what’s going on in the world (I consider myself informed and I don’t get it all). Perhaps we should give high school kids a break too, many of them have enough going on with the hormone party that is adolescence. But once kids hit college age (whether in school or not) I would hope they are reading, watching or listening to some form of news. I hop they are at least thumbing through their school paper. Yes, even though my school papers weren’t truly hard-hitting – my apologies to the Daily Illini and The Alligator – they at least kept me abreast of the world’s major events.

My thanks to Richard Edelman for speaking to the PRSAGA chapter and reminding us of one way our profession is evolving and that we as practitioners need to adapt to remain relevant. If you get a chance, take a look at Richard’s blog, 6 AM. He’s been dedicated to posting on it since 2004, when most had never heard of a blog.

Random thought for this Friday: If traditional print newspapers were to fade away would we begin to see reforestation??? Can someone get Al Gore’s people on the phone for me?

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