Innovation in 2017

The Rise of Social Media in Contemporary Journalism

Written by Claire Ciantar

Is social media helping or hindering modern-day Journalism?

Recently, journalism has had to develop and adapt to the new and ever-changing society in which we live.

With the rise of digital technology, interviews, phones calls and press conferences are now seen as more traditional sources of journalistic information.

New digital and online avenues have developed for journalists to gather information, such as Twitter, Facebook and Google.

Social media has revolutionised communication and the way journalists are able to gather and distribute stories.

The increased use of social media, has allowed contemporary reporters to cover stories that may otherwise be deemed too expensive or time-consuming.

In some instances, social media has assisted in breaking a news story or developing it further.

In February 2013, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) discovered the presence of organised crime and illicit drug use in Australian sport.

The results of the investigation concluded the performance enhancing drug market had expanded, potential match fixing was a problem and coaches and sports scientists were also involved.

When the ACC released the findings of the study, the race was on between news organisations to break the story and it was Caro Meldrum-Hanna, a reporter from the ABC, who did just that.

In this article, Meldrum-Hanna recalls that her skill set in trawling through information on social media was vital in being able to draw connections between key players in the saga.

Meldrum-Hanna stated that using social media gave her the ability to verify identities and associations and allowed for the investigative work to be quickened.

While there are a number of positive effects, social media can potentially involve legal risks and a loss of exclusivity on a particular story.

There are also issues surrounding factuality and how credible social media actually is, as a source of journalistic information.

There is also an issue with social media breaking stories before news organisations, which also ties into the credibility of that story.

In February 2012, mourners took to Twitter regarding the death of pop sensation Whitney Houston before any news organisation.

The Boston Marathon bombings was also broadcast on Twitter in April 2013 before news broke in the media.

Also, rather than the traditional use of a press conference, Twitter announced its decision to go public through Twitter in September 2013.

Journalists are faced with various values, ethics and privacy issues surrounding social media and it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish who is actually setting the news agenda; social media or news organisations?

About the author

Claire Ciantar