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The Rise of Social Media and Online Journalism

1686 words (7 pages) Essay in Journalism

18/05/20 Journalism Reference this

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Abstract

 Social media is still in its infancy, and the world of online media is continually growing. Also, the world of how and when news in the media is being reported in also constantly changing. Each day, television stations, corporate news stations, newspaper outlets, and other sources of news are drifting into the world of online journalism and reporting news. “The ever-growing digital native news world now boasts about 5,000 digital news sector jobs, according to our recent calculations, 3,000 of which are at 30 big digital-only news outlets.”The demand for online journalism and online reporting is there, but a question still hovers over this new era of journalism; “can you actually trust social media news reporting?” Can people trust news that is being reported correctly on social media? How could social media possibly be used in news reporting? Is there an effective way of delivering the news online? There seems to be no clear answer to if social media can actually be considered a credible source for information. One may also begin to wonder if society’s idea of credibility has changed due to the evolution of communication. This study will cover what society desires in news reporting and online journalism, provide support to the recent idea that online journalism and online reporting is a good thing, and support the fact that social media reporting is becoming a newly accepted trait amongst this current generation.

Importance of Social Media and Journalistic News Reporting

 Social media, serves as an entertainment option for people of all ages. It allows people to stay in touch with their loved ones, while also providing fresh and entertaining content for its viewers. But over the past couple of years, the use of social media has gained a new function for news outlets around the world. For some people, this new phenomenon serves as their primary purpose of social media, while others just seem to keep up when in need of it. According to the Digital News Report 2015, “Almost two-thirds of all Facebook users in our sample (63%) use it in a given week for finding, reading, discussing, or sharing news, compared with 57% last year” [Study was conducted from 2014-2015] “Our unique data from 12 countries show that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Google+ are by far the most important networks for news in that order, but for younger users Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr also come into the picture.”This research backs up the idea that social media and online news reporting can be a good thing for journalists and people alike, but again, the idea of social media news reporting is debatable, and whether or not you can fully trust what is being reported is also a common concern.

Literature Overview (Supporting Arguments)

“For American adults under 30, social media has far surpassed newspapers and has equaled TV as a primary source of daily news, according to a new study of news consumption trends by the Pew Research Center for the People & The Press.”(10) “The study found 33 percent of these young adults got news from social networks the day before, while 34 percent watched TV news and just 13 percent read print or digital newspaper content.” This 2012 study from Poynter provides support to the idea that social media can be used for a different purpose, aside from entertainment content. According to the Pew Research Center in 2012, nearly every category of race, gender, and age has nearly doubled in percentage of finding news on social networking sites from 2010 to 2012. The most striking observation is that the people who use social media to find current news are between the ages of 18 and 39. The general public has over 30% usage of finding news on social media, whereas the social networking users obtain their news at over a 40% rate, 10% higher than the general population. This supports the idea that social media is evolving away from being an entertainment site first, but also becoming a reliable news source.

According to a Pew Research Study, “half of Facebook and Twitter users get news on those sites as do 62% of Reddit users.”(10) “Facebook reaches far more Americans than any other social media site – and therefore allows for the most in-depth study. Overall, three in ten adults get at least some news while on Facebook.” From a journalist’s perspective, social media news reporting serves an important use for them and their colleauges. “The most common use of social media by journalists was to check for breaking news — nearly 80 percent said they regularly use social networking sites to stay on top of recent developments. But a full 73.1 percent specifically cited using social media to check in on what the competition is reporting on, and many other uses like finding ideas for stories and staying in touch with audiences were also quite popular.”(10) Also, “over a third said they spend between 30 and 60 minutes each day on social networking sites,” according to Pew research study. Journalists use a majority of their activity on social media to find story ideas, find sources, and check for breaking news, which leads amongst journalist at 78.5%. Some believe that there could be a biased opinion among how social media news is reported, and whether or not you trust what is being posted on social media. People also use those articles that are published on social networking sites to their benefit, and share that news to their friends, family, or their followers.

The thought and use of online journalism is continually on the rise, and many believe that trend will continue. The first true newspaper was considered to be the London Gazette which was established in 1666. Throughout the years, one may notice a difference in not only how the newspapers cover certain topics, but how their numbers seem to have grown.  In 1850, there were a total of 2,526 newspapers in the United States, by 1880; the number had reached up to 11,314.

As the years pass by, we seem to see a decline in the presence of the physical form of the newspaper, but an increase in converting to the digital form. Currently there is both the decline of watching TV for news, reading through a newspaper for news, and listening to the news on the radio. As more people seem to receive their news online, news organizations face the dilemma to reallocate their resources to attract new and old viewers alike, while still trying to hold on to current audiences formed through print and broadcast media. In the same study, you can start to see the change in the ways that consumers get their news. How often do you see news outlets post stories, and end that story with a social media plug to check out more of the story, or leave some feedback for the reporter? That end of story plug is becoming more prominent as social media news reporting continues to develop and evolve each day.

Although the statistics seem to favor the internet more than the traditional forms of media, Advanced Media Institute at UC Berkeley doesn’t quite agree. They say, “while the trend toward online is clear, not everyone is embracing it… at the end of 2007, about 25 percent of people in the U.S. still said they hadn’t ever been online.”  Despite the 25 percent, it seems that several major journalists have also begun to make the switch to social media and online news reporting. In October of 2013, high profile New York Times columnist, David Pogue, switched jobs to Yahoo. Less than a month later, former Times assistant managing editor Jim Roberts, became chief content officer at Mashable’s growing news operation. It may seem that with the decrease in numbers in traditional media and the increase in digital journalism, that a larger percentage of people may be beginning to gather more of their news online and on social media sites, rather than the traditional form of obtaining news. 

Hypothesis/Conclusion

Five hypotheses were generated for this research. Those five hypotheses, along with supporting information, are as follows;

1)     When breaking news occurs, Twitter will serve as the number one source for people to obtain breaking news stories, more than Facebook and other social media outlets.

2)     People generally trust news that is reported on social media.

3)     Social media’s immediacy will be the reason people choose this medium, rather than waiting for their local news to report the same story.

4)     People will prefer social media news reporting, more than television news reporting.

5)     People who use social media more often for news obtaining, will feel more connected with society and with what is happening in the world.

References:

  • A Brief History of Newspapers. Retrieved from http://www.historicpages.com/nprhist.htm
  • Anderson, M., & Caumont, A. (2014, September 24). How social media is reshaping news. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/
  • Anderson, M., & Caumont, A. (2014, September 24). How social media is reshaping news. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/
  • Grabowicz, P. The Transition to Digital Journalism. Retrieved from https://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/digital-transform/
  • Jurkowitz, M. (2014, November 12). The Growth of Digital Reporting. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2014/03/26/the-growth-in-digital-reporting/
  • Mitchell, A., & Matsa, K. E. (2015, May 13). 8 Key Takeaways about Social Media and News. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2014/03/26/8-key-takeaways-about-social-media-and-news/
  • Newman, N., Research Associate, & Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. (2015, May 15). Social Networks and their Role in News. Retrieved from http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2015/social-networks-and-their-role-in-news-2015/
  • (2012, September 27). One-third of adults under 30 get news on social networks now. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/2012/one-third-of-adults-under-30-get-news-on-social-networks-now/189776/
  • Peterson, A. (2014, May 6). Three charts that explain how U.S. journalists use social media. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/05/06/three-charts-that-explain-how-u-s-journalists-use-social-media/
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