What impact is social media having on journalism?
Last month, we looked at the digital future of journalism and tech PR.
We think digital journalism is great. Not just because it’s quick and easy to share news stories with people all over the world, but also because it opens up the conversation. Anyone with access to the internet can shape and create the news. It’s no surprise, then, that the role of social media platforms in journalism is also growing accordingly.
Here’s what you need to know about four of the most popular social media platforms for journalism.
Fun fact: journalists make up the largest category out of Twitter’s 150,000 verified users. There are around 37,500 of them. According to research, that’s as many as the number of verified actors and musicians combined.
Clearly, Twitter must be a pretty valuable resource for journalists. After all, they’re busy people. They wouldn’t bother with it if it wasn’t.
One of the biggest uses of Twitter for journalism is breaking news stories. The short, snappy nature of tweets make them the perfect format for sharing bitesize news updates. There are also a growing number of journalists ‘live tweeting’ global events – that is, sharing updates via Twitter as they happen.
Another way journalists are using Twitter is to follow up leads, or to obtain quotes for stories. It’s often not journalists who break news on Twitter – just ordinary people, who happen to be near these events. These breaking tweets are then picked up by journalists, who will follow up the story in more detail.
Periscope is an app that allows users to live stream video from their mobiles. Their ethos is all about “exploring the world through someone else’s eyes”.
Periscope was acquired by Twitter in February 2015, and now has over 10 million users. Part of its appeal is its simplicity: users film through the Periscope app, and the footage is instantly broadcast to their Twitter page. Twitter users don’t need a Periscope account to view broadcasts from other people: the footage will simply auto-play in their feed.
Video has aways been an integral component in broadcast journalism, but the appeal of Periscope is that it works in realtime. Allowing viewers to witness events as they happen makes them feel more connected to other users – even if they’re the other side of the world. This increased connectivity and human involvement is what the future of digital journalism is all about.
Launched in January 2013, Vine is another platform exclusively for sharing video. The six-second looping video clips shared on the platform are known as ‘vines’.
Like many social media sites, Vine was initially populated by a lot of comedy clips and cat videos. However, it is becoming increasingly-widely used for broadcast journalism.
The six-second limit means all video content is broken into easily digestible chunks – perfect for getting hard-hitting news across to lots of people in a consumable format. If this encourages more people to take an interest in the news – especially those who don’t currently do so – that can only be a good thing.
This article from the Guardian looks at the use of Vine in reporting on the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.
Launched back in 2012, Medium has just recently taken off in a big way. It’s an online platform for publishing written content. Medium co-founder, Ev Williams, describes it as “a new place on the internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends”.
Medium is open to anyone who wants to publish content, though many people simply use it as a place to read new content. Users can share articles, and ‘up-vote’ their favourites. In that respect, it’s like a combination of several different social network sites.
The premise behind Medium is that they are trying to promote quality writing, not the reputation or celebrity of a writer’s profile. This makes it very important for digital journalism. It’s not about who you are, it’s about what you have to say.
Social media has a vital role to play when it comes to making journalism more accessible. The communicative nature of social media not only means that more people can contribute to new stories, but also encourage debate on news once it has broken.
As digital journalism becomes increasingly mainstream, we reckon social media will continue to develop in order to accommodate and complement it. We look forward to seeing what the future will bring for social media and journalism.
What impact do you think social media is having on journalism? We’d love to hear form you. Let us know!