Today, it’s easy to access the news with just a click of a button. With sites such as Facebook and Twitter, people can consume the latest news straight from the source through their smartphone without having to pay for it. In fact, in a survey conducted by Reuters Institute for The Study of Journalism, 54 percent of 70,000 online users across 36 countries use social media as a source of news each week. This ease of access has posed both as a challenge and an opportunity for journalists and news outlets.
With countless events happening across the globe, journalists are now able to deliver snippets of news in real time. Long gone are the days when yesterday’s news become today’s headline. Right now, it’s all about lightning-speed dissemination. Twitter, a widely-used social media platform for news, lets reporters share the breaking stories while it’s happening and at the same time interact with followers. Live videos through Facebook live also has a more interactive approach that makes audiences feel like they themselves have been witnesses to the event. The downside to this race for journalism is being more prone to errors and audiences getting unverified information. For reporters who are using Facebook live to report on issues containing shocking content such as terrorism and crime, there won’t be opportunity to edit and remove the traumatizing images from the report. Social media has now taken over the role as publishers, with algorithm as basis for their relevance. The knowledge for digital marketing tools makes it an important and relevant skill even journalists must have a brief knowledge of to stay relevant. When in doubt, journalist can rely on digital agencies like First Page.
With free news distribution comes digital journalism’s dependence on advertising. Facebook, a top social media outlet for free news distribution, uses algorithms to decide which articles are to be widely distributed. News with video content, especially if streamed live, get prioritized for distribution. Articles that are directly published on Facebook without redirecting to the news outlet’s site also gets their preference. This new way of distribution gave way to the rise of news organizations that are only exclusive to social networks such as BuzzFeed and AJ+. The amount of news people consume on a daily basis makes authenticity an important issue especially with the emergence of fake news. From the same survey, only 24 percent believe that social media separate fact from fiction effectively, compared to 40 percent for the news media. With news outlets moving to third-party platforms to expand their audiences, especially younger ones, it will be challenging for news organizations and audiences to determine which is fake and real.
Social media has also played a key role in making news interactive by allowing audiences to react and provide opinions regarding the issue. The reporter is no longer just a name in print but a person, and that gives journalists the opportunity to know their audiences on a personal level. Everyone can now practice freedom of speech through the comment section, and news is no longer a one-way communication. While these changes are just some of the few things that has shaped journalism in the technological world, more things are coming considering how fast technology is endlessly innovating.