It wasn't all that long ago that broadcast network news informed the nation and big city papers set the news agenda. They were the gatekeepers, determining what was news, and how that news was presented to the public. Then came cable networks, the internet, digital cameras, video-sharing, and social media - all of which chipped away at the role of gatekeepers and the traditional production process of journalism. Brennan suggests that the New York Times still serves as a primary gatekeeper, determining and driving much of the news cycle - at least among the legacy media and for political coverage.
Brennan argues that as broadcast journalism came to dominate as a source for news, and news organizations faced expanded competition from newer news delivery systems, having good video became a priority.
"Instead of clipping an article out of The New York Times or sending around a link to the big story, executive producers and assignment editors can now click on a video and say, “Here, go do that.”"Since reporters and cameramen can't be everywhere, and digital video camera quality improved, often that source of video came from "amateurs." But perhaps the biggest problem for traditional media was that they didn't control that channel; once posted on video-sharing, social media, or micro-blogging sites, everyone had access - in ways that bypassed the traditional gatekeepers. Access to, and use of, those services have become more ubiquitous than traditional media. Research suggests 180 million people in the U.S. watch online videos regularly (more than 85% of total U.S. audience) while the top cable news programs rarely draw more than 3.5 million viewers. Online video has arrived, and media are struggling to decide how to use it.
The influence of online video, Brennan suggests, goes beyond traditional journalism. In the last few years, amateur video distributed online has created problems for many politicians and candidates. Online video has been accepted as a mainstream source for news and information.
So, the question for 2012 is, “Will the organizations, activists and candidates who want to defeat Obama be able to harness the power of online video to drive the news cycle and shape the debate?” (In 2008) YouTube was only a couple of years old during that election cycle, (yet) “Obama stole the show” with online video.Brennan concludes that
Online video will be driving the news cycle in the run up to the November 2012.. . . (M)ainstream media will broadcast the best videos being produced about the battle on the campaign trail.The videos may be new, but for candidates and politicians, the most problematic are likely to be the use of older videos to remind voters of what candidates actually said, rather than the revisionist histories presented by campaigns (and often, traditional news outlets).
Source: The Beast That Ate the News Cycle, The Weekly Standard