Social Media empowers Citizen Journalism

After my last article about the role of social media in journalism I received an email through a friend from a journalism lecturer who shared this TED video with me. The video is a great description of a new layer of journalism that social media has empowered. A form of journalism that places the knowledge of the crowd into the hands of responsible reporters. This is a great example of how people can use technology in a small way to make a big difference. If enough people were to capture, record and share the happenings of a controversial event then it would be possible to bring accountability into the situation again. Another example of how transparent our world is becoming and how shared information can be filtered through social networks to generate information from events that have already passed. The question that sits in the back of my mind is “could a skilled social media journalist be digging deep into the social media archives of your business?”

How social media is changing the role of journalism

In their latest book Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, these two men explore the new role of journalism that has been created due to the way that people aggregate news today. Social media has opened up a world where peers and colleagues decide what news is valuable and important. Articles that are shared most by your friends on Facebook show up in your Facebook news feed and Google+ highlights search content in Google that has been shared by your Google circles. Most social networks use this algorithm to highlight news. The higher the ‘share’ volume the more popular the article and the more exposure it gets on the networks. The problem is that these articles may be popular but they are not necessarily providing verified facts about the news subject. Twitter has gone a long way with their new Twitter iPhone app by identifying trends in the most tweeted keywords and then linking that trend (or news item) to a reputable news source like CNN or BBC. This bridges the gap by highlighting the most ‘shared’ content on twitter and providing the best, most reputable source of news available. Two thumbs up to Twitter. Aside from the steps Twitter has taken, most networks have become aggregators of popular content instead of good, reliable and verified journalistic content. This presents two scenarios that need to be addressed: 1) News readers need to learn how to apply journalist type skills in...

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