Kevin Patrick Cotter
In class on Tuesday, April 25th, we watched a TED Talk of Clay Shirky speaking on the topic of how social media can make history. In this TED talk, one of the main points that Shirky discussed was how the way the news is being reported is rapidly changing due to ability that social media gives us to both produce and consume. Shirky used the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China as an example to show just how powerful and effective social media can be when reporting the news. In this example, Shirky emphasized how the news of the earthquake was being reported via Twitter, text message, photo, and video AS the actual event was taking place. From this, Shirky proposed the idea that we are all becoming self journalists. This idea of self-journalism really made me stop and think for a second. Are traditional journalists in danger of becoming irrelevant by the rise of social media? In efforts to gain better insight and knowledge of this topic, I stumbled upon the following video that explains the impact that social media is having on journalism today.
Long gone are the days when news reporters could report the news as it was originally intended to be reported. It is quite evident from this video, that with today’s technology and unlimited mobile accessibility, that anyone has the ability to tell their own story. Social media and the internet are the two resources to thank for this. Because of them, we are getting more breaking news than ever before, and we are getting it as it is actually happening, often times before news organizations have the chance to report it. Here is a convincing info graphic presented by schools.com to show you how this is true.
The next question I asked myself after looking at these statistics was, can we actually trust the news that social media gives us to be accurate and factual? I firmly believe that just because social media is a fast and efficient way of getting the news, it does not mean that the information it delivers is 100% accurate. There still needs to be a news organization such as ABC or CNN that can sort out fact from fiction and provide the public with trusted news. This is where I believe the opportunity still lies for the traditional journalists of today. In today’s society, the role of the traditional journalist has changed from a pure information disseminator to a truth disseminator. No matter how many people witness or tweet a particular news story, the world will always need traditional journalists to go in and verify the facts.
Without a doubt, one can conclude that social media has impacted traditional journalism greatly, and will continue to affect it in the future. However, I do not believe that social media is replacing traditional journalism but rather is improving it. Social media has given journalists new ways to report information and has opened many doors for members of the public to have a voice without having to go through a particular journalist. The coexistence and roles of both new media and traditional journalism has helped to optimize the way news is delivered and verified. In the ever-changing digital era that we live in today, the way news is delivered will always continue to change. No matter what strange and new forms that technology, media, and the news take on, news organizations and traditional journalism will never cease to exist.