Social Media Evolving Journalism

Social Media Evolving Journalism

It’s no secret that as the Internet and social media have taken off, print publications and newspapers have seen a steep decline in circulation, readership, and revenue. Just a little over a month ago, the Newspaper Association of America released its estimates for advertising revenue across the newspaper industry finding a 27.2% decrease in advertising revenue from $37.848 billion in 2008 to $27.564 billion in 2009. Going back even further, however, Ben Parr notes that in 2000, newspapers peaked at $48.67 billion in revenue, but in just the past four years, newspaper ad revenue has dropped an astounding 44.24%.

Despite these depressing statistics, journalism isn’t dead, it’s just evolving, and those who are embracing the online space and social media are at the top of the survival chain. Specifically, those familiar with data visualization, incorporating intelligently designed graphics, charts, pictures, and videos will rise to the top. As readers become increasingly comfortable with the short snippets of information that social media has mastered, it will become all the more important for newspapers and publications to incorporate the same kind of style – keeping attention grabbing headlines short and sweet with important facts called out in bullets or boxes while integrating plenty of multi-media to keep readers on their site, clicking around for more content.

Jeff Beer’s recent article demonstrates other ways new digital tools and social media capabilities are changing the media landscape. He notes that social media tools aren’t diminishing the importance of journalists and journalism as a whole, but, rather, they are bolstering the quality of the content. Twitter is giving journalists a real-time look into the thoughts and opinions of people on current events and trending issues.

Finding sources and gauging public opinion are two great uses of social media tools; however do these tactics influence the news too much and prevent journalists from getting at the straight facts? Blogging and social media have essentially given everyone the ability to publish. So, journalists, in order to stay above the general ability of the public, will need to better source their information and develop interesting angles, as only they, as experts, can.

What other ways do you see social media transforming journalism or helping it evolve?

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2 thoughts on “Social Media Evolving Journalism

  1. Hi Meredith,

    Journalism has a future but like all Traditional Media is rapidly changing.

    The future of Journalism was a panel discussion at SXSW this past March in which I attended. The debate was whether traditional media needs to put their stamp on news in order to add credibility. I think that is a bunch of BS.

    Traditional media is trying to claim only news curated by them is credible to protect their dying revenue stream. Nothing more nothing less. I believe in the power of the crowd and their ability to quickly weed out fake stories. Social media provides great transparency.

    The rise of social media has led to many breaking stories led by citizen journalists. Where “official” Journalists can add their value is by providing quality content/insight around those stories to provide more in-depth coverage.

    What do you think?

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your comment; I completely agree. Social media has great power to show the truth – even in real time, like during presentations, though the backchannel (http://bit.ly/cX2Sjo).

    In my opinion, the advantage journalists bring to news reporting is their expertise on specific subjects and industries. With social media, people write about things as they are happening often with no insight into the history of the industry or topic. Journalists, through their years of reporting and monitoring certain areas, can bring new insight to current developments.

    It will be interesting to see the use of social media as a source in traditional reporting and how it evolves journalism over the next few years.

    I heard there were some great discussions that came out of this year’s SXSW event – did you enjoy it?

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