Filtered News

So yesterday, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, had a baby. In case you didn’t notice. The Royal Baby, it was called by the Twitterati. And I’m not a fan. Royal baby, you hold no sway over me. But I can’t get away from him.

But I have solutions. I don’t really follow pop-culture following folks (death, disease and disaster all the time, baby!), I skip over news stories about the newborn babe, my RSS feed is delightfully tech-heavy. But he still mocks me, and lots of other people who couldn’t care less.

In fact, the Guardian even created this handy little tool to wipe the royal family and all of their baby-having ways off of the paper:

[A] small toggle near the top of the page that allows readers to switch between “Royalist” and “Republican” modes, the latter of which removes all reference to English royalty and their familial expansion.

My reason for bringing this up is it demonstrates what the future of news delivery and consumption looks like. Ten years ago the future king would’ve taken the front page of every major American and British newspaper and been the lead on every major newscast. You couldn’t have escaped it. But not today. Today there are people who are in touch and follow news who have no idea this is happening. They’ve successfully filtered their news to only be about those things that are most important to them, and nothing else.

This has huge ramifications for us in emergency communications. “Just put it on the news,” may not be the solution anymore. Not everyone looks at your news, not everyone follows your news. They follow the news that is important to them, and we’ve got to figure out how to access those networks.

The second point this raises is that we’ve been given a great opportunity. Most government communicators have a pipeline, wherein things get approved and shipped out into the world. One method of distribution. Everything in the same packaging. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Technology has advanced in such a way that we can divide, repackage, slice up and otherwise make available in dozens of formats all of our information. Dynamic tagging, specialized social media accounts, website target audiences, path mapping, the list goes on and on. But how many of us actually use these tools? How many of us allow our publics to choose which of our information they feel is important? Or do we force them to sit through everything?