The advent of digital technology and the internet has brought about various changes in the journalism field. Journalism became more popular in the 1940s when radio was regarded as the most dominant medium for dissemination and reporting of news. This format of reporting became more popular during the WWII due to the live broadcasts that updated people on the unfolding stories. Television came to dominate after this era. Radio and television were deemed to create relatively quick updates compared to the print media. They also made it possible for the globalization of media coverage.
However, things have changed in the modern era. Several alternatives have come out, and this has shifted the consumption focus. Most people are obtaining their information from blogs, Twitter and Facebook among other social media platforms. At some point, you will people argue that they do not need to watch the news while they have Twitter. There is the assumption among some people that the important issues going around the country will “trend” as and when they happen. In case, a certain event or issue does not “trend” it is not regarded as being that important, so people do not feel as if they are being left out.
Another issue that is making traditional journalism struggle is the perception that people have about it. Most consumers do not view it as being populist. They think that there is some bias involved in the reporting. A good example comes along when the organizations that spend big money in terms of advertising with these media houses are involved with some undesirable activities. There is some form of conflict of interest that is developed since the media houses would not want to annoy their customer. This is likely to result in some form of bias where all the facts of the story are not reported. These organizations are here to make profits, and any action that might result in reduction of their profits is avoided.
The concept of being more populist has made social media a preferred option to traditional journalism among the masses. There is usually the belief that people bringing various stories to the limelight have the interest of the people at heart. This is because most of the issues that come along seem to be driven towards enlightenment. A good example is the “hashtags” that are normally used in social media platforms. Whenever there is something that is not going well, people use a certain “hashtag” to enable a conversation of the given issue. Many people start to contribute and become aware of the issue as a result. As the issue spreads and gains momentum, the individuals involved feel the fire and act accordingly. The strength that people accord social media was quite vivid during the Arab Spring. The wave of demonstrations, riots, protests and civil wars that occurred during this time had been aggravated by social media to some extent. This is because people have taken it as a way of absorbing information. Some of the information is not appropriate based on where it originates from, but some people care less. This is because they can resonate with these outlets to receive a populist support compared to the traditional media. Some countries had to shut down the internet during the Arab Spring due to the influence that it had during the period.
Another example that shows why people are more into social media than traditional journalism is an occurrence that happened in Jamaica in 2011. A press release from Jamaica’s CCN had indicated that a man attacking the police was shot and killed. After this reporting, a country’s citizen began to circulate a video footage that showed a different story. The man who was presumed to have attacked the police was writhing with pain while being beaten by the police. He was then shot and killed while lying on the ground, unarmed and subdued. This scenario was an indication that communication tools such as the internet and cell phones are bringing another level of access to information which is unprecedented. Different blogs and social platforms are now being regarded as “citizen journalism”, which are distinct from the traditional journalism.
However, despite these platforms having a better appeal and being more populist, there is something that they cannot have over traditional journalism. Traditional journalism is more professional. The nature of reporting that is done here cannot be compared to the haphazard nature of reporting that comes from social platforms. In traditional journalism, there is the concept of due diligence while conducting research. Reporters take their time before coming out with some issues due to their sensitive nature. The media outlets are aware of the consequences that might accrue due to misrepresentation of facts. On the other hand, most issues on social platforms come as a result of rumors. Facts that are not yet substantiated are presented authoritatively. Blogs are the major culprits with this issue since their developers want to drive as much traffic as possible. This results to feeding the masses with information that is not substantiated and is thus misleading. This is an indication that despite the traditional journalism struggling to reshape itself in the modern era; it will still retain a significant following due to its professionalism prospects.
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