It’s hard for many old-timers to accept, but social media is subsuming print media (not the other way around), including in our neck of the woods.
The latest global example: BBC news journalists have been told to use social media as a primary source of information by the new director of BBC Global News who took over last week.
“This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology. I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary”, the new executive, Peter Horrocks, said in The Guardian. The article is here.
For CNN integrating social media has improved their reporting and got them closer to their sources, as seen with the coverage of the Haiti earthquake, according to The Guardian. The uprising in Egypt this week, which included first-hand accounts on social media, is another example.
Aggregating social media content with attribution should become part of a BBC journalist’s assignment, Horrocks said.
This blog regularly goes to social media for attributed reporting in the foothills — finding out about a petition opposed to the Hospitality House on SAMBA soccer’s Facebook page, for example, or getting the first report that Nevada City bought Sugarloaf Mountain from Reinette Senum’s Facebook page. The details are here and here.
To be sure, you need to check out your facts: Some of the social-media or blog content is trivial and inaccurate — just as it can be in the mainstream media or a “source” on the street, I might add.
But in many cases, you can find “diamonds in the rough.” The examples I’m citing (Hospitality House and SugarLoaf, for example) are cases of straight-forward reporting of information, not opinions, that you can find on Facebook, Twitter or blogs.
Other examples include the “scoops” on this blog, which appear in the local newspaper only after they are handed a press release a week later. The mainstream media is having a hard time accepting they are not the only news “source.”
Not just readers but investors are noticing this trend. “Facebook, which is filled with a growing abundance of user-generated content, is considered by its investors to be 83 times more valuable than McClatchy, which employs hundreds, if not thousands, of journalists,” as the media blog Newsosaur observed this week.
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