My colleague and I wrote a joint article on the evolution of journalism.
By : Allana J. Barefield and Prinsey Walker
Paul Revere rode a horse yelling, “The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming”. The fastest way to warn the American Colonists that British soldiers were on American soil. Now, a person can yell, “The Carter Twins are coming, the Carter Twins are coming!”by pull out their phone and learn that Beyoncé is pregnant with twins.
Change occurred in cellular technology in the 2010s, which created a new culture for society, social media. This technological evolution that began five years ago, changed the rotation of news and the role of the journalists.
Social media users are not sitting around anymore for the news, but creating it themselves, said Janella Newsome, news and media relations manager Xavier University of Louisiana . The majority of the time they are the ones beating out the actual journalists. “As a result, traditional news organizations, as well as traditional sharing methods, are suffering,” Newsome said.
“Now journalists are forced to use social media to gather information, find sources and engage with audiences.”
The Good and The Bad
Newsome argued that the world is changing and everyone wants everything fast – that’s why social media is thriving. “Social media provides; speed or immediacy. However, some journalists believe social media undermines traditional journalistic values,” she said. “The concerns regard accuracy, the need for verification and the loss of control over the information.”
With all of this change, Newsome believes journalists and citizen journalists must remain vigilant.This is a time where society is more knowledgeable about the news but, one problem about social media is the accuracy, ” she said, “Since anyone can post on Twitter or Facebook it doesn’t mean that it’s the truth. It’s important to check their facts before the reader can take the message into account.”
Some journalists find “man on the street” reporting to be a good start to creating the story.“Social media is helpful because it gives you an outline,”Gregory Lee, the editorial director for NBA.com said. “It is like a first draft, before writing the story.”
Shaun King, civil rights activist and senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, said inaccurate reporting is the hardest news to retract. “Lies spread quickly, but when the truth comes out, the truth never becomes viral,” King said.
Beyond guaranteeing that news is accurate, journalists have the task of controlling their stories on several sites. Having all of these social media platforms is competition to journalists, but at the same time journalists know what they are doing since it’s their job. “It’s all about who can disseminate the information the quickest, but accuracy has to take priority,” Newsome said.
Multiple social networking sites benefited King in creating a readership. “My articles are the most read articles in my newspaper because of my social networking,” King said. “You wouldn’t know me without social media.” The activist, who has 624,000 followers on Twitter, writes stories in order to inform followers, not to gain fame. “Those are real people, I don’t see them for likes or clicks,” he said.
Going Beyond the Surface
However, though people may click on stories available on their social networking feed that appear to be interesting because of a catchy headline, Lee said that they are not reading the material in depth.
“The goal is to make headlines that draw you to the story,” Lee said. “With social media, you lose depth to stories because people are getting quick takes, instead of getting more in depth or gaining a better perspective of that story.”
For Newsome, who is an anchor at Channel 4 WWL-TV in New Orleans, she enjoys her job, but social media can be taxing. “For instance, when I’m out in the field covering a TV news story, my focus is to gather the facts, conduct the interviews, shoot the b-roll, write the script, get the script approved by the executive producers and then go live,” she said.
“It becomes much more challenging when you have to stop what you are doing to take a picture using a cell phone and shooting 30 seconds of video, write copy using 140 characters or less, then post.”
Yet, King enjoys the speed. “Social media has changed my life as a journalist. I don’t have to wait for the print paper to come out. If it’s an emergency, I can share a story in real time.”
From the Paper to 140 Characters
McKenzie Moss, a sophomore chemistry major at Xavier University Louisiana, understands that social media is not always accurate.But because of her busy schedule, it is easier to read a tweet in 140 characters or less than reading an entire article.
“To be honest, I don’t even read the newspaper. Back at home, the paper is delivered to our door every day and my mom collects it,” Moss said.
Moss is an active Twitter user, but knows to fact check what her peers are saying through outlets like “CNN, NYT and FOX, you know the main outlets,” she said. Since Moss used Twitter religiously, it has opened her eyes to another world. “Without social media I probably wouldn’t have known about police brutality was happening so frequently,” she said.
“Having videos of Alton Sterling or Sandra Bland cases gets on social media and reaches the country within minutes, the videos hold these officers accountable for their actions.” Moss said.
King also finds value in social networking because the media platform has the ability to draw attention to everyday action that would never be covered, without video evidence.
“When I was (20 years old) I only heard of police brutality in New York or Los Angeles.” King said, “Now we hear about police brutality wherever it happens.”
Though social media journalism may be inaccurate, too overwhelming for certain journalists, or is the flame that sparks a story for some journalists, King said people have to use it to positively in order to impact society.
“It has a lot of power, but you must use it for something good.” King said.