Journalism: The Relationship between Traditional Media and Social Media
Table of Contents
Communication and technological innovations of recent decades are regarded by the majority of people as a threat to traditional media. Initially, the scientific discussion addressed the issue of the future of print media and the need to rethink journalism education based on media convergence. With the rapid growth of social networks and their impact on the public sphere, the importance of Media Institute as the ‘fourth power’ was questioned in studies. Due to various factors, the public sphere is deformed and loses its function of shaping public opinion and influencing government institutions. The modern mass communications and social networks are seen as a barren imitation of the public sphere. This paper discusses the relationship between traditional media and social media not in terms of the replacement of the first by the second but as a form of interaction that led to the modification of certain roles and functions that were previously associated only with the media. Thus, it should be noted that the function of social control which is the basis of the concept of ‘media – the fourth power’ has become a relatively regular aspect realized not only by professional journalists but also by social networks users.
Social Media Substitute the Fourth Power or Becoming Fifth One
Social media’s reaction to any reportage circulated by the media transformed into a means of control over the activities of the media themselves that is very important when talking about the change of the social status of journalism. Therefore, it would be wrong to assume that the cause of the crisis of journalism as a socially significant activity in the eyes of society is the fact that social media users at no charge control the satisfaction of the interests of society. The function of protecting the public interest from all forms of abuse of power (political or financial) implemented by these users (in the broadest sense) is significantly less and, most importantly, not systematic. However, Internet users began to perform the function of ‘monitoring the inspectors’, which are true media professionals, while that was previously impossible.
The new challenge for professionals that emerged in the Internet means not only that self-educated inspectors spread news for free but also that they use other distribution channels where there is no monopoly of traditional media. Thus, active users oppose themselves to the media that leads to the emergence of a ‘fifth power’, thereby separating social media or substituting the ‘fourth’ one. Moreover, the presence of an investigation by the social networks users on their own plays an important role in this process. New methods of distribution of these posts (social networks, viral model, and the recommendation of friends in social networks, obviously providing a greater level of confidence) create a feeling that this activity is better than the paid work of professional journalists. New methods of dissemination of information were impacted by interactive features of the network environment, including the editorial policy of some traditional media.
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The topical issue of forecasting the development of new social media is explained by a number of objective reasons. Firstly, it is reasonable to stress the importance of the obsolescence of traditional communication channels such as mail, television, radio, and periodicals. Under the obsolescence the researcher means the inability to satisfy the need to inform the modern citizen. Today, a person makes such demands on media channels that classical or traditional media carriers are not able to adequately and relevantly insure and thus satisfy hunger for information. Another reason is the development of digital technology. Technological advances have caused the simultaneous consumption of multiple social media channels in a single device possible. Streams, radio programs, and news feeds became available on the screens of portable devices which served as a necessary and integral object of daily use such as a comb or a handkerchief. The desire of the modern consumer to independently configure, monitor and even create a media stream is one more reason why the new media should be anticipated and learnt today. On the basis of UGC (User Generated Content) there appeared video hosting, photo sharing, podcasts, blogs, wikis, and social networks, among others. Furthermore, it is vital to stress the importance of consumers, i.e. profiles of participants and their activities.
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Consideration of the development of new media in the world is extremely effective in the discourse. A key issue that will be covered in further analysis is the appropriateness of the current state of the global market for new media as well as ways and options for implementation of existing solutions. In fact, new media closely follow the concept of digital media. For example, Palfrey and Gasser (2010), by calling new generations digital, define new media as all means and organizations, which are based on the use of new or updated old technology utilized for collecting and processing information, information storage, and transmission of information.
Recent media solutions continue to emerge being put into practice. Apparently, these media products are the ‘relaxing’ and ‘pulling forward’ ones. Classical or traditional channels of communication such as books, movies, and live TV and radio programs are to be understood under the first type of product. Hereby, not any person is involved in the creation of information, and only consumes are the proposed product. Particular attention should be paid to the possibility to create own page using any social network and fill it with own relevant content, creating small internet media. New social media, being so useful and up to date with the position of the consumer’s final information, have a downside, namely the manufacturer of the content. Tasks of the manufacturer (developer) of the new media as a rule are simple, and one of them is commercial.
Social Networks Influence Traditional Media Principles and Values
There is an exchange of experiences and views on regular seminars, conferences, and exhibitions on the subject of forecasting the development of the industry between experts. What really matters, in addition to the technological and digital support for the development of new media, is the legal framework and government support (Berger 2010). In this aspect, a significant number of organizations that are supporting and co-financing projects on social media operate in the world. Hearings on legislative implementation of regulation of new media began recently, for example, in Germany (Law Commission 2011). The desire to submit news ‘live’ or ‘almost alive’ through social networking threatens traditional journalistic techniques for working with information. Elihu Katz (2009) expressed the fear that people are on the threshold of the beginning of the end of journalism as people know it, when the services of a professional editor or interviewer are of no need for the sake of showing the rapidly changing events and statements. Time to process the information, text writing and editing posts is almost gone because the new social technologies provide instant news transfer, and competition between the channels requires a dramatic audience involvement in the events. Thus, the channel edits the material simultaneously with the transmission, being almost ‘live’. Moreover, there is absolutely no editing but rather attempts to gather, understand and analyze information to present it in evening news. Social media transformed into 24-hour TV news based on the idea of interruption (Cushion & Lewis 2010). In this form of lighting, one piece of information has to push the other, a more recent one; statements of the leaders are necessary, which are immediately refuted by their opponents. In this manner of presenting information, Katz sees a continuation of the “Vietnamese journalism” that is news with a significant political background given in a framework of governmental needs (Zelizer 2006). Supporters of social media journalism argue that the viewer gets the opportunity to be an editor themselves, while critics say it is not appropriate for professional media since it changes the principles and values of the latter (Fowler-Watt & Allan 2013). Experts also note the growth of reporter’s error opportunities and spread of misconceptions, as well as the widening gap between the time scale of brief news and a timeline of social and political processes. Therefore, the paper examines a possible correlation of the new journalism ‘immediacy’ created mainly by social networking and the old journalism professional mediation, where the first replaces the second or they complement each other. Immediacy of news with representation of drama, violence and negativity leads to audience apathy and ‘terrible collective demoralization’ (Hoenisch 2005).
