The Digital Age of Journalism is here, and the Audience has a Say

Evolution of Interaction

The innovators behind the advent of call-in radio in 1945 set an incredible precedent; suddenly, rather than through a strongly-written (and seldom replied to) letter to the editor, listeners with particularly feverish opinions concerning any topic under the sun could voice their political ire easily and instantaneously, for the world to hear. Dan Gillmore, author of We the Media, describes this moment as “the transition to consolidation” between media and the audience. Furthered by television in the 1960s and 1970s, this audience-newsmaker relationship has since been overhauled by rapid technological evolution: namely, the launch of social media.

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center:

  • Roughly 50% of twitter and facebook users get news from twitter and facebook
  • 62% of reddit users get news from reddit
  • 50% of social network users have reposted or shared news content
  • 46% have had discussions on the site concerning news content
  • 14% have shared pictures of news events, while 12% have shared video of news events on social networking sites

Whether we like it or not, social media is changing the game and it’s here to stay. As journalists, we best keep up or risk becoming irrelevant on a shape-shifting digital medium.

Steps we can Take

Aaron Edwards (@aaronmedwards), mobile news editor at Buzzfeed and writer of a recent Nieman Lab piece on the changing racial aspects of covering news, is well-versed in marrying social media and journalism in a relevant, engaging way. He said he sees “no reason why fun and serious news cannot coexist.”

Buzzfeed, as a current leader in social media entertainment, could be a strong indication of the direction many news organizations will soon be taking; link shares to web pages with slick, easy-to-navigate, touchscreen optimized features that deliver the news with a single swipe.

We can’t fall behind; after all, what is a journalist without an audience?





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