Header Image Credit: Carlos Mejia. Check out his IG @carlitos_mejia_
In today’s digital landscape, we receive the majority of our news via social media, whether it’s hot political topics like North Korea missile launches over Japan or something mainstream like Apple’s iPhone 8 and X announcements. Digital technology has dramatically reshaped the news and media industries in the past decade. We’ve left behind a world where established news brands could rely on reaching large audiences and secure advertising revenues. Currently, there is huge uncertainty about business models, even as digital delivery gives consumers more convenient access to news than ever before and which is being delivered in many creative ways. The emergence of new players including BuzzFeed and Junkee and it’s newer child, Punkee, and not to forget our very own website, Straddl, coupled with the growth of social networking, the growing popularity of smartphones and the changing form of online advertising have contributed to a media landscape that is changing at a rapid pace. It’s not surprising to learn that the newspaper industry is in structural decline but, it is not dead, it is not dying and it will never cease to exist. Print media is dying, but digital media might be its saviour. This doesn’t mean you should stop supporting the future of journalism. Although the newspaper business is not as booming as it once was, its shortcomings have forced journalists to think outside of the box and find new ways to inform and captivate audiences. This is an opportunity for young journalists to get creative with technology and take advantage of everything that it has to offer. We know customers are already paying hundreds of dollars a month for broadband, phone plans and their various digital devices. We know big news organisations are diving into the world of social media, looking at its extraordinary newsgathering potential, its potential as a tool to engage the audience and as a way of distributing the news. But amidst all the clickbaits and fake news, how can people access journalism without sacrificing authenticity and transparency?
According to an American Pew Research Centre survey, it was reported 67 percent of American adults somewhat rely on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat for news compared with 62 percent in 2016.
“67 percent of American adults somewhat rely on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat for news”
Twitter is great for tweeting breaking news so people can see it instantly. The news world operates 24/7 and is constant, therefore Twitter caters perfectly to that constant nature. You can open up Snapchat and news outlets will have their own Snapchat with different stories that they have curated and produced specifically for people on Snapchat. They keep people interested because of their interactiveness and visual nature.
Now consider Facebook. Facebook is no longer a social network. Not on numbers and not on its influence. Facebook has become your personal search engine. It finds what you like and then delivers you more of it. It’s a digital bubble and the more time you spend there the better their algorithms get. Their algorithms will dictate how you think if you let them. Not to spook you out and get you thinking, “Is this the Matrix?”
To put it into perspective, Facebook had over one billion daily active users in 2016. In July this year, Facebook reported their standalone app, Messenger, now has more than 1.2 billion monthly users. Furthermore, Facebook stated in February this year that 400 million people use voice and video calling on Messenger every month, and 1 billion messages are sent between people and businesses every month.
“1 billion messages are sent between people and businesses every month.”
So what does this suggest? We know Facebook’s timeline is like a newspaper but the amount of content is endless. All you have to do is scroll for another story. The ironic part is a lot of the information is constant and constrained and probably very similar. We are inundated with information that we have already read. But how do we find the interesting news about things that we do not yet know about? It’s cool that you can ‘Like’ a news organisation’s page and see the content they post but not every single one will interest us. Arguably, we no longer need more news. We need less. We need carefully curated interesting news.
Facebook’s timeline is great but the more time you spend on it, the deeper you fall into endless, useless content. We can’t stop fake news from being made but we can stop sharing it. Imagine if you could subscribe and pay for news from a few sources directly in Facebook. Then it is delivered to you nicely through Messenger without the need to find it in your timeline or in your timeline if that’s how you prefer your information delivered.
So I ask you, are you actively choosing where your news is coming from? How can we ensure that people can access quality journalism content that will inform us on what is happening in the world of today.
On final thoughts, what does future generations’ reliance on social media for news might mean for the future of journalism?
By Bradley Jardine