With the development and widespread use of communication technologies and the internet, social media becomes an extremely influential source of information. For example, the events of the Arab Spring (2010-2012) were largely stimulated by social media since some participants in protests had high levels of Internet usage, which allowed them to share information, organize demonstrations, and raise public awareness (Rane and Salem 99). In addition, almost every organization creates accounts on social media to reach its target audience and spread information rapidly. In this connection, this paper aims to explore the potential of social media to replace traditional media, focusing on the perceptions of users, information credibility, journalists’ behaviors, and access to media. Social media is now being used to spread news, which has resulted in challenges in founded news organizations; the need for traditional media sources is currently being assessed.
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Growth in the presence of social media today has changed how journalists behave and the means of accessing information. Many organizations shift to an online environment as it provides them with various marketing opportunities. Companies become closer to customers by offering them to share their opinions about products and services through Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. The social media landscape allows learning more about brands and their mission, which leads to greater customer loyalty. It is mentioned that $1.54 billion was invested in supporting the presentation of organizations in social media, and this number was expected to triple by 2013 (Bruhn et al. 771). In 2019, this investment increased by $17 billion, and the expenditures will only grow in the future (Shin et al. 282)
Online journalism, it became a dominant direction of digital media, which delivers easily accessible and free information. It should be emphasized that the way customers read news changes, and the environment in which they are created tend to be different. Journalists increasingly use social media to express their opinions, which promotes discussions of various topics. One more issue that attracts viewers is the ability to return to the previously mentioned topics, thus ensuring that newsreaders remain engaged (Laor and Galily 7). Also, feedback from people, which is provided through comments or direct interaction, motivates journalists to continue their work in public awareness increase.
The downside of online posts is the key disadvantage of digital media as such promotional work does not pass any trustworthiness standards. Compared to traditional media that governments and businesses mainly control, online media raises concerns about how people can trust it. However, even though the quality of data is not yet currently guaranteed, it is possible to expect that social media sources would improve in the future.
In addition, the advancements of 21st-century technology made it possible to access a wide variety of information by clicking only several buttons on one’s computer or smartphone. People get used to receiving the information they need quickly, which seems to be convenient and easy. Compared to traditional media which requires buying a magazine or watching TV, social media offers more comfortable options. The reading times become shorter as online resources provide brief news, understanding the desires of customers. All this leads to the growing consumption of online news instead of traditional media. It is reported that 68% of Americans get some of their news on social media in 2018 (Shu et al. 182). A characteristic feature of social media is that users compose networks to share their interests or learn about some issues, creating certain environments and movements.
Quick access to information is achieved at the expense of its reliability. The concept of fake news comprises some diverse phenomena in the media environment, such as fake texts and photo recordings. Fake accounts are artificially created at the customers’ request, “likes,” and posting approving comments can be noted (Shu et al. 183). Considering news journalism as a journalistic genre, one can confidently state that fake news is extensively present. Nevertheless, some measures are already taken to increase the reliability of online news. Facebook decided to involve journalists in resolving the problem (Shu et al. 186). The company will work with newsrooms and organize a campaign to distinguish between real and fake news.
Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook and the current technology are rapidly changing, and many organizations, including the news media, are unable to keep up with its pace. In the traditional world, news organizations focused on simply delivering information, but the methods now are transforming. The audience of the current world expects that the availability of information is not enough. They want to choose what to read, and most of them expect a chance to add content and opinions (Bergström and Belfrage 593). The social media revolution is the birth of democracy that stresses important factors of journalism, including transparency and honesty. Media channels state how social media seriously impact news organizations and their way of operation.
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News organizations are now forced to make use of social media for them to retain their audiences and also so that they keep fetching funds for supporting themselves. Research reveals that the current audience lost confidence in news organizations; they do not believe that they aim to report accurate, neutral news, especially in politics, the way they used to do some time back (Shin et al. 280). Survey also reveals that youngsters resent using traditional media and that people need a change in terms of newspapers that requires payment before accessing print magazines online. In the contemporary world, people require a communication affair that was not available in traditional news organizations; there was a shift from one-way communication. This shift aims at assisting journalists to effectively perform their responsibilities. Social media has also empowered individuals to voice their concerns to the world and has forced established news media to change irrespective of whether the industry desires the change or not. The problem with social media is that bloggers have a habit of reporting their interests instead of what is required; this has a possibility of bad investigative journalism.
The importance of Facebook and Twitter as social media tools is greatly increasing due to the ability of people to create their applications. The tools have enabled journalists and the public to communicate occurrences faster than in the past despite the possibility of some errors. In reporting serious events occurring using social media tools, there may be an absence of many witnesses reporting as required since there is fear that the people will be thought to have participated in the events. Making use of social media tools requires first assessing ethical implications. News organizations have to come up with ethical guidelines for the workforce and web participants. News organizations are required to shift toward progressively using mobile devices and reporters to be autonomous instead of being connected to exact news organizations for long. From all this, it is evident that social media is replacing traditional sources in this current world.
The audience today still needs the use of traditional media sources because of some reasons. Traditional sources like newspapers are well known for reporting breaking news and exposing historic proportions. The readers, therefore, require this source to get access to this information since, many times, it is not available on social media for various reasons, including its sensitivity and lack of discovery. Television remains the main news source in the current world, even though youths categorize the internet as more necessary than television. The younger generation has no patience, so they opt for speedy information over the internet. Those who are patient tend to get full, reliable, and well-elaborated information from the television (McGrew et al. 4). This justifies the need for traditional news sources in the current world. The reason for television remaining to be a dominant source is that those who publish the news are known to the people. Traditional news sources also comprise influential people who are keen to admit their mistakes to protect their public image and reputation.
Local news organizations reveal that many people still use traditional sources and do not bother themselves to gather information online; newspapers have been proven to remain the common media channel. This clearly explains the need for traditional news sources; doing away with them will mean that many people are inconvenienced (Aruguete 37). Putting into consideration the needs and interests of these people, traditional sources have to remain operational. Even though they are faced with more challenges, they should admit that they still have their loyal audience and, therefore, should focus on how they can best meet their needs.
It can be concluded that social media provides such benefits as rapid and convenient access to information, creating networks, interacting with others, and promoting public awareness. However, compared to traditional media, it lacks reliability and credibility, while an overabundance of fake news becomes a striking feature of digital media. Social media is an important tool in creating social networks as journalists can communicate and collaborate with the audience. The community can be built through social engagement and facilitates a two-way form of communication; this has been the main reason people prefer using social media regularly. Traditional media sources should incorporate their operations with social media for them to remain effective. Social media will continually alter the way journalists collect and relay news, but the traditional ways will still be needed for verification of facts. Professional journalists of the future will have to disseminate truth; Twitter is known for displaying current happenings.
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