social media

Social Media – A new age of Journalism?

Written by sianabigail

Thanks to the development of technology, any information we need is only ever a few clicks away. News is available on demand in a way it never had been before and more and more stories are starting to break on Social Media. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook have changed how we read our news and our attitudes towards it. They create seemingly endless sources of news and make it more accessible for the general public.

Many of us visit social media several times a day. It is a platform we are familiar with so if we can find news on there, reading it can coincide with our everyday lives. A quick check of twitter will update us with current happenings and people who aren’t particularly interested in the news can still be involved with and exposed to it if they are active users of social media. Even chat apps are becoming places to distribute news. Whatsapp is now a place to distribute and find news through communicating with others, and this is something forefront in media organisations minds.

Fast-Paced News Has Increased Our Appetite

Also, the fast pace of technology means that our appetite for news has grown. We consume news faster than we used to- a quick read of a tweet or a brief look at a link and we are satisfied. A web summit conference in Dublin last week mentioned how news will now break on social media. Media organsitsations have to deal with this, as it is possible we have already heard a piece of news before they publish it.

Campaigns, such as #WeAreN or #FreeAJStaff are spread by social media as hundreds of users become involved. By being involved with such campaigns by retweeting or posting related content, people are becoming part of the news; instead of getting spoon-fed the facts. Also, things like this are often covered by news organisations themselves, meaning that the line between consumption and distribution of news become blurred.

The Reader – The Gatewatcher

Social media provides the public with several insights into a single story. We are exposed to several posts on the same subject which means that we have to filter through information. Journalists still hold the role of gatekeepers, i.e. they decide what is important for the public to know, but we act as gate watchers- we sift through all the information online to decide what we want to read, to listen to.

A Web Summit conference in Dublin last week stated that: ‘Authenticity has replaced authority.’ In other words, the public care less about where their news comes from and more about whether it is true.

Trust Issues

The public tend not to believe everything they read online. We are likely to come across a story social media but turn to traditional news organisations such as the Guardian, for confirmation that this is true. This may happen because we are aware that thousands upon thousands of hoaxes have been promoted online, such as fake deaths or fake news entirely.

Anne-Marie Tomchak, presenter and producer at BBC Trending said that not only journalists ask the questions anymore, “Social media users have become really discerning about what they’re seeing.”

Social media has refined the notion of “citizen journalism”: people everywhere can witness an event and post the images to Twitter. Technically, social media provides everyone with the ability to act out a journalistic role, and this is why Matt McAllester, editor for Time, sees Twitter as their competition. Witnesses are much more likely to post on social media than to track down and share their information with a journalist. Everybody is able to create content, to share it with others or to post their own opinions on original breaking news.

Are People Becoming Less Interested in News?

People may connect more with news on social media, especially young people. A claim was made recently, that young people were not interested in news. This isn’t the case: interest in growing and its growing rapidly. I think this is partly due to the changing way we consume news. Young people connect with social media and so I believe this leads to a better connection with news. News doesn’t have to be boring anymore, nor do we have to settle with reading mainstream news, with so many alternative sites available.

Anne-Marie Tomchak claimed that “Social media is a place for political, cultural and social change… and it is also one of the newest weapons in war,”

Social media sparks change, and that is precisely what is happening. This digital age is shaping the new journalism, and it is one in which news is published and spread in a whole new range of ways and places.