Social media is defined as "forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)".
Many people may think that this form of communication is simply a quick and easy way to share ideas or opinions about a certain topic without any severe consequences.
However, those 140 characters you may post on Twitter, or the picture you may post on Instagram can have a large effect on your future. Even though you have access to deleting social media posts, they will be on the web forever.
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The Power of Social Media
Many people overlook the power of social media. Many things that are posted can be taken out of context and reflect poorly on the person behind the post. It is very easy for social media posts to be deceiving to the viewer. A simple filter or different angle can change the whole effect of a photo.
It is very crucial for journalists to realize the power of social media. One simple post can have the power to ruin the reputation, or even the career of a journalist.
Social media is a great way for journalists to immediately share stories and immediately receive feedback on those stories. Unfortunately, the freedom and agility of social media can cause many problems in journalism.
The fact that it is so easy to post on social media can cause some journalists to leave out important facts and not publish an accurate story. Even though it may seem like social media is a more laid back source of journalism, it does not mean that journalists can cut corners when it comes to what they publish.
Social Media as a Reliable Source
The ethics codes of journalism still apply to social media. According to RTDNA, journalists should still "uphold ethical standards of fairness, accuracy, truthfulness, transparency, and independence" while posting on social media.
This does not go to say that social media cannot be a reliable news source. There are countless instances when social media is used as a reliable source for information about current news.
When a major societal issue occurs, many people immediately check social media to see if they can gather any more facts on the issue. There are many news companies that have reliable sources on social media accounts that can be trusted to release valid and newsworthy information.
Social media may seem to have many downfalls, but if it is used correctly it can serve as a quick and reputable way to publish stories. Social media is without a doubt a major form of journalism, and it is a quickly growing in society.
As a journalist, it is important to learn how to navigate around these social media sites, and know how to become a reliable source to the public.
Social media does not seem like a fad that will only last for a little while longer. Instead, it is quickly becoming engraved into society as a vital means of communication and news gathering. This fact makes it so much more important for journalists to master the art of social media.
As journalists, it is our duty to make sure that social media is used as a reliable source of information. We must make sure that social media is viewed as a blessing, rather than being viewed as a curse.