We continue our look at the last decade in the story of Richland County media. The first post in this series can be found here.
Before we pick up where we left off, let’s spend a few moments looking at the national trends to which we referred and, in particular, one trend that provided a serious blow to newspapers and traditional news media.
Just as sites began to appear which eroded traditional revenue generators for print — such as craigslist, which helped to dry up income from classified ads — a brand-new challenge arose: the rise of social media.
Social media dealt more than one body blow. For starters, potential customers for news no longer needed a newspaper to get information to make decisions ranging from what to buy to where to vacation; they could now easily obtain that and more from friends and family, as well as from groups of like-minded individuals. Much has been written about how this has contributed to our current polarized political world.
For another, the largest social media companies, Facebook and Google, began to require payment to have posts appear regularly in news feeds and search results. In the last two or three years, these changes have picked up pace and have resulted in dramatically decreased reach for posted news stories. Facebook and others also created advertising opportunities for businesses that allow for targeted and substantial audience reach, further eating into the ability for news operations to generate advertising revenue.
As it is often said, numbers tell the story. Consider the following statistics:
Today, social media platforms are used by one in three people worldwide, including 90.4% of Millennials. In 2010, the four leading platforms had the following number of members:
Facebook — 517 million
YouTube — 480 million
MySpace — 70 million
Reddit — 3.89 million
By 2018, MySpace was gone; Facebook had 2.26 billion members; YouTube 1.90 billion; and Reddit 355 million. Of course, several new platforms with membership now in the hundreds of millions had joined the mix, including Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, Pinterest, and others.
In 2018, when Ohio had a population of 11,694,664, some 8,949,773 were users of the internet, and some 5,702,760 Ohioans (48.9%) were signed up on Facebook. Using that same percentage, 59,217 Richland Countians would have been members at that point. Current estimates say that 68% of Americans say that they are Facebook users.
Richland County continues its affinity for all things Facebook, by the way. One clear discovery from our operating sites based in Richland and Delaware Counties is that those in the former have a strong Facebook dependence, while those in the latter actually prefer Twitter. An informal review we have conducted actually shows that a given Delaware County school district, for instance, is up to ten times more active on Twitter than a given Richland County district.
In our next installment, we will look at how traditional media companies have fared in the last decade. We will then move to the role of independent, online-only news operations.
Sources: Wikipedia, oberlo.com, internetworldstats.com/