Making Sense of the Media
7:58 am
Fri July 12, 2013

What Kind of Media Consumer Are You?

Credit Carolyn Kaster/AP

Are you a traditional consumer of media, a social consumer or a lurker? 

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense-Making Project" said that the recent glut of news from the Supreme Court,  the George Zimmerman trial and a filibuster in the Texas legislature revealed how many different kinds of news consumers there are in the digital age.

"This was the week I realized how dramatically everything has changed in the way we consume news," explained McBride. "And, at the same time,  how firmly some of our roots are still planted in the old platforms."

The filibuster in Texas, where Texas state senator Wendy Davis talked for nearly 11 hours to block a vote on a restrictive abortion law, showed how a story not being covered by traditional media can still become a national story -- on the internet.

"If you are a person who was glued to your computer because you were watching news of this filibuster, it's most likely that you are a social consumer of news," McBride said. "This was an event that was distributed, information-wise, almost completely on social media... it was all Twitter and Facebook. There were no national news organizations covering this as it happened."

The live coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial in Orlando is a different story.

On the internet and on TV stations and cable outlets, there has been continuous live coverage of the trial.

McBride said that people glued to the Zimmerman trial coverage are "continuous, traditional" news consumers.

"If you're watching it on your computer, though," explained McBride, "You are a traditional, digital consumer which is different from a traditional consumer because you can click start and stop when you want to pop in."

How about reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act?

Well, that's when social media consumers got into high gear.

"If you were one of those people who were posting or commenting on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr, then you are a participatory consumer," McBride said. " This means that you like being part of the conversation. If you are somebody who was watching all of that but not necessarily linking or commenting, then you are what I would call a lurker. And that's not as bad as it sounds. It was a great news story to watch unfold and just about everybody in this country has an opinion on gay marriage and if you wanted to you could jump in and be a part of the conversation, you could do that. But, if you didn't, if you just wanted to sit back and watch, you could do that as well."