In the past ten years, the way we receive news has changed radically. Whilst most people still go to more traditional news outlets (radio, newspapers, the TV etc.) for their news, many of these and more are also using the internet and, more specifically, social media as a means for discovering up-to-date news stories…
Twitter has been a cornerstone for this revolution with trending topics being one of the site’s mainstays since the early days of its inception. The use of the hash-tag was, originally, brought about as a way of tagging posts and categorising them to ensure content was searchable. This technology really began to come into its own once Twitter’s users began to post photos and eyewitness updates from news events, as they were happening.
Perhaps the earliest prevalent example of this style of content categorisation was the US Airways Flight 1549 which crashed into the Hudson River in 2009. Within moments of this happening, Twitter was awash with photos and eyewitness accounts of events as they unfolded. Social media was able to keep up with these events in a way which the traditional news media couldn’t; the updates were raw and simple, but current. Equally, the deaths of celebrities are often reported first through social media with many seeking out more official news outlets to confirm or deny these stories. A key example of this was the death of Michael Jackson, again in 2009. Twitter users sat by their computers as the news slowly trickled through with varying degrees of details as the world began to mourn one of its most beloved entertainers.
Can this form of content ever really replace traditional news?
It is, perhaps, a matter of opinion. Millennials and those who spend a significant proportion of their day on Social Media may be more willing to embrace such a change as it would fit directly into their current internet usage, whilst others may still find the simple pleasure of reading an actual newspaper to be a fundamental part of their day.
Social Media is likely to play an increasingly important role in news reportage
In a world where ‘supply and demand’ is the order of the day, why would you choose to read a newspaper which is reporting on events some time after they happen, when you can log on to Twitter or Facebook as watch them unfold online?
It is this question which hints at the fact that Social Media may well overtake more traditional news media. When the entire purpose of the news is to update the world on current affairs, how can newspapers and TV news crews hope to keep up in a world where everyone has a camera in their pockets along with the ability to post those photos and comments worldwide in a matter of moments? Perhaps social media won’t replace it entirely though; if the more traditional media can adapt and evolve with the demands of their audience then perhaps they will survive yet. The news, like everything in this world, needs to be immediate and current in a way that editing processes cannot keep up with. In the future, we may well find ourselves relying on social media for these timely updates.