Social media and Journalism: Strange bedfellows or made for each other?

Credits: awesocial.com

Along with the arrival of digital era and the popularization of social media, journalism has shifted its course and is experiencing a huge transformation.

But the question is: Are social media and journalism even made for each other?

Credits: davidhallsocialmedia.com

As mentioned by Joyceline and her group mates in the previous seminar presentation, social media refers to the “new media technology that enables and extends our ability to communicate… It allows users to share brief blasts of information to friends and followers from various sources” (Hermida, 2010).

The more popular examples of social media websites that are used to disseminate information are mainly through Twitter, Facebook and microblogs. Hence, through Hermida’s definition, one can see that social media is in fact able to aid journalism in terms of even faster distribution of news. For example, the London RIots:

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Credits: http://www.slideshare.net/UCFadvertising/social-media-and-journalism-10970001

The people made use of the social media – Twitter to disseminate the information to their followers and hence, in a short period of time, information were circulated worldwide. Twitter also has a #hashtags function to allow users to only view tweets regarding a particular tag and in that case, those who search for #londonriots would be able to view tweets and information on the particular issue.

Social media outlets thus allow users to document the news in real-time and reach a massive number of people. Furthermore, people reading the news posts of others will be able to participate in the interaction with the original poster by offering their views on the issue while at the same time, sharing it with others (DeMers, 2013).

Jess Hill, a journalist in The Walkley Magazine discussed about how her usage of social media was able to help her keep track of the happenings in the Middle East uprisings. During one of the confrontations, she actually managed to get her information from one of the activists who was at the scene taking photographs.

“Social media, used systematically, is one of the best verification tools journalists have ever had.” She said (“Go forth and verify it”, p. 13). Therefore, journalists are in fact able to double-check their information that they have gotten from the official sources with the help of thousand other users who post videos and photographs on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Last but not least, another example of how social media aided journalism was during the Iran election protests in June 2009. Mobile phones and other digital technologies were the tools used to capture the street protests against election results and dramatic footage worldwide was uploaded to social media websites as well as mainstream media organization such as CNN and BBC (Newman, 2009).

Through the activities of receiving information from those people onsite of the protest, these mainstream media organizations saw benefits of technologies during the Iran crisis:

1. Extended newsgathering possibilities mainly pictures, but also including leads on stories, usually through live blog reporters engaging directly with networks.

2. A single copy-tasting function for social web activity, saving time elsewhere in the organization and reduced scope for mistakes.

3. An accumulation of credit within communities like Twitter, including a significant number of links back to their websites or broadcasts (Newman, 2009, p.30)

That is not to say social media is perfect, mistakes are still common, especially when journalists do not verify the information or sources that they receive. However, verification is in fact the very first thing that any journalists should do, said Jess Hill (“Go forth and verify it”).

Therefore to conclude this post, it is not to say social media and journalism are made for each other; instead, social media and journalism complement one another and this is how the future of journalism will be.

Word Count: 612

References:

DeMers, J. (2013, May 8). How Social Media Is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism. Huffington Post. Retrieved June 2, 2013,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/how-social-media-is-suppo_b_3239076.html

Hermida, A. (2010). Twittering the News. Journalism Practice , 4 (3), 297-308.

Hill, J. (n.d.). Go forth and verify. The Walkley Magazine, p.13.

Newman, N. (2009) The rise of social media and its impact on mainstream journalism: A study of how newspapers and broadcasters in the UK and US are responding to a wave of participatory social media, and a historic shift in control towards individual consumers. Reuters of Institute for the Study of Journalism, p.1-55. Retrieved May 30, 2013, from, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/Publications/The_rise_of_social_media_and_its_impact_on_mainstream_journalism.pdf

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