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