The Social Media Revolution: Exploring the Impact on Journalism and News Media Organizations

By Ruth A. Harper
2010, Vol. 2 No. 03 | pg. 4/4 |

Concluding Thoughts on the " Revolution"

Without a doubt, by examining the above data and results, one can conclude social media certainly has affected journalism and will continue to affect it in the future. While many aspects of journalism have been touched, social media has brought to light three fundamental areas within journalism: the public’s trust of the media; the importance of local news organizations and their likelihood to remain in print; and the manner in which news is and will be covered using social media.

The public’s trust, or lack thereof, in the media may have played a role in causing the social media . Social media has shown the value of local news organizations as well as the advantages the new tools can bring small media organizations. Finally, social media has given journalists new ways to report and has opened the door for members of the general public who have something to say but can’t go through a journalist for one reason or another.

In general, although the American public tends to believe watchdog journalism is important, many Americans in this day and age feel reluctant to trust mainstream media, according to the public perceptions survey. They feel big business or politics or other aspects have overshadowed independent journalism, and in many instances, some, especially the younger population, have lashed out by resorting to online and social media, although not completely deserting the mainstream news organizations themselves (Loechner).

Social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube offer skeptical audiences the chance to receive news straight from the witnesses. Rather than relying on a reporter to speak with someone at an explosion in Montana, audiences can reach out and speak to eyewitnesses themselves. Or if they are one of those witnesses, they can share their story with the world before reporters even arrive on the scene (Lowery).

The situation in Montana brings one to the next important area: local media. As we become a more global world, we also become a more local world. We want to know what’s going on internationally as well as down the street because all of it affects us directly or indirectly. While international conglomerate media organizations may be seemingly failing right now, these types of organizations may find the most success in social media in the long run. However, because fewer options tend to exist for local news, local news organizations traditional media are still fairly intact and will remain fairly strong for the foreseeable future. In addition to maintaining traditional print and broadcast news, local news organizations like Lowery’s in Montana have been able to add to this local media success using social media. Also, this can help smaller organizations report important local information to large, distant media organizations that may not be there right away.

Local organizations can also obtain sources and disseminate breaking news using social media tools. The way local news organizations use social media can also apply to international and national organizations. These uses are fairly obvious, but with a little imagination, the possibilities and ways journalists can use social media will increase, improve and be able to change the world of journalism, most likely making it more honest and transparent.

Finally, as it has already done to a degree, social media will continue to change the way journalists gather and report the news. Reporters can find sources and disseminate information using social media tools. Eyewitnesses will become reporters, but the world will still need “traditional” journalists to go in and verify the facts. Perhaps in the future, professional journalists won’t be so much pure information disseminators but truth disseminators. If you want to see what people say is happening right now, check Twitter; if you want to see what’s actually true and what might be false, check CNN or The New York Times. In the end, no matter the direction it moves in or the new shape or form it takes, news organizations will never cease to exist as long as and freedom of speech exists.

Researchers will develop plenty of detailed questions as the social media and journalism worlds continue to collide. How can news organizations make money from this? How can audiences and journalists sort truth from error? What will happen to print editions of large newspapers?

These and hundreds of other questions involving the future of journalism could be responded to in a million different ways, and the next generation of journalists and communications professionals will decide what will work best to preserve the basic premise of journalism: Witnessing an event and telling the story about it. After all, story telling, the defining thread of journalism, no matter what strange and new forms it may take, will never, ever cease to exist.


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