I remember my grandparents sitting at the breakfast table, reading the morning newspaper over buttered toast and orange juice. My grandma would take the Entertainment section and the crossword puzzle, while my grandfather read through Business and Sports.
Today they just scroll through their iPad for stories.
I remember eating dinner with the 6 o’clock news playing in the background as a child, learning about car accidents and murders while eating chicken fingers with my family. The 6 p.m. news program was how my parents could learn about current events, so watching the 6 o’clock news became a daily family ritual.
Today, I stay informed by watching Trending Topics on Facebook and Twitter, and tune in for live events (like Trump’s inauguration) on Facebook Live.
I also remember road trips where my father would flick to the a.m. radio station to hear traffic updates, making us all hush to hear the report over the sound of cars whizzing by.
Now my dad just checks off his “Avoid Traffic” filter on the GPS and away we go!
I honestly do not remember the last time I watched television news (thanks to Netflix, I don’t even have satellite or cable anymore), picked up a newspaper or magazine, or heard a.m. radio news (my boyfriend streams Spotify playlists through Bluetooth). However, I don’t feel uninformed. On the contrary, I feel more informed than ever before.
This is because news is now convenient. I don’t have to race through the local newspaper before work in the morning or enjoy a family dinner with the TV on discussing gruesome facts, I don’t need to purchase a magazine at the drugstore to read the latest celebrity gossip or tune into the radio before a road trip to discover which roads to avoid. News and information is more convenient now! I can discover news stories throughout the day on my feed and “save” them to explore further at a time that suits my schedule.
Jessica Thom explores this topic in her doctoral dissertation Believing the News: Exploring How Young Canadians Make Decisions About Their News Consumption. In an interview with Ryerson Journalism, Jessica explained that she studied participants ranging from 18 to 29 years of age to find out how they consume news. Through her study, Jessica discovered that while young Canadians would discover news through social media, they would not stop their research at just clickbait headlines.
“They’re really getting kind of the bite-sized pieces of news from their social media”
– Jessica Thom.
“They’re really getting kind of the bite-sized pieces of news from their social media, and then they either click on that article or they search that title and they find out more information through search engines,” Jessica told Ryerson Journalism. She added that social media was viewed as a way to “funnel important or interesting news” and then the participant would do further research about that topic on the sites of trusted news sources.
This study is very reflective of how I digest the news. I often spot a Trending Topic on Twitter, read through tweets about this topic to discover why it is popular, and then – if I am still curious – I continue my research elsewhere.
I do, however, see the cons in this news consumption method:
- Our news is funneled through social media, which has an algorithm to highlight the topics we may be interested in the most.
- We are only following up on news items from our feed that we are curious about, as opposed to sticking through an entire news program.
- If we do not do further research, we are at risk of believing fake news.
However, as a graduate of a journalism program, there are flaws with using mainstream media as your only news source as well. As opposed to all of your social media networks funneling your news, you are relying on one TV network program choosing which stories are worth watching– with the pressure of selling commercial ad space and competing with other networks. This is true with newspapers as well; you are reading selected news items researched and written by overworked reporters and edited by someone under the pressure of keeping newspaper subscriptions and ad prices up in a dying industry.
In my opinion, no source is perfect, so do your research. But as an avid social media user, I feel more informed than I did following traditional mainstream media. I am getting my news from a variety of sources and making my own judgements, instead of being fed the news from one medium.
Do you feel social media is a good place to discover news stories or do the headlines just help with watercooler talk at work?
— Social media posts —
Facebook: I remember eating dinner with the 6 o’clock news playing in the background as a child, learning about car accidents and murders while eating chicken fingers with my family. Today, I stay informed by watching Trending Topics on Facebook and Twitter, and tune in for live events (like Trump’s inauguration) on Facebook Live. How do you consume the news? Read my latest blog post, “Social media as news source?” here: https://goo.gl/OuZbEJ
Twitter: Have you heard the #news? Young Canadians are discovering news items on #socialmedia, but is this a trusted source? https://goo.gl/OuZbEJ