Social media could arguably be the most influential source of information around, where social awareness is this generations’ foundation to newsworthy updates. Our generation’s news cast is coming to a point where such journalists are now reporting on what they have read about or seen online rather than reporting to us about the actual event. For example, television and online news casts are getting their information from Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites and broadcasting as soon as possible to relay such breaking news. I recall watching the news a couple of days ago where a T.V spokesperson was updating the public on a celebrity’s baby name, where she stated her source was updated via Twitter. This brings me to an important point regarding validity and accuracy of the information at hand considering “the impact of social media on the definition of authority is not just affecting the profession of journalism, but also the fields of academic knowledge” Hermida, 2012, P. 659). Though my example of a celebrity’s baby name is not considered to be vital information or academia in any sense; however, one can only imagine the potential for chaos if someone was to post something illegal or faulty information about a serious crime. Police and school officials even use Facebook now to track students who are involved with legality issues. In terms of academia, youth and the individuals who use these websites tend to believe what they hear (or see in this case) as why would an individual post something that is not true; for example a fact on health or history.
With the emergence of new social media opportunities, I believe there are various ways to participate more directly in citizen journalism and social activism; as the internet is more available than ever and is easily accessible to even those of a low socio-economic status. Bruns & Highfield (2012) describe citizen journalism as industrial reporting combined with the new internet-based media forms in which give rise to new models and opportunities; or simply “an assemblage of broadly journalistic activities which are characterized by specific, practical and technological affordances” (P.4). Keeping these definitions in mind, we could consider the audience as the internet produsers and consumers who are in fact utilizing information in order to inform and re-inform one another.
Accordingly, with the emerging prevalence of cell phones, the internet is accessible almost everywhere; along with the availability of such technology, individuals are able to report news and stories more quickly than news reporters because they have a traditional pattern of professionalism to follow and investigate before publication. The technological advances have played an important role as disruptor and enabler in these developments (Bruns & Highfield, 2012) considering that many social influences are hindering the validity of such information. Not only are these new technologies taking over conventional publishing (leading to a decline in newspaper sales) but also advertising (by linking to sites like Google and Facebook). The internet also provides the public with more freedom of speech; although freedom of the press is supposedly guaranteed where as the freedom of the individual journalism is not (Bruns & Highfield, 2012).
Overall, these ‘real-time’ information networks that connect the public to the latest news on what is interesting (Twitter, nd), does not emphasize the downfalls of validity and accuracy of the news and social updates. With more technological advancements and modifications, we are given a plethora of opportunities to take advantage of, and cause an obscene amount of complications and misunderstandings. This raises an important issue for our future youth and how they will interact and utilize online media in the future.
Hermida, A. (2012). TWEETS AND TRUTH: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verification. Journalism Practice. 6:5-6, p659-668.
Bruns, A. & T. Highfield. (2012). Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism. pre-publication draft on personal site [Snurb.info]. Published in: Lind, R. A. ed. (2012). Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang. p15-32.