Seconds after the London terror attack, social media erupted. Seconds after the first bomb at the 2013 Boston marathon, social media erupted. #WeStandTogether, #PrayForBoston and #WestminsterAttack were trending on Twitter and Facebook within minutes, and were used over 3 million times. I’ll be the first to admit that I found out about the Westminster terrorist attack via my Twitter feed. Not the BBC, ITV or newspaper organisations; it was social media that broke the news, beat the journalists and had the scoop first.
There’s no denying it, social media platforms have changed the face of journalism and the news industry. Some may say they present incredible opportunities whilst others suggest it’s damaging the nature of journalism. For me, as an aspiring journalist, it’s only enhanced the industry and encouraged me to learn new skills. Its created new possibilities, opportunities and opened doors that were once foreign to the journalism world. It’s brought about transparency and a broader range of viewpoints, and unfortunately those who don’t embrace it will get swallowed up in the tide of change.
“Being a journalist in the social media age means you have to be multi-skilled as traditional roles are morphing into one.”
Social media provides an open sea of information that journalists can absorb. Of course, some of the information is irrelevant, but a large amount of it is increasingly a rich source of potential stories. We should be encouraging citizen journalists to have a voice because quite frankly, journalists can’t be everywhere at once. The future journalist should embrace tools like Twitter, TweetDeck, Facebook and Snapchat, as it’s vital they have a good knowledge of processing information in the digital age.
In a world of distractions and shrinking attention spans people expect the news to just fit into their lives, and thanks to social media it can and it does. The modern age reader wants real time information; gone are the days where people sit down at an appointed time to watch the evening news and catch up on current affairs. An overwhelming number of people get their news from Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.
Being a journalist in the social media age means you have to be multi-skilled as traditional roles are morphing into one. I am a multimedia journalist who is required to source, publish, edit and promote my stories but that’s all part of the fun.
Social media helps reach a wider audience which wouldn’t of even been imagineable to the journalist 10 years ago. Interaction and engagement with the audience is constantly increasing at a considerable pace. Sharing, liking, commenting and giving feedback enhances a story. No longer is communication between the media and audience one-way, which helps journalists understand their audience better and subsequently tailor their story-telling accordingly.
As the finishing line of my degree is firmly in sight and I’m starting to apply for jobs as a journalist, I’m aware the employer no longer hires a journalist solely on the basis of their writing skills. It’s all about their online presence, brand, multimedia skills and social media abilities because, lets face it, being a good writer isn’t enough anymore.
I think journalism and social media go hand in hand. Journalists shouldn’t see social media as a threat, they should see it as a helping hand on the road towards creating better compelling news.
Social media is changing the face of journalism and the future journalist must evolve with it. They need to master digital narratives, become more tech-savvy and reinvent how to tell stories to match the right tone with the right audience. Additionally, multimedia skills are essential for the future journalist as social media continues to takeover.