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Social Media as a Part of Journalism
Social media around the world have become an important source of news, replacing traditional media or functioning along with them. According to a national survey conducted in 2010 in the United States, 34% of Americans said they obtained news online, against 29% in 2008 (Katz & Lai 2009). The survey shows that in the US, more people receive daily news from online sources rather than from newspapers. In fact, social network users made a significant contribution to such changes. Social network users, who aim to share news, are distinguished from the journalist professionals. The latter are anyone who produces information, working as an employee or as a salaried employee at an independent company, which disseminates information through publications, television and radio broadcasts, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic or other means. In contrast, social network users usually do not receive salary for their work and can be defined as persons who are engaged in the collection and publication of relevant and unique documentary information in its sole discretion without formal journalistic training or professional affiliations, or even as members of the public engaged in journalism. Thus, the practice of social network users’ journalism is a participatory journalism. The results of the joint activities of social network users and volunteers are taking a larger place in the news and quasi-democratic states. Apparently, this activity is often criticized for being a superficial approach where social network users are accused of using recycled and recyclable materials of dubious origin, which in the end may not be of great value. Moreover, it is argued that their activities are destroying the true sources of real news that they simply eat (Fuller 2010).
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Posting on Twitter or Facebook has become a familiar part of messaging that accompanies the work of the so-called old media. In other words, today, all forms of news media, including magazines, radio and television programs, especially newspapers, have online versions. Apparently, it may seem that this was one of the conditions of the existence of the advanced industrial societies. In addition, the global trend is that information and communication technologies have changed the traditional balance between producers and consumers of news and the journalistic profession. Social networks services such as Twitter and Facebook have made available new information and forecasts for both regional and local events. They also added the important and often opposing interpretation of the meaning and significance of these developments.
One of the responses of traditional media institutions was borrowing of these tools. For example, most newspapers in the US, namely large, medium and even small, began to actively interact with their readers in social networks. The range and frequency of such interaction is impressive, and many newspapers offer their readers a wide range of tools provided by social networks. It is obvious that newspapers are very interested in allowing readers to receive a notice about the information of interest that appears in the publication of these newspapers. It is evident that newspapers are aware of the real situation since all big newspapers and the majority of small and medium introduced push technology (push technologies, such as RSS – Really Simple Syndication – protocol operational news reports Internet users). Also, social bookmarking grows rapidly. In addition to the utilization of these social media-oriented services, traditional media often do not seek to re-think itself as a completely new subject. In fact, some newspapers such as ‘Christian Science Monitor’ have become fully digital, completely abandoning print (Thompson 2013). Thus, this probably represents the next step in the evolution of the press.
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Social networks have the potential to become a new editor in the selection of news. In fact, instead of experts, decision-makers of the value of the message or the accuracy of information, social networks and crowdsourcing became a new judge in this respect. The growing importance of social networks in delivering the news to society can be illustrated by the example of New York Times, which is the leading US newspaper. As a result of the Comscore Company analysis of web site visits of this newspaper in the period from 2008 to 2009, it was announced that Facebook is a factor encouraging the involvement of readers (Miller & Lammas 2011). For the same period, traffic with Facebook, arriving to the site, has increased from 2.9% to 4.8%, while the annual growth was 66%. Although the study was taken for a short period, the trend is impressive. It is clear that social media has the potential to become an important tool to guide users to the news content. In fact, in the US and Europe, Facebook has become an important factor that should be considered in a news release, as it attracts more and more advertisers to create other forms of competition for revenue streams.
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Today, the technological potential of radio, television, and electronic versions of newspapers allow one to go to a higher level of interactivity. The completion of a cycle of civilizational development of social media which become an element of direct information exchange as a generalized, group audience, and with personalized recipient (so, turning to the Internet, people can directly talk to a journalist) leads to significantly changing communications field and the information environment. Capabilities of the interactive journalism are related to the implementation of principles. Among them are the principle of personalization and individualization of information contact, sophisticated segmentation of the target audience and alternative sources of information. In modern conditions, the interaction of interactive type becomes dominant; it does not negate the traditional journalism but creates a new type of information relations and a new type of journalist. At the level of professional journalism, convergence leads to the merging of previously quite remote and disparate media. The ability to receive the same content through different channels is radically changing preconceived notions about the channels of communication and information as a result of the transfer of some functions to other media. The future of the old media is becoming less certain. Although, as noted, historically one of the most notable features of the communications was that the newly formed means of communication did not eliminate the older ones.
Convergence of different media and the appearance of common to the various channels of content products lead to the appearance of new integrated genres. If anyone can post information online, it is unclear what determines why one calls it news or journalism, and the other entertainment or advertising. While the shape is not well established, there are no precise criteria to define and distinguish the work of journalists and journalism network from other types of information. In most cases, journalism network is largely dependent on the elements in common with the other media, where social networking outstands from other types. Gradually, it will develop its own voice, the rules and the format for submissions. Thus, it is evident that with the advent of the World Wide Web, journalists got a brand new tool to enhance their skills and professionalism, which are means that are free from many of the limitations inherent in other media.