Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Rise of Social Media and the Effect on Traditional Journalism

Mira Kuhar

Journalism today is not as it was known just a few decades ago. It used to be about the broadcast sphere; television and radio stations once reined king. To find your information, you either needed to turn on your TV, radio or pick up a newspaper. Journalists wrote in a broader sense, as they couldn’t afford to be opinionated due to the fact that their story was to reach a broad audience, not a niche one. 

But now, with the Internet and technology added to the mix, journalism has taken on a new purpose and new way of operation. With the swipe of a finger and the touch of a screen, information can be accessed in just seconds.  According to the Pew Research Center in this article, 55% of smart phone users have obtained news on their device at least once in a one-week period. This proves that people are consuming not only news, but opinions and ideologies from their peers at such high rates that it can be hard to keep up.  Cue the role of social media to today’s society.

Social media has connected people in ways never thought before. Not only can you see information about your friends and the people you know in minutes, but you can also see the articles they’ve shared, viewpoints they have and brands that they follow. This doesn’t just apply to every day folks. Celebrities are getting on this sharing bandwagon too. Today information is passed around as a habit, and it’s important for journalists and news outlets to not only understand this, but understand it in a way that is ethically sound but also used to their advantage.

This infographic created by Edelman, one of the top Public Relations firms in the world, explains just how news outlets do this.  They explain the top four best practices to using social media as your storytelling outlet. These ways of using social media for story telling are extremely good examples of how to ethically use social media in relation to journalism:
  1. Craft an inherently shareable story. Having a sharable piece of news or article is what will make or break your article. As noted before, people are getting their news from social media sites at increasing rates, which means people are getting their news from what their friends share. You can make sure your article is “shareable” by including these five things: imagery, localization, trending topics, human voice and brevity.
  2. Deepen relationships with journalists. Knowing that journalists are evolving their craft to fit with the norms of social media is key. According to the infographic, 76% of journalists feel pressured to think about how their story will be shared on social media.
  3. Help news organizations to create original content. It’s becoming the norm to use original content rather than videos or pictures that are branded. Creating content that is all yours and original will not only garner more views and interactions, but adding media to your content makes it more shareable.
  4. See what’s over the horizon. This industry is all about staying up-to-date with trends and sometimes, even ahead. These five aspects are what journalists see as the future for their field: more digital mobile, quicker turnaround, more original video, smaller and more focused staff and rising social influence.

The influence of social media is helping journalists and news outlets to distribute their stories, and it’s all just beginning. There are still parts that are unexplored, and it’s important to make sure that ethics are being applied when taking your stories to social media. It’s a very open sphere of information and because of this, things can get messy and even cross lines in ways that it wouldn’t have before if social media did not exist.  In the end, social media has changed the way that news outlets are run today, and it’s important to understand how to use it correctly and efficiently to better your business.

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