The cycle of media attention (fans to feeders)


Most of the time, the work is only seen by fans. The new record, or the public hearing that's being held, or the presentation for the committee. It's going to reach people who already know what's in store.

But, in the connected media world, sometimes an idea starts to blow up. The views on the music video start to trend, the book starts to get talked about. Who notices? People who notice things that are trending. If you're in this group, you may have fooled yourself into thinking that everyone cares about what's trending, but in fact, not so many do.

The buzz hunters don't care so much about the content or the artist–they won't be back for the next piece from this person. What they care about, though, is the trend, the buzz and the heat.

When enough buzz hunters are buzzing, then the masses show up. They want something else, of course. They want what the masses are watching.

Finally, if someone has really screwed up, if there's a trial or a scandal or something catastrophic in politics, the creeps on cable will descend. They'll camp out, spin and look for sound bites. Every time they do, they turn the story into the very same story, they embrace the arc of tragedy, they look for two-dimensional and the black and white.

The audience for online gossip, cable sensationalism and the stuff at the newspaper checkout sees the same thing day after day. They have a very different view of the world because of the circle of media they've chosen to live in.

What's extraordinary about the media attention curve is that each group brings its own truth, its own lens to see what's going on. The fan sees the world one way, the buzz hunter very differently.

The actual work doesn't change so much as the way we talk about it.

You get two choices here: the first is to decide which circle you'll live in when you consume media. And the second is to decide which circle you'd like those that you seek to reach are living in.