Is social media journalism because it reports the news or because it spreads information? Locally, the Social Media Club of Sacramento will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday August 14, 2012 with the Sacramento chapter of the Public Relations Society of America to present a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. on the topic of the effects of social media on journalism at the Urban Hive, 1913 H Street, in Sacramento.
The two hour event is live. But if you can’t attend the panel’s presentation in person, then watch it live online as it will be streaming the event on ustream, beginning at 7 p.m.
How has social media changed journalism since the Internet went public? Think about how social media has changed the job market for journalism graduates and for people reading the latest news online instead of waiting for the following morning to buy a print newspaper.
Who defines what social media is?
Social media, according to the Wikipedia site, is defined as interactive dialogue online. The site notes that social media “includes web- and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals.”
Journalism is defined as a collection and editing of news for presentation through the media. Social media may be news, but often it’s not edited unless someone protests that the words are abusive. And social media often isn’t only news. It can be personal information or entertainment content, even virtual game playing. Social media used to make friends is personal and not defined as journalism.
Various experts in the field of media or social sciences have different definitions of social media. But is all social media defined as journalism? Is social media more like news via the public grape vine of here say? Or would you say social media presents evidence that can be fact-checked as being credible, provable, and validated? Who has the right to censor social media in the same way that journalism is censored by publishers?
If you refer back to the Wikipedia site, Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” When the technologies are in place, social media is ubiquitously accessible, and enabled by scalable. You can check out this 2009 original source as an online PDF file, “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media.” Business Horizons 53(1): 59–68.
Social media is used by many top business executives. The question is how is it used other than advertising. Is it truly journalism if it reports the news without opinion? Social media is both opinion and advertising as well as reporting the news, but often doesn’t give sources or have the space to add footnotes as to where the sources of information originate unless there’s space to provide links to original sources.
Yet decision makers make money selling the ways various businesses or experts can profit from the applications (apps) that come out of social media. After all, social media is responsible for Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, Second Life, and other social media sites that also feature advertising to create revenue for various businesses.
There’s money to be made in media that aren’t being made in print publications such as magazines and newspapers that languish on library shelves. You have medical journals online, but most of the information is not free to readers as if social media were a global free public lending library.
Even books check out of the library as e-books disappear after a few weeks of time you have to read them. You can’t download them for free and keep them to pass on to future generations. The end result of social media is to make money with content and information.
In one way, social media is journalism. But most people don’t really define social media in the exact same way. Social media is not only user-generated content and citizen journalism. There’s the problem of user-generated content earning reader respect.
The words of average people may not be accepted as evidence
If the journalism isn’t respected, often it’s social media. If reporting is respected, it’s journalism. And writers of social media who are not paid are not really respected in the same way that a byline with a print newspaper or TV station earns a journalist earning a salary high enough to pay the rent or mortgage. People believe experts and leaders more than they believe the social media content of average people without knowing their credentials and achievements or expertise in one area.
Social media groups into blogs and networking sites that need to earn credibility
Social media groups into blogs, social networking sites, virtual game worlds, and virtual social worlds. It’s being used as escape and entertainment as well as tabloid news by some people.
Yet there are content communities that receive articles from actual journalists with degrees. The reason many write for the content communities, often unpaid or paid less than print journalism reporters on daily newspapers is because there are too many journalism graduates and too few jobs.
And those who have not found jobs on print papers that have merged or gone under may be turning to digital journalism. In the end, companies do use social media to make money through advertising. Often what attracts people to watch the advertising is the utilization of journalists labor as content producers, but paid at rates far lower than when only print journalism and book publishing companies existed and hired new graduates with degrees in communications, English, and journalism.
You have only to look at the demise of many bookstores and the increasing sales of E-books and tablets. Nowadays, when sometimes paper books not selling are recycled to be turned into toilet paper and other materials, the content itself becomes an E-book, selling for a few dollars instead of the $20 or $30 that it cost to publish paper books that weren’t selling up to the publisher’s quota called the ‘midlist’.
Social media is vital to advertising, but it also spreads the news, which is a form of journalism without the type of censors employed by many mainstream media content outlets, whether broadcast or print. A generation ago if you lived in a rural area, it often took until the next day to receive your newspaper delivery, whereas the folks living in urban areas got their newspapers first. Today, you can read news online as it happens.
When it comes to social media, a generation of younger people get their journalism information such as the news on the Internet as the older generations watch TV. Where does that leave journalism, particularly digital journalism? Check out the streaming panel presentation and find out where social media stands in the world of journalism, public relations, and how it’s supported by advertising.