Week 10: Social media

What makes ‘social’ media?

Web 1.0/Web2.0

One way communication

  • Websites
  • Some news outlets still run with this mentality

Two way communication

  • Email access

Multi-directional communication

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Comment sections

Production and Distribution:

How does this change the way news is made?

  • New sources of information
  • New means of communication

How does it change the way news is accessed?

  • Curating your own editorial experience
  • Socially mediated editing
  • Ambient news
  • More information about how news is consumed

Rise of the ‘Prosumer’

A producer and consumer of content

  • Democratic or at least egalitarian
  • Co-creation of news
  • Role of journalist as gatekeeper

User generated content

  • Validation and verification
  • Wider, speedier coverage
  • Self curation of news

‘Fat Democracy’

Aeron Davis (2009) ‘New media and ‘fat’ democracy

Two conflicting processes

  • Increase in the size and plurality of the elite
  • Increase in the division between the elite and the citizenry

Greater access and more information links between journalist and politicians

Increase in disconnection and disenfranchisement

Possibly changing with recent increase in labour party membership.

New news old news makers?

‘Organic’ and ‘forced’ growth on social media platforms.

Everyone is equal on Facebook but some are more equal than others, especially when we all know already who they are.

Popularity of traditional news media

Professional journalists as ‘independent’ bloggers

Citizen journalism

Breaking news and breaking taboos:

Twitter especially useful for breaking news

Advantage for traditional media and people on the ground.

Trade off between speed and accuracy

No filters on Facebook what is ok to show?

  • Boobes and bodies
  • A push medium without a trigger warning?
  • Mediation of online discussion

Social grieving and ‘tragedy hipster’

Local history of online multi directional communication as a forum for public grief

  • Death of Princess Diana
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Haitian earthquake
  • Paris attacks

Solidarity and sympathy


Tragedy hipsters and the policing of grief

Trust and verification:

Seymour Hersh the ‘glut of information’

Credibility as currency in social media dominated landscape

  • Popularity of Legacy Media
  • Potential space for citizen journalist filling gaps in Legacy media real or perceived.

Verification at times complex and not very cost effective

  • Can be outsourced to online specialists
  • Rise of sites such as snopes.com for debunking popular myths and memes.

Memes of Journalism:

Huge potential for innovative use of data journalism

  • Sourced infographics linking to research

Possible infotainment quality could be seen as lowbrow, soft news.

Effective means to popularise non-mainstream content and outlets.

  • Polemical opinion not seen in the mainstream

Exploitation by extremist forces

  • Memes as deceptive propaganda


Social media involves two-way or multi-way communication

It is the fundamental defining feature of web 2.0

For journalists and consumers it has an impact on both the production of and access to news

Speed and pluralism have to contend with in accuracy and possible extremism

Pluralism may be restricted to a broadening but increasing elusive elite.


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