Social media: the new frontier of journalism

With the exponentially accelerating advancement of technology nowadays, journalism is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic and exciting professions to be working in. Journalists have always depended on sources and tips for stories. But an unprecedented amount of new information and potential sources have become accessible with the emergence of social media.

One of the developments Dan Gillmor, author of We the Media, validates is the need for what some may call “backpack journalists”. The surge of citizen journalism emerging through social media has challenged the professional journalism industry to “transcend the desktop,” as Gilmor puts it, and actually take advantage of every feature our devices have to offer. It’s not necessarily that every person employed by a news organization has to be a trained videographer, but instead simply needs to have an eye for anything they come across in everyday life that may resemble news. Whether it’s in the form of video, audio, or photographs, mobile phones and tablets afford individuals the chance to capture the spontaneous and the unfrequented.

Gillmor also touches on how linking can add depth to stories. Not only does sourcing add authority to a piece by revealing where information was obtained, but also works in the best interest of the reader by directing them to material that provides greater context (e.g. transcripts or data) and perhaps even encouraging them to dig deeper on their own.

If this were a one way street, I might end this post by saying, “Now go grab your phone, get out there and find some news” and leave it at that. But, of course, social media has also fostered a robust dialogue between journalist and audience to offer feedback and new ideas. So, help me out here readers. What are some prime examples you’ve seen of social media’s impact on journalism? What are your thoughts on the benefits and drawbacks of this? Comment with your opinion, reflect on your experiences, maybe even share a link or two!

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