Friday, January 29, 2016

News in the (Social) Media

Think about the last place you read a piece of news you were interested in. Was it in a newspaper? Maybe an online news journal? According to Wired Magazine, Facebook and Twitter are where most people get their news.

In short little bytes of news, people scroll through Facebook and Twitter multiple times throughout the day and are likely to see posts shared or retweeted from their family and friends or from trending topics that appear on their feeds. In fact, these feeds are called your 'news feeds,' and while most of the news may just be updates from the lives of your friends, research shows that more and more people are getting their news fix from Facebook.

Wired posted a brief article on how Facebook and Twitter are really where people get their news. From research statistics by the Pew Research group, it shows that the percentage of users who get their news from the two social media sites has increased in the past two years by a significant amount.

The percentage of Facebook users who get their news from the site has increased by 16%, and Twitter has had an 11% increase. It makes sense to think that as more and more users join the social media sites that the percentage of users who would get news would also go up, especially as younger generations get into social media more. However, according to the Wired article, "users of all genders, ages, races, demographics, education levels, and household incomes claimed they increasingly got their news on Facebook in 2015 compared to 2013."

Looking at numbers from other studies, Pew Research shows just how quickly people manage to find their way to news sites and how often that occurs. In light of this, it's evident that people often travel from Facebook to a news article or site in a surprisingly short amount of time, given how often many people check social media throughout the day.

According to a article on social media and news, of a survey of adults, 78% get their news while they're on Facebook for other reasons and 4% of the adults in the survey feel Facebook is "the most important way to get news.

These numbers and the information is important because it shows how, in our modern world, people are reading the news. It has become increasingly uncommon to pick up a newspaper (that is if the local paper still delivers or has a physical copy). It influences how people read the news and so it can impact how reporters and journalists are going to need to deliver the news to the masses. When competing in a sea of click-bait titles, it's important to be able to have the story make it's mark.

But what does this mean for news organizations in the future? Going forward, it seems that more news will be read from social media. Since social media is such on the cutting edge of information, his will likely increase competition between news outlets to be the first ones to get a story out. Whichever one gets their story to go viral or be read/reposted the most will end up with the most initial credibility.

To me, this means a chance for news outlets to do away with fact checking and other methods to validate and vet their stories for the sake of a quicker turn over rate. I think it presents a challenge to news outlets and will end up discrediting a number of them over time, as they are too quick to report on preliminary information. It only takes a few bits of misinformation to go viral and it's difficult to recall or fix a mistake once it has taken off that way. I imagine that, while it will be a challenge for news organizations in the coming years, with time they will adapt and learn how to balance traditional story reporting and social media reporting.


Think about how you read the news and catch up on world events. How often do you find news to read through social media? What do you think this means for our news outlets? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



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