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Americans increasingly getting news socially : Opportunity awaits lawyers

social media source newsCamelot for the media, as we’ve known it, has been the day of the major newspaper and the major news network on television. Having a monopoly on the production and distribution of news and information ain’t all bad if you’re in the business.

That’s all changing with Americans today increasingly getting their news and information socially from people and sources they trust. I’ve seen figures ranging from 30% to almost 50% of Americans getting their news from social media.

If digital as the source of news is not enough, 27% of Americans get their news from mobile sources — smart phones and tablets.

We already have Zite, Flipboard and various other apps, such as Mr Reader to curate our own news, whether directly from the sources (blogs, newspapers, etc) or by monitoring subjects via Google alerts. These apps provide a clean and compelling way to get your news — as well as the means to quickly share what you’re reading socially via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook et al.

Then this morning Carl Franzen (@carlfranzen) of Talking Points Memo writes about more mobile social media news apps which vie for our attention.

With newspaper circulation falling across the United States over the past decade, tech entrepreneurs are betting on a new delivery method: The mobile application.

Sure, smartphone news apps from major institutions like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are nothing new, and mobile aggregator apps like Flipboard, Zite and Pulse have been around for a while, but now a new crop of aggregator apps — that is, apps that cull content from multiple news sources — is seeking to improve upon their predecessors.

Three new apps in particular are pursuing this approach: News.me, a New York City-based iPhone-specific project that includes New York Times alumni among its small team; Scoople, an iPhone app by a San-Francisco based startup founded by a Swiss entrepreneur, and Taptu, a company founded in the United Kingdom that on Thursday just released a new app designed for desktop computers and any type of mobile device. All three are available in the United States for free right now.

What a wonderful opportunity for the American lawyer. Never in our lifetime have we had the combination of one, a ready publishing and distribution platform – a blog, two, a target audience getting news and information, not from traditional legal publishers (West, LexisNexis, Wolters-Kluwer) and mainstream news sources (newspapers and television), but from blogs and other trusted social news sources, and three, consumption tools and apps sitting virtually in the palm of every American.

What was impossible only 5 or 10 years ago is now as close as our finger tips. What used to cost tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in PR and communication initiatives can be accomplished by becoming a trusted and reliable source on niche subjects in the law and business.

Critical for lawyers is to start not only producing news and information that can be shared by those who others trust, but to start consuming your news and information the way a growing percentage of Americans are. Socially and by mobile apps.

Just because you are a lawyer does not give you a pass on the way the world is going. You cannot cling to what is soon to be the past by arguing that you only rely on what you describe as trusted sources – traditional legal publishers and mainstream media.

Nothing inherently wrong with those sources of news and information, but the monopoly is over. Arguably better, more trusted, and more timely news and information awaits you elsewhere.

Opportunity awaits those lawyers joining in the social news movement.