media and journalism
Aug 16, 2016 — TrackFive

Breaking Broadcast: Trustworthy Social Media?

Facebook recently announced that its trending topics section displayed political bias due to employee curation. This reminds us of just how distinctly news has shifted with the rise of social media.

With more people on mobile devices and the Internet, social media is changing how we consume and interact with new information, as well as with news brands.

Breaking Broadcast: Trustworthy Social Media?

In the last decade, we’ve seen so many significant changes to electronic media that it’s hard to grasp. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have altered our access to everything from world events and political campaigns, to social injustices.

Now the consumer’s standpoint in the media has changed. This means business models for traditional media sources can only continue to adapt their efforts in the face of digital platforms and even things like an algorithmic topic generation.

Questions arise like:

“Will people ever trust traditional media sources again?”

“Who still pays for the news?”

“How do we know which sources are ethical in a digital landscape?”

Think about it, between Hilary Clinton’s email controversy and Donald Trump’s concerns over his public image as portrayed by the “crooked media,” we’re living in a world where people are forming their worldviews and political preferences based on the topics they discover via social media.

A recent report from The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism provided an overview of the effect this shift has had on news consumption around the world.

Of the 26 countries surveyed, the report found that 51% of people say they use social media for news each week. One in ten said it was their main source of information.

Facebook was the most important network for finding, consuming, and sharing topics – particularly for women and people ages 18-24.

Yet, despite much more frequent consumption of news through social media, recognition of those brands decreased, especially in the UK, Canada, Japan, and South Korea.

This presents a range of problems for traditional brick and mortar news agencies and their affiliates: mobile accessibility, the algorithmic selection of topics, and ad-blockers are causing major upsets in already deteriorating business models.

A Challenging Future of News Media

Although they are incredibly convenient, ad-blockers have become the bane of many news agencies’ profits. Notably, monetizing audiences online remains an issue for digital-born companies like BuzzFeed and Mashable. These blockers have since caused missed revenue targets and staff layoffs.

Combined with the growing popularity of automated journalism, audiences are gaining more power over which news sources they choose. Whether it’s out of convenience, preference, or the collective curating efforts of peers, the news is forming to the reality social media has presented us with.

The study from Reuters provided some interesting considerations:

  • 36% of people surveyed reported they preferred news to be preselected based on what they’ve read before.
  • 30% said they trusted the judgment of editors or journalists.
  • 22% felt comfortable with seeing topics based on what their friends had consumed.

Being presented with topics you’d seek out otherwise is convenient. However, many are still concerned over whether automated news feeds present a darker scenario. Could this mean homogenous news consumption and planned manipulation (see the first sentence of this post)?

Will the shift to online audience drive healthy competition in the world of journalism? If so, at what ethical cost?

Looking at data from the countries surveyed, it was found that new formats such as live pages (15%), Listicles (13%), picture stories (20%), and infographics (8%) are preferred due to their social media compatibility.

For people under 35, video formats via platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are at the nucleus of news consumption for the first time.

If these trends continue, social media could eventually drop half of its name to become the main source of news in countries all over the world.

Share This Article

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

TrackFive Team Members

Let's Chat

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.