Bob Dylan once sang “The times they are a changing.” A lyric that couldn’t be more correct about the future of Journalism and it’s all down to one thing.
Social media is now the societal choice for obtaining one’s news. Using algorithms, sites like Facebook can filter the news the specific way you want to see it. Becoming your own gatekeeper has its perks. You can see the news you want from whatever format you want. CNN, for example, can reach its audience members via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Line, Messenger and Apple News to name a few. But these sites use “Echo Chambers” or “Filter Bubbles” to filter ‘news’. According to Simon de Bruxelles of The Times – “The news on Facebook is what Facebook says it is.” And with the overcrowding of news, the argument of over cluttering against reaching audiences easier is raised.
Take Facebook, who hired a former NBC news correspondent to head their news partnership team. The creation of this role states their intent – to change themselves from a way of communicating with friends into a news medium powerhouse. Its first steps towards this were the introduction of Facebook Live. This new feature allows users to stream live video and, with enough views, can go viral. This has been used to good effect by news outlets like the BBC but it mostly gives way to an increase in citizen journalism. Citizen journalists are much better at breaking news and many outlets rely on them at times. The Ian Tomlinson death was filmed on a phone by a New York banker. Citizen journalists can and have cost many jobs for journalists as outlets opt to use the public as their reporters.
Facebook’s code of ethics differs from journalists. Graphic content can be uploaded to social media, some of which would never make the news. The “Kony 2012” documentary was “the most viral moment ever” according to TIME magazine. This documentary had massive ethical implications and angered many traditionalists. Ethics can also be misconstrued in terms of Contempt of Court. The Joanne Fraill case highlights the dangers social media poses to court reporting and ethical journalism. With the rise of social networking sites, so does the likelihood of Jigsaw Identification with users easily posting images and accessing accounts.
Social media has caused a shift in society with figures like Donald Trump becoming a more trusted source of information than news outlets. Fake news being distributed by the likes of Trump, who then himself claims reporters are creating false content.
We all depend on our media environment to give us a roughly accurate view of the world around us. The proliferation of news, losses of jobs and unethical practices have meant the only way we can save traditional journalism is if we log off and stay off.