LexisNexis announced a new survey recently with the headline "LexisNexis Survey Shows Today's Consumers Trust Traditional Media Sources the Most." Whoa, that's a bold statement. Well, it doesn't take long to get into the press release to see the conditions under which people now trust mainstream media. If there were a major catastrophic event such as a hurricane or an attack of anthrax about half would tune in network television, slightly more than a third newspapers and a third cable news. Only six percent would tune in weblogs or other new online news sources. OK, I'll admit that I don't think that Robin Good would be the first guy I would turn to if a plane were dropping out of the sky on my house, but this is a pretty dismal showing for mainstream media. Under the most extreme circumstances not one media source is likely to be favored by any audience beyond a bare majority.
Our own research into business content use shows that day-to-day trust in mainstream media sources does remain fairly high among business information users but that online sources are becoming the "go-to" points for many news events quite rapidly. In my own gathering of news headlines I am amazed at how quickly weblogs and services that aggregate weblogs are becoming more effective news filters than traditional newspapers. Weblogs have the flexibility to be able to select editorial content from any source via links and to put it into perspective quickly and effectively - oftentimes with more authoritative insights to boot, since many weblog authors double as subject matter experts.
So kudos to LexisNexis for a study that will be recycled in presentations for months to come to bolster their argument for the value of subscription database services - but let's be honest about what really happens on a daily basis in today's content markets.