Social media and journalism

Social media began in the 17th century with the dissemination of cheap news pamphlets that informed readers of the news of the week. Gradually newspapers came into circulation and by the late 18th century daily papers reported on all types of news. The evolution of journalism had begun. The press took into consideration its readers and introduced methods of interaction such as comments and letters from readers pages.

 

Introduction of the internet meant a new age for journalism. Producing and sharing media became significantly easier and for the first time ever, journalists are able to upload content in real time. In addition to this, social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook inform and link readers to other news content which enables wider audiences than newspapers could ever reach.

 

Social media has also enabled peaceful yet powerful public protest. Recent protesters in Egypt turned to Facebook to organise marches. Within three weeks the Egyptian government shut down internet access in an effort to stop protest. However, this failed as protesters increased flows of information through mobile networks that could still access Facebook. Developments where then picked up by news stations and reported by satellite television.

 

The problem with citizen journalism, is that information is being reported by people with little journalistic experience. Often, online sources are unreliable and in some cases news stories are complete hoaxes. However, journalists are aware of the way in which social media is altering news content. Because of this the way in which journalists approach news has changed. It is safe to say that professional journalism will always be important. Journalism is evolving alongside social media, making use of its assets and strengthening public knowledge as it does.