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Social Media's Impact on Journalism
How Journalism has morphed into a new type of journalism with the use of social media.
The year is 1605, a new form of literature has just been released which will revolutionize the spread of information forever. This work was titled “Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien” and is widely regarded as the first world’s newspaper. The urge to spread information amongst one another has been a facet of human nature since the beginning; however, the ways humans spread information has changed drastically. Originally information was spread verbally, as humans were still very primitive, but as technology advanced the means of information sharing advanced as well. What was once a verbal exchange of thoughts eventually transformed into a billion dollar industry, called journalism.
Many of these advances had a major impact on the world. For example the printing press allowed writers to produce their literature in mass quantities in a short amount of time, as apposed to writing each document by hand. The most recent advancement being the introduction of internet, and even more recent the creation of social media. Much like the printing press, internet and social media have changed the face of journalism forever. Past forms of information sharing had always had some amount of delay between the time an event happened and the time the information was presented to the consumer. For instance, before televisions were popular, most Americans received their news through the newspaper. This form of journalism caused an approximate 24 hour delay, as it required someone to write the article, the factory had to print the newspaper, and then eventually be delivered to the consumer the next day. With the introduction of social media, consumers can receive news articles on their smartphones about as fast as the author can write it. The use of smartphones and social media has ushered in a new era of journalism as citizens play a bigger role in the process of news making. With the help of platforms like Twitter and Youtube, citizens can produce and circulate their own news stories which can often be picked up by traditional news sources like CNN. Large news corporations, especially American, used to have immense power over citizens as they controlled the spread of information which they could use to influence the population. But, with the introduction of internet and social media, citizens can share information amongst themselves more easily which has led to a decline in consumption of traditional news media. Social media has given power back to the people.
Social Media Requires Journalists to Get in Touch with The Audience
Michael Skoler, a journalist and author, wrote in the fall 2009 Nieman Reports* concerning the path and direction of journalism today. Skoler stated that journalists are assumed to be the tellers of truth however in reality Skoler believes that journalists are lying to themselves. Skoler points to the Web as the source for this deception by stating, “Our profession is crumbling and we blame the Web for killing our business model” (Skoler). Yet, Skoler feels the journalist’s business model has not changed; it’s culture that has changed the journalists (Skoler).
Skoler points to the traditional 20th century reporting style where mainstream media journalists were doing a good job of finding the news information that was hard to find and harder to distribute. The expectations for the journalists were to report the important stories and deliver it to the public through newspapers, radio and TV. The public trusted journalists and journalists reported pertinent information of the day (Skoler).
Over the past 25 years, however, the public’s trust in journalism declined as the Internet gained popularity. People now have choices in receiving the news and more importantly they are no longer passive in acquiring the information that is of interest to them (Skoler). By journalists just reporting information is not satisfying to the audience. Today, the audience expects to have a choice in what information they choose to read and most believe they should have an active role in contributing to the content and voicing their opinions (Harper). Gone is the past concept of “media professional” that determines what the audience’s needs are in readership (Zelizer). Skoler states that journalists are “out of touch” and journalists need to establish a “partnership” with the audience rather than “preaching” (Skoler). The concept of “social journalism” is what the audience is offering as a benefit to journalism, which involves “listening to those who have something to say”, according to Pamela J. Podger’s article in American Journalism Review (Harper). It is a change from the one-way communication to a community of communication that will assist the journalist, states blogger, Vadim Lavrusik (Harper). Shared communication is evident from the 2013 Pew Research Center that found 72% of adults received most of their news from family and friends including 15% from via social media, while 25% of 18 to 35 year olds also receive their news in this way (Cision). From this report it shows that a large majority of people choose to seek out and discuss news stories.
According to Skoler mainstream media is using social media as a tool to market and distribute their information with a rush to gain followers on their Facebook and Twitter (Skoler) in an effort to gain readership missing the point of this platform. The culture of today is about listening and responding. Therefore the “savviest” journalists Skoler states are those using social media to create relationships and to listen to others. Skoler suggests that the new style of journalism is a journalism of “partnership” with an audience who feels they can add content and opinion to the news and issues. Through social media journalist will find their way back to connect with the audience and journalism will become again a trusted partnership between the journalist and the audience (Skoler).
*Nieman Reports were founded in 1947. Today it is a website and quarterly publication for writer to contribute articles concerning “thought leadership in journalism” (Nieman Reports).
Social Media Today
Today, journalism and morphed and formed into a type of writing that anyway can create. The simplest forms of it, for example twitters, can be sent out in less than a second and only include 140 characters. Journalism has moved from it’s organized and old format of newspaper to a new format that anyone can easily create.
The way we use social media and journalism today impacts what people read and how they read or listen to news. Consider politics. Political parties and candidates bank on news tv stations, such as CNN or FOX to get their updates on how the election is going. Unbeknownst to many, both of these news platforms are on opposite sides of the political parties. If you tune into CNN, you will get a completely different view of a republican candidate than you would on FOX, and vise-versa. They are also impacting what the reader sees. This type of controlling what people read and hear has caused a lot of mis representation and information that has been broadcasted through journalism. People take that information and think that is the truth, because that is the only thing they actually see or hear about. This does, on the other hand, appeal to the people that are actually interested in the same things as the platforms show, making people more willing to go back to their platforms.
Journalism has moved from it generic form or journal articles and newspapers to things more closely connected to social media. Journalism has been around for a long time, but today they are getting more involved with platforms such as twitter, snapchat, and Facebook, all forms of social media. The impact of the use of social media with broadcast journalism, specifically, is the connection that the journalists are having with their readers. They are getting the readers involved to express their opinions, making it more engaging for the reader. This is especially prevalent with news media’s use of Facebook and Twitter. Less people are actually watching the broadcast journalism first hand, instead they are hearing about it through social media. In the article "Twitter for Journalists", written by Scot Hacker and Aswhin Seshagiri, explains that “Twitter has emerged as a powerful news tool, alerting the world about natural disasters, hostage standoffs and even revolutionary uprisings”. Snapchat this year has included a news type section to watch via snapchat, getting the users more involved and informed about things happening around the world.
Careers in journalism can vary. Each degree includes some type of communication, if that is writing, vocal, or imagery. All the intention of a journalist is to inform the readers on important topics. They are the voice that represents what is going on around the world in the news, sports, social media, fashion, etc.
A few types include:
• Broadcast Journalism
• News reporting
• Fashion Journalism
• Foreign Correspondant
• Freelance Writing
• Investigative Journalism
• Social Media
• Sport Journalism
This, and more information can be found at journalismdegree.com for the different types of careers in journalism.
Many people agree that technology advances at an exponential rate. Journalism technology and information sharing are no exception to this trend. Each new development in the world of journalism seems to change the way the consumers receive their information. For example after the invention of the television, news corporations began broadcasting news stories through personal TVs which led to a decline in newspaper readership. Now with the invention of social media, news corporations have begun broadcasting their articles through internet based platforms which has led to a decline in television news viewership. Each new advancement in journalism has led to a decline in one form of media consumption and a spike in consumption of another form. The big question now is, what will the next big advancement in journalism be: which form of media will drop in popularity, and which type of media will increase?