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Media and Social Media: How News Is Created

social media's influence on the newsIt might sound like ancient history but there was a time when news stories took time to create. Journalists would spend months sometimes even years in attempt to dig up the truth. Take the story of the Watergate scandal. Watergate originally happened in the beginning 1972 and it wasn’t until mid-1973 that the story broke on the news. The story built on meetings with an informant “Deep Throat” who leaked information about the cover-ups happening in Washington. Another year passed and Nixon left office. If this happened today probably instead of years for all things to take place it would have been instant.

Information in the past was held back by a dam created by cover-ups, lies, fear and lack of access to a broadcast channel. Social media has come like a storm that ripped huge holes in those dams. The internet gave people the anonymity they needed to come forward to be whistleblowers and spread the truth. Social media took this one step forward and gave people means to broadcast their message to the world. No time in history has there been such an opportunity for people to get heard.

This revolution has been great for speeding up the rate at which news is released; however, it has introduced a new problem. Before news agencies decided what was or is news. They would choose stories based on historical significance, public interest, and potential sensationalism. These rules of what is or isn’t news are gone. Now the worth of news is determined by likes, views, pluses, retweets, diggs, and other social shares. This sounds great because it is democratic, but also caters to the lowest common denominator. News agencies have now let social media to make the choice about what to report.

By removing the critical thinking behind what is news worthy we are often left with mediocre news, which maybe timely but not enduring. For example I was watching a report on the US elections and the report featured a popular Youtube video where a little girl was crying about about the fact there was too much election coverage. The election will decide the future of the US and possibly the world and that should mean the coverage should be informed so people can make the best choice. In order for news to maintain its worth, it must find a balance between its perceived value of the moment and its value for future generations.

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