By Darren Gilbert
Having said this, a question needs to be put forward: If social media has changed the way people gather information, has it changed journalism?
If you speak to NextLevelOfNews
editor-in-chief, Steffen Konrath, he'd say it hasn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that social media hasn’t provided a few challenges. Speaking to Heavy Chef’s Wendy Tayler last month
, Konrath pointed out that social media makes the job more demanding: “Without a gate to control it. You need to find ways to identify meaning in the noise. Journalists still have to fact-check, but the pressure to do that in real-time and with much more information than before is a challenge.”
For any journalist, the credibility of your source is what can either make or break a story. It’s a topic which Mail & Guardian
editor, Nic Dawes glossed over when he spoke
and its impact on journalism. “Personally I rarely tweet breaking news, and my principle is that if the story isn’t potentially harmful or defamatory, and I have a very good source I’ll say it’s unconfirmed. I’ll then get a second source and follow up with a confirmation.”
This leads to the first key area (of four) that digital engagement strategist, Debra Askanase, believes has impacted
. There has been a change in the definition of an authoritative news source. “In the age of social, a newspaper and its journalists must earn authority.” For her, authority equals trust, which is determined by the consumer. “For decades … there’s been a ‘paper of record’, she continues, “that has been considered the authority on what is news.” Today, there is the valid argument that social media is replacing traditional journalism as a news source.
It’s one which can be backed up with an infographic
on Social Media Today
, which shows that over 50% of people learnt of breaking news via social media. However, there should also be a word of caution as it also found that 49.1% of those who had heard breaking news found out later that it the news was false. As much as social networks allows more people to disseminate news, it doesn’t make it anymore factual.
It does, however, allow for a public that questions everything. News organisations have now begun to understand that online friends are the new news authorities. “With the rise of social media follow the rise of news participants,” continues Askanase. A perfect example of this is the rise (and relevance) of data journalism or as the Guardian
says, ‘Open News.’ Arguably one of the most well-known advocates of data journalism, the British newspaper has the saying, “Help the Guardian
shape the news by talking to our editors and reporters about upcoming stories as we work on them.” Social media has provided an open window to the modern day newsroom.
Askanase also believes that the way that news is shared is shaping the new industry. It’s what has resulted in Associated Press’ social media editor, Eric Carvin pointing to an increasing need
for journalists to use social media, and in doing so; immerse themselves in what is being said. Askanase agrees. “It is important for news organisations and journalists to be part of online communities where news is shared, participate in online conversations, and share news themselves.” It allows for the creation of what Carvin says is a more intimate relationship between journalists and readers.
While this swings back to the point on authority and trust, it also leads to the last key area and point that Askanase makes: social media has changed the news cycle. “The breaking news and context stage of the news cycle are shortening, and the analysis and archival stages are lengthening,” For Lindsay Kalter, the ‘Twittercycle’
trumps the traditional one however, as Bob Garfield on Mashable
pointed out last year, it can precede bad journalism.
What is your view? How has social media transformed journalism?