Saturday, September 6, 2008

Can Journalism Harness Social Media For Good?

NEARLY ALL OF