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Joshua Benton
In March 2008, wrote a story for about how young people were getting news online. It's a pretty straightforward story — but there's one quote in it that still has an impact on debates about digital journalism today. 1/x
Younger voters tend to be not just consumers of news but conduits as well, sending out links and videos to friends.
The New York Times The New York Times @nytimes
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Brian quotes a woman who had done a focus group with college students recently about their news habits, and the response one of them gave stood out: "If the news is that important, it will find me."
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Maybe you've heard that quote in the years since — it nicely sums up a really critical change in how we get our news. When we got our news via TV and newspaper, news consumption was habit-driven. You'd read the same paper every morning or watch the same newscast every night.
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
So whatever its merits, you were getting an edited product pushed out to you on a regular basis. In digital, though, our news consumption is less habit-driven — news sneaks into various moments of the day. And it reaches you as an individual story, not an edited package.
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
And though 2008 was pretty early in Facebook and Twitter's heyday, as social media rose, you became increasingly dependent on other people's sharing behavior for news to reach you. "If the news is that important, it will find me." It's a brilliant sentence, actually!
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @NiemanLab @_HGZ_
That phrasing even got adopted into the academic literature as the "news-finds-me perception" (shoutout to old pal ), and a nice little literature has grown up around it.
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @brianstelter
So why am I telling you all this? The woman who conducted that focus group, the one she told about 11 years ago, was named Jane Buckingham. And she got indicted this morning in the big college admissions scandal.
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Buckingham is charged with paying $50,000 to have someone pretend to be her son and take the ACT for him. And the feds have tapes.
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Buckingham says on the tapes that her son needs to get a 34 on the ACT (out of 36). The surrogate tester did even better and got a 35.
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Buckingham joked that, once the scammer gets her son his fake ACT score, "I need you to get him into USC, and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East...You know, Harvard, the rest of it. I have faith in you."
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Once her son's score came in, Buckingham said she would "probably like to do the same thing with [my daughter] with her ACTs" because she is "not a great test taker." But she wouldn't need a 35 — "if she got a 32 or 33, I'm assuming that would make her pretty competitive."
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
I won't mention her kids' names here, but they're known people in that weird world of teen ~influencers~. The daughter has 1.4 million followers on Instagram. (Importantly, none of the kids have been charged in any of these cases — just parents, coaches, and the scammers.)
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
And it's clear from the indictment that Buckingham didn't want her son to know this fraud was going on — she went so far as to arrange for him to take a fake ACT test so he'd think the score was real.
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @brianstelter
I don't really have a grand concluding point? But I figured I might be the only human alive who saw the connection from that 2008 article to today's biggest story, so I thought I'd mention it for the record. /end
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Addendum: I thought about ending this thread with either: "The news found her." OR "If the ACT score is that important, it'll find my son." How should I have ended it?
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Also, if you need a gift, you might want to consider one of Jane Buckingham's books, including "The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood" and, um, "The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations" ("a helpful handbook for surviving headaches, pickles, jams, and everyday emergencies")
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
Holy frickin' moly
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @GMA
Also, for the curious, here's Buckingham on in January, previewing the "top trends for 2019" (Marigold is THE color of the year)
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @jbenton
(also big in 2019: PUTTING CHEESE IN YOUR COFFEE)
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Joshua Benton Mar 12
Replying to @dallasnews @DanLGolden
Related: I wrote an angry column about this phenomenon for way back in 2006, hooked to 's then-new (and still very good) book The Price of Admission. In it, he lays out how Jared Kushner snuck into Harvard with dad's money
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Julie Scelfo Mar 13
travels so quickly, that 99% the info we need in due time. I learned this also while on maternity leave 13 yrs ago: after a lifetime of keeping up w the news religiously, I kept the TV off and allowed my papers and mags to stack up for the first time in my life. What did I learn?
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Julie Scelfo Mar 13
Correx: now, information travels so quickly that nearly all the information that we NEED, we end up getting in due time. The rest of it is inessential.
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Joshua Benton Mar 13
This is something that's hard for news junkies like us to understand. We *enjoy* the news. Not everyone does!
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Julie Scelfo Mar 14
Actually, with all due respect, I don’t think it’s a question only of enjoyment, but of recognizing/differentiating btwn different types of info. We journos are prob unique in wanting max info on max subjects, all the time; most people probably do not, which is understandable.
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Joshua Benton Mar 14
No respect due! :) I think you're right that lots of people aren't good at telling the difference between, say, NYT and Breitbart and a random blog and a fake news site. But I think we journalists also tend to overestimate how much of what we produce is "essential" to all readers
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Joshua Benton Mar 14
And that has led, I think, to not enough experiments with providing a different kind of news product, one that doesn't have be governed by carried-over habits from print or broadcast.
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Julie Scelfo Mar 14
And...shame on the for allowing it. They worry more about the public seeing a nipple than ensuring that mass communication isn’t co-opted by commercial forces. The airwaves are a public good and should be regulated in a way that serves the public.
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Joshua Benton Mar 14
I'll have a piece on a related topic out soon...
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