Social media and the transformation of Journalism

Social media and the transformation of journalism

The rise of social media has seen a rise in the prominence of citizen journalism. Not only is Twitter and Instagram a great starting point for businesses and celebrities to promote their projects/goods/services, but it has also provided users a platform with opportunity to become a journalist. By blogging, reviewing, photographing, sharing links and commenting on global issues, consumers become prosumers; where participation is its own reward (Mitew, 2014), resulting in a cyber-culture where citizen journalism is quite often merely standard behaviour and use of the Internet but also becoming a growing, deliberate practice online.

To look at the concept of citizen journalism we first must acknowledge the status and workings of traditional journalism. Axel Bruns (2009) stated mainstream journalism “offers news-as-product; a collection of easily digestible reports based on research, ready for consumption,” while citizen journalism “provides news-as-process” which entails a continuation and unfinished coverage of events and topics that encourages user participation.

Furthermore, Goode (2009) defines citizen journalism as a “range of web-based practices whereby ‘ordinary’ users engage in journalistic practices”, but also the term is used loosely and covers activities such as re-posting, linking and commenting on news information provided by professionals or news companies.

Thanks to social media sites such as Twitter, citizen journalism has been given a chance to fully develop and flourish. Johnson (2009) said with social networks, live searching and link-sharing that “Twitter has amounted to the most interesting alternative to Google’s near monopoly in searching.”

To compare Twitter to Google is actually mind-blowing, when you really consider that more often people are getting their news faster from Twitter and choose this as their news source and search engine for current issues. This information is important, because if enough people are tweeting about the same thing, it becomes ‘news’. Johnson sums this up perfectly when he says “Tweets become valuable when aggregated,” drawing a connection of individual contributions to the metaphor “a bridge of pebbles”. One tweet may seem worthless but if every person from a city writes one tweet on the same subject, it becomes a fortified bridge and a link from the cyber world to real-life issues.

Perfect examples of single tweets, or pebbles, forming news, or a bridge, are the use of social media, particularly Twitter, during the Arab Spring, and more recently the Ferguson protests.

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4 thoughts on “Social media and the transformation of Journalism

  1. The new information paradigm has allowed for the constant proliferation of content to be sourced within a distributed network. The transition from traditional media to this new culture of citizen journalism has truly benefited most if not all in society. This fast paced, ever present abundance of information has essentially allowed for traditional journalism to be pushed aside, and now especially through social media outlets we see a rise in the dissemination of news, unfiltered content and a space where all can participate. The power of the citizen can be seen in many aspects of the media ecology, as it has gradually gravitated to a user controlled information network. Personally the current trajectory can only develop and this in itself is is a spectacular aspect of citizen journalism. Facebook and Twitter are prominent platforms that enable mass content, distribution and immediacy without the bias present in mass media. We are now the controllers of our own news, how we access it, and whether we choose to engage with it, an aspect which will hopefully continue to progress in the future.

    An article on how the digital age has shaped the production of information: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/jun/11/rise-of-citizen-journalism

  2. I like how you have defined the concepts for the week and the role and functions of citizen journalists. A single tweet has the ability to create social and political change, as well as the creating a news story. The Boston Bombings is an example that was mentioned in the lecture, with Reddit and Twitter users investigating images and individuals. While these platforms had an incredibly quick feedback loop and ability to seek the opinions of experts, misinformation was distributed resulting in the broadcast of false suspects. This was also replicated in legacy media, highlighting that professional journalists must have an online presence to validate and delegitimise certain “news” stories. Good post with clear definitions!

  3. Your distinction between traditional journalism and citizen journalism is as clear as it is insightful, not to mention the comparison you draw between Twitter and Google. It’s crazy to think that something that was created with such an unrelated purpose has developed to become the biggest rival to a search engine that has always been and will always be a search engine. I guess that goes to prove the rising popularity and perceived value of these more personal journalistic accounts among those on the internet. All in all a very well structured and written blog post.

  4. This is a really well written post. I like the point you drew from Axel Bruns about incomplete coverage of new events generating interest among citizens. Comparing Twitter to Google is not something that I would have thought about doing because I think of Twitter as a medium for quick updates, as opposed to a platform for finding information on new topics. This post really gives me a lot to think about, well done 🙂

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