What effect has social media had on news and journalism?

3 Aug 2023 Keanu Harrington 0 Comments

The Inception of Social Media and Its Intersection with the News Industry

Alright folks, we're going on a little trip down memory lane. You remember those times when we'd have to wait for the evening news to get a fix on what's happening in the world, right? Me too. Allow me to take you back to the era of dial-up and the newsboy hollering at the corner. The sheer suspense of waiting for that newspaper to drop on your doorstep, teasing you with glimpses of the outside world. Then came a technological breakthrough that changed everything. That's right, I'm referring to the digital revolution and the inception of social media platforms.

It all started innocently enough with platforms like Bulletin Board System (which predates even me, if you can believe it) and then moved on to AOL, Friendster, and well, you know the story. As these platforms evolved, so did their influence on various facets of our lives. One of those influences? Our interaction with news and journalism. The avalanche of information we once relied on the evening news for started pouring in via our screens. A news event wasn't just restricted to your city or country anymore. It could be of global interest and importance, and boom! Instantly, you and I are a part of the discussion.

Creating a News Agenda: The role of Social Media

Let's play a quick game. How many times have you found yourself reading an article or watching a video clip on a social platform before bumping into it in the traditional media? If you've lost count, join the club. Today, social media isn't just relaying information; it's shaping the news agenda itself. And not just because I say so, but because studies back it up.

A study by Pew Research Center found that people are increasingly turning to social media for news. Now, that, of course, depends on the kind of news you're interested in. If you're a sucker for local news like me, you'd still rely on traditional news outlets. However, if a cat stuck on a tree halfway across the world is your groove, you'd probably hear it first on social media. Jokes aside, the definition of news is changing, and it's more inclusive and global than ever before.

News Journalism: The Democratization Process

We've all seen those feel-good stories about everyday heroes who saved the day, right? Well, the recognition of such unsung heroes wouldn't be possible without social media. That brings me to the fascinating aspect of how social media has democratized news journalism.

Traditional journalism was a one-way street with big media houses having the monopoly on the news. But social media has opened up a highway with multiple lanes. It's given ordinary people the power to participate in shaping the narrative. So, it's not just journalists working their sources and angles, but experts, eyewitnesses, and ordinary people sharing their stories. To quote Spiderman, "with great power comes great responsibility," right? We must remember that reliability and verification of these sources are integral to maintaining journalistic integrity.

How Social Media Has Changed News Consumption

This is a fun part. We're all guilty of this: checking our smartphones first thing in the morning. I mean, who wouldn't want to wake up to wholesome dog videos interspersed with breaking news? News consumption habits have changed drastically with the advent of social media.

News is now curated as per our interests, and it's available 24/7. There's also an interesting mix of hard news and soft news, so we're not just aware of the political scenario but also who did what in the latest reality TV show. However, it's essential to note that while the convenience is great, it also makes us susceptible to the echo chamber effect, reinforcing our existing beliefs without critical exposure to different viewpoints. I, as a humble blogger, would caution you to be aware of that and encourage diversity in your news diet.

The Rise of Citizen Journalism and Its Implications

Ever found yourself caught in a protest or a natural disaster and live tweeting the whole thing? Congratulations, you're a citizen journalist. But remember, it's not all hunky dory, and it's essential to understand its implications.

Social media has given birth to citizen journalism, encouraging every social media user to share newsworthy events. This kind of on-the-spot reporting during major events offers nuanced perspectives often missed by traditional media. However, it has raised significant concerns about the quality and reliability of content. Moreover, the safety of these citizen journalists is also a critical issue given that they often lack the protections offered to professional journalists. So, aspiring citizen journalists out there, tread with caution.

How Social Media Affects News Reporting: The Good, The Bad, and The Fake

It's really no secret, social media has significantly affected news reporting. For one, it has allowed for faster dissemination of news. I mean, sometimes I get my news before my morning coffee, and that's saying something. But with the good comes the bad, and the downright ugly.

The speed of social media can be a boon, and a bane. It's fantastic when information gets around quickly, but it's quite the nightmare when fake news does the rounds. Misinformation and disinformation can run rampant on social media as facts are sometimes checked after the tale is told. This trend introduces the phenomenon of 'post-truth,' where emotional appeals override facts in influencing public opinion. Believe me when I say, it's just as ominous as it sounds.

So as we keep scrolling and swiping our way through news and information, let's remember to take everything with a pinch of salt. Let's all be reasonable and discerning consumers of news in this era of social media and journalism.