The future of journalism: Is social media creating TOO much news?
Has the influence of social media made writing news stories that much harder? Or has it never been easier to read about celebrity culture? Read on to find out what I think.
Since the launch of social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in the early 2000s multimedia has flourished. Particularly in news, being able to view a topic at a click of a button has allowed millions to access articles they would never read before.
It has created an unimaginable consumer culture for everything from news to celebrity culture and in this article, I will be exploring how this has changed and the detrimental effects this may be having on news and journalists.
Fast and Free
Typically, news stories have a quick turnaround between production and publishing but free social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook have allowed for news to be published at astonishing speeds at any time of the day without charge.
The perks of the fast and free news we can access are that it increases interaction between journalist and reader, meaning that building a reputation in news writing has never been so easy. With unprecedented access to a journalist’s online profiles and even more access to a celebrities day to day life, we as readers can engage in their unfiltered thoughts, stories, and opinions and interact with them without consequence.
As someone with a keen interest in the news, and keeping up to date with current affairs Twitter is a godsend for me, as within minutes of a story going live it can be trending. This immediate publication means that stories can be published in dribs and drabs, and journalists don’t have to wait for the full story before sharing the news. This can make stories hard to follow, or often there are mistakes that can be damaging to a news reporter’s reputation with issues like fake news being so prevalent on social media, particularly in celebrity culture it creates a huge issue of unreliability unless it is coming from a credible source.
Digital journalism is reliant on clickbait, and journalists often use this form of advertising as it is designed to draw a reader in. An article from The Economic Times discusses the Facebook algorithm and how it is “designed to predict which posts will be most valuable and meaningful to an individual over the long term”.
Despite the algorithm being unable to dictate what we consider to be news, as it is after all just software controlled by humans, it is altering how we find that news and how that news is being delivered. It means that social media outlets can shape the news being viewed in order to adhere to their own advertising agendas.
This may prove as a challenge for an upcoming journalist, as the algorithm could limit user reach or interaction for someone with a smaller, less credible following. As being a newer addition to the politics of the Journalistic side of Twitter, I find it harder to gain interaction with my own tweets unless it is responding to someone with a larger following or tweeting about a trending celebrity.
Becoming more personal
Being a journalist with a public profile has many benefits, and social media is to thank for this, as often being able to put a face to the name when reading articles means the reader has a better personal understanding of the person behind the screen.
Twitter and Facebook in particular allow journalists to comment on things as they unfold; the viral nature of social media means the audience targeted can be well outside of the news industry if the right tweet is produced, which is great for a journalist looking to gain a following.
The downside of the personal nature of social media is that it is easier for unhappy readers to reach out to journalists they disagree with and female journalists, in particular, can be the target of the more extreme ends of aggressive harassment which as a woman myself there is the risk of tweeting something and receiving backlash.
Overall, social media is a great outlet for fast producing news and has reshaped the way we view news today… whether that is a good thing or not is for you to decide!