Journalism in the social media era has seen its share of highs and devastating lows. The game has changed but the story remains the same. So why is journalism struggling in the age of social media?
Through out the election and currently during the first couple of weeks Donald Trump’s presidency, people have questioned the credibility and integrity of journalism. I think people are disingenuous here because the real problem here is that it is harder more than ever to know what real news is. Fake news headlines and digital advocacy advertisements with alternative facts dominate and pop up on every Twitter feed or Facebook timeline. Now, this isn’t a blame game. You really can’t filter or control what is put out there but as journalists we may have allowed this problem to get worse.
There was a recent incident were a journalist picked up a story from a twitter post about a shooting at a mosque that claimed to expose two white supremacists as the shooters. It ran on the Daily Beast soon after. Little known to the writer, the names he picked up were from a parody twitter account. This is just one of many similar stories of fake news being reported as real news.
Now, sure mistakes happen but when journalists and news media are supposed to be reliable sources, we cannot afford to make these mistakes. Yes, social media has allowed us update constantly and live stream from anywhere in the world. We are forgetting one of the crucial things about reporting and that is fact checking. No matter how interesting the narrative of a story is, we need the truth first and foremost.
If we are to survive in the digital age of social media, we have to be fast but we also have to be right. Now and days, journalists are fighting an uphill battle. People get their news from Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps. When alternative facts reign supreme, we cannot get lost. As journalists, it is important to maintain our integrity. We have been given a great tool, no longer are we relying on print to reach and audience, they are only a tweet away.
Journalism is at a crossroads right now, adapt or disappear. In her blog post, journalist Alison Gow said "Social media platforms like Facebook are only going to become more sophisticated; we’ve got to be equally committed to bettering what we do, to be able to use their systems to deliver our content, and talk, and listen, to the audience more than ever."
I agree very much with her message. As journalists we have to find a better way to deliver quality and engage our audience. While the industry is scrambling to find a solution that may not be too hard to find, is to rely on our tried and true fundamentals.