Friday, October 10, 2014

Opinion: Social media, has it increased the quality of news and information or decreased it?

     I believe social media has increased the quality and quantity of news content. It has allowed citizen journalists to present content to people all across the world. Social media' news is even more critical in countries where the freedom of press is denied. Countries like China; that frequently suppress the free press, means that our only look into the day to day events of these countries is through the content that social media reporters provide. A recent example of this is the protest for a democratically elected governor of Hong Kong. The Chinese state media refuses to report the protests to the rest of the world. The youth of Hong Kong, consisting mainly of post secondary students have been broadcasting the protests to the world using YouTube, twitter and Facebook as their news channels. This stream of content from young people across the city has provided a raw, unedited look at how protesters are treated in China and also provides contrast at the lack of coverage from China's state run news organizations. If social media, powered by the internet, didn't exist, I believe the protests would not have grown to such a large size and strongly believe that the rest of the world would not have known about them.

     Although I believe that the overall quality of news has been improved by social media, due to the fact that individuals can communicate their first hand account of what they witness, this doesn't mean that all social media news outlets provide quality, fact checked information. In fact a recent survey based study done by ING, that polled an international group of journalists and PR professionals, has shown that one third of journalists do not believe that social media provides a reliable source of information (ING Group, 2014). Although, despite this fact, over half of the journalists polled said social media was their main source of information (ING Group, 2014). What can be said about this seemingly contradictory piece of data? This writer's opinion is that even though professional journalists can't attest to the quality of content found on social media they still have to use it to remain relevant. If journalists admitted that social media is creating quality news content this would cause their news organizations to lose readers. Readers would instead look to social media for their news content.

 References: ING Group,, "2014 Study impact of Social Media on News: more crowd-checking, less fact-checking", ING Group, 19 June 2014,, 10/10/2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Q: What is your perception of social media, do you think it is a fad or the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?

I don't think social media is a fad. I believe it is here to stay but to say it is the biggest shift since the industrial revolution is taking it a bit far. Social media is an extremely convenient way to stay in touch with a large number of people. In fact social media makes this task very easy, think about how you would communicate with twenty of your friends in just one day without the use of social media. For most people I think that would be challenging.

Personally I believe that the introduction of the internet was a bigger shift in how society operates then social media is. I don't say that to down play the effect of social media on society. In just the last few years we witnessed the power of social media in gathering support for different movements all around the world. Movements like the rebellion in Egypt used social media to rally huge protests that eventually led to the over throwing of an autocratic government. In North America social media plays an important role in modern commerce and politics. Even the lowest level local politician knows that he/she must make use of social media as it can be the deciding factor in gaining support. Companies have realized the importance of marketing their products and services over social media. Traders in the stock market have poured billions of dollars worth of investment into social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, in the hopes that these companies will find a way to monetize their social media platforms in the future.

In conclusion social media is more then a fad, but I believe other things have had larger impacts on our society since the industrial revolution. Inventions such as the internet have drastically changed the way we exchange information and interact in commerce, without this invention I don't believe social media as we know it would be possible.