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?