COM0011 – Assignment #1 – Is Social Media Negatively Affecting Responsible Journalism?

To fully appreciate this post, you need to understand my perspective. I am older than the average student in College or University, some (not me) would even use the word “mature”. At this point in my life, I have spent 8 times more hours working than studying.

When I studied Public Relations some 19 *cough* years ago, social media was not a “thing.” Internet, not yet being mainstreamed, was only used by the most avant-gardiste of organizations and was barely considered in communications planning.

I know that for today’s 20-year old, it is hard to imagine such an era: a time when e-mail was still marvelled at, when the telephone (which was used from home) was our primary means of “instant” communications, and when you had to watch TV, or even read a paper version of the newspaper, to get the latest news.

These days, because of the Internet, news is obtained more instantaneously. Through a quick search, or even by visiting news sites, we know about major events that have occurred across the planet some 60, 30, or even 15 minutes ago.

This has greatly impacted the news cycle. What used to be a 24-hour cycle (based on newspapers), has been reduced to a cycle of an hour or less.

With the introduction of social media, this standard has been challenged yet again. As users, we have all had instances of learning about a major event, or even the latest scores from a big game, from our Facebook or Twitter feeds before this information is even reported in the traditional media.

How is this affecting journalism? I, for one, have noticed a decrease in the quality of reporting. It seems that in an effort to “stay on top” of the story and compete with the speed of social media, the standards of quality have dropped.

I have observed that not only are the facts sometimes wrong, but assumptions are often made by reporters, and opinions are also often included. (Which is kind of what I am doing right now. But I am allowed, since this is a blog.)

I disagree with this trend in traditional media, as it can wrongly influence readers by mis-informing them, or by not reporting the complete facts.

I say: “Bring back responsible journalism!”

Have you noticed this trend? Is the role of traditional journalists changing? Should it?

7 thoughts on “COM0011 – Assignment #1 – Is Social Media Negatively Affecting Responsible Journalism?

  1. Nice point you bring up!! I have found that responsible journalism has actually increased to a degree bringing a classic respect to it. With Social Media, the speed of the “next best thing” or trends, I find that it has actually reduced the gap with age. I think younger people are more interested in the latest news whereas when I was younger it was not a priority. The generation today is focused on speed, however the younger generation is also busier than before.

    Today, the source of responsible journalism uses Social Media as well and can bring the latest news to a variety of groups whereas in the past it was just a segment it was able to target.

  2. I agree that the level of quality in journalism has been impacted by social media. In my opinion, quality has become less important and that the priority is now being the first to break a story – with or without error.

    If you are even a few hours behind another media source when it comes to posting a story to social media, you’ve already missed out on your opportunity for huge engagement. Today’s journalists face an incredible amount of pressure. Now, that being said, I cringe every time I see that one of our on-air personalities or news anchors has posted something to Facebook with a simple spelling error (I work for two radio stations and an online news source)… I believe it hurts our credibility. Perhaps I’m just a 26-year old with a 50-year-old’s opinion on journalism.

    • Very true…I can understand – and appreciate – that today’s journalists face a great deal of pressure in order to remain on top. And at the speed that they have to produce, I am actually surprised that not more errors are made.

      I just wish that in earlier in the news cycle, when the news is breaking, that reporting would stick to facts rather than attempt to analyze or even influence opinion. Having worked in issues management in communications, I have seen too many stories turn negative solely on the opinion or angle taken by the first reporting journalist…an opinion often based on incomplete facts or assumptions.

      I think there is room for in-depth analysis, but I don’t see it mixing with speed…which social media has helped push.

  3. It’s an important point you bring up and one that has bothered me for a while. I’ve personally taken a stance of no longer following many reporters because I feel their content is too hollow. As Holly mentioned it’s become too important to be first, rather than right, and it’s quite troublesome.
    With journalism having been forced to change with these new mediums, I find that it has even affected the way we are presented news on television and radio. Personally, the change has led me to appreciate more in-depth reporting. I find I’d rather seek out a well researched story a few hours or days after an event than find out sporadic details as it occurs. Maybe, like Holly, I’m just a old-school 26-year old, but personally, traditional journalism will always have a place in my heart. It’s just how I find these stories that has changed.

    • I agree – the stories have changed! Mainstream media, it seems to me, are more interested in sensationalism and putting a twist on stories, only to be first!

      I, too, have come to appreciate in-depth pieces more.

  4. I do agree whole-heartedly. Being a graduate of a print journalism diploma in college and being thrust out into this new digital age of reporting, it kind of caught me off guard and was quite daunting at first. Landscapes have changed. Not only in journalism or media but in our individual lives as well. Maybe the issue with quality is what the reader or consumer is looking for. Time is speeding up for us. Everything faster. Everything now. Want. Want. Want. And in that sense, quality gets diminished by quantity. It’s no longer the take your time and do it right, but rather do it right the first time and on to the next one.

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