Social media has, for the most part, changed the way everyone views and consumes news. Whereas people used to be required to tune in to the evening news or read a daily newspaper for the scoop, anyone today can subject themselves to a 24-hour barrage of news with TVs, computers, phones, and more. Hell, you can get news on your watch!
With the advent of social media, news became more instantaneous than it had ever been in the past. People can tweet from anywhere at any time to share a recent event. Obviously, members of the media got in on that, and Twitter has quickly become one of the best news sources in the world.
Social media is without a doubt the fastest way to get your news now. As soon as someone catches word of something, journalists and publications fire off a tweet or post with a “BREAKING” tag or otherwise, and everyone immediately has it in front of their face.
News is also easily updated on social media. You can generally link posts to others, or comment on originals, so additional information can be added at any time, regardless of when it is acquired. Updating social media posts generally bumps them up to the top of peoples’ feeds, which keeps everyone up to date.
One really interesting concept that social media has facilitated and made more relevant is crowdsourcing. While reporters have always been able to hit the streets and find people to comment on stories, social media has made the practice easier and more effective. Publications can prompt their followers to share their stories, then all they have to do is pick the best of them and insert them into the story. It’s also totally reasonable to make entire stories using crowdsourcing.
The downside to using social media in news, though, is that it’s really easy to come up with completely fabricated news. The more outlandish and flagrant it is, the faster it will spread. This is why places like the AP always attribute their breaking news to a source, so that if the news ends up being untrue, they aren’t responsible for it. And how!