So have you jumped on the Twitter or blogging bandwagon yet? Are you an early adopter of new technology or “a laggard?” A slacker as I like to call them. There’s a theory that helps to explain how new innovations are adopted. I know, you’re probably thinking: “Theory? Boring!”

But, hear me out on this.

Diffusion of innovations, established by Everett Rogers, defines “diffusion” as “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.” An innovation is defined as “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption.

The diffusion of innovations theory provides a useful framework to investigate television stations, and, more importantly, reporters’ adoption and use of new media (innovation). Since the process of implementing new media is currently spreading rapidly in newsrooms across the country, this is an ideal time to employ Rogers’ theory.

Rogers utilizes an S-shaped (sigmoid) curve to describe the cumulative process of adopting a new innovation; as the rate of awareness of an innovation increases among people, peer pressure sets in, which leads to an increased rate of adoption. In other words, according to diffusion of innovations, there will be “early adopters” or “leaders” of new technology and those who take on the innovations based on the experience and opinions of those “leaders.” Such a notion may help to explain where local television reporters fit along the continuum in relation to other adopters and who influences them in their integration of new media.

Does the “peer pressure” of newsroom colleagues who are experimenting with social media such as Twitter, for example, persuade them? Or perhaps they are tempted to jump on “the bandwagon” because national media outlets have done so.

Competitive pressures can also fuel the adoption of an innovation (new media).
For example, an innovation may be diffused through a newsroom’s culture as a mandate by management, who themselves may be following the lead of other companies that have adopted new media.

From an audience perspective, television stations must meet the needs — follow the demands — of viewers who are turning to new media for news now more than ever before. Therefore, the public’s rapid adoption of an innovation (new media) plays a significant role in television stations’ and, subsequently, journalists’ adoption.

Theory behind jumping on the new media “bandwagon”
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