Social media role in delivering news events
When I was in college I stumbled upon an article about dramatic media news events (printed copy). I can’t remember the name of the article and I could not find it online. The article talked about three dramatic news events: accomplishments, competitions, and coronations. For instance, stepping on the moon was quite dramatic accomplishments. Campaigning for presidency role is a very long competition with several challenging milestones (e.g. debates) and one dramatic end. The inauguration ceremony is an example for dramatic coronations.
This article was written many years ago way before the term social media was coined. I do remember enjoying reading it because the article captured well the role of TV and traditional mass media in broadcasting these breath taking news.
There are more dramatic events in our life some positive falling under the categories of the three mentioned above and others not so much: terror attack, extreme weather and earthquake to name a few. Social media today plays a significant role in dramatic events. People can participate and augment the news report via sharing, reacting, analysis, celebrating and more. It is a potential outlet for thoughts and feeling otherwise kept inside. It is much easier to share when you see that many more participants do so and so openly. The major dramatic events are not a daily thing (thanks god), yet there are numerous small scale life events that happens all the time.
A birth of a baby or getting married. Some people shared about buying a new iPhone as an accomplishment event (after standing for hours in line I can see that too:). Your product was selected for a voting competition is another. Being listed for the Oprah of the social media is some sort of coronation events or wining a prize. Running a short query on Twitter Search revels lots of small to large accomplishments. On the negative side by registering to the Missing Persons room on FriendFeed we are now exposed to horrible and terrifying news. If you feel that the news does not following you enough go ahead and follow both traditional and social news about the elections here. It was hard to ignore the World Series tweets even after the Red Sox did not make it there:) . Even personal historical life events like the #badfirstdate are widely shared on Twitter – I had some good laugh reading through. And if there is a need to check the sentiment on Twitter when something new happened try this query. Beware, don’t try it on Monday morning:) I learned about Paul Newman death on Twitscoop. I was an admirer and I wanted to see what others are saying about it.
The social media news world provides the stage for endless additional sources sharing both type of dramatic and not so news events. Beyond sharing, this new media creates an echo chamber where people are commenting, reacting, voting and raising awareness. One would think that an inflation of news event will depreciate the value of a single drama but in my opinion it is the other way around. The social media channels (tools and applications) only amplified the experience of most events. Sharing something that happened (or happening) in your life (good or bad) on Twitter, your blog or your news feed on Facebook could actually reach a large part of the blog/twitter-sphere. On the other end, participating and discussing world, country, town, friends and family events has the potential for changing the original news.
There are lots of open questions about the new media and its role in general. Here are few questions about its specific role in distributing and handling news events:
- How to make sure that enough context is provided along with the report maintaining the integrity of the news item?
- Can we deal with all these news events?
- How accomplishments, competitions, and coronations looks like in a world of sharing?
- In what ways social media opens up new methods for experiencing dramatic event?
When the news look like a bunch of tags organized in a circle (tag cloud), when what that matters is only the size of the font and the rate of change in size, it is very easy to loose the context. You may not see it now but some of us already getting use to consume the news this way. One day we can see a hashtag like this #theskyisfalling and only later find out that this is a name of a new movie:)
In social media where the word broadcasting was replace with self-casting, or better known as sharing, dramatic events from all types become a daily phenomenon. We are use to expect the traditional media delivering the news with dignity, integrity and respect (we are very mad when it doesn’t). Keeping these traditional values in the new media is crucial for its success (yes, especially for the business). I like to see that social media is taking the news from where mass media left it, using the great power of participation for changing the norm, from passive news absorption to active experience. Social media has the power transforming news to experience and maybe even relationships.
**I’m not an expert in social media and this is probably my first and last article about this very confusing and widly defined subject. Since this blog is about web phenomena (hence the name webnomena) I could not ignore the way I consume and partciapte in the news via blogs, twitter, social network and many other tools.