In an age of instantaneous information, we are increasingly dependent on social media to get the latest news and trends that shape our culture.
The way we get our news matters. What we hear about current events can reshape our philosophies, and sometimes brings about huge changes at the highest levels of society. Freedom of information has long stood as a cornerstone of democracy, crucial in facilitating constructive discourse and protecting the basic human right of personal expression.
That being said, news is also big business. For most of human history, major broadcasting corporations and newspapers have dictated the flow and distribution of information and knowledge across the globe. As a result, a select few have controlled and filtered how we understand and therefore experience the world on a day-to-day basis.
But the reign of the mighty news conglomerate may be at an end. Today, the internet and the increasing availability of smartphones have generated a new avenue for distributing information.
Power to the People
The idea of citizen journalism is by no means new. The public has arguably been playing an active role in the collection and dissemination of news since the beginnings of journalism itself. Still, the age of the internet has vastly expanded the scale and impact of citizen journalism.
Social media sites have infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives, and we increasingly look to them as a source of news and information on matters that are both local and global.
As a result, these platforms have a rare potential to put the news back in the hands of the individual. It’s now possible for a cell phone video or blog post to go viral in a matter of minutes, allowing people to have conversations on a global level and participate in social evolution from the comfort of their bedrooms.
Perhaps most importantly, citizen journalism delivers the news in a raw, unfiltered, and instantaneous form. The individual isn’t subject to the bureaucracy, censorship, or political backlash that constrains major news organizations and public figures from telling the whole story.
Social Media Matters
Social media is being recognized across the board as an integral part of the current journalism landscape. Considering the fact that a recent Pew poll found over 30% of adults in the U.S. get their news on sites like Facebook, it seems plausible that social media’s role in the world of news and information will only intensify.
As a result, a number of journalism schools are now incorporating social media as a an element of their curriculums. As dean of the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University Lorraine Branham explains to Digital Trends, “We teach our students how to utilize social media, how to use Facebook to gather information, how to get sources, how to tweet information out.”
But in reality, it doesn’t really take a journalism degree to report the news anymore. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have democratized the information industry, making it possible for any citizen to create their own brand and publish content to a global readership. If you want your voice to be heard, all you really have to do is get out there and start typing — or get someone else typing for you.
Longneck and Thunderfoot offer brand publishing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that drives visibility and influence in your market. Learn more about brand publishing here.
(Main image credit: Garry Knight/flickr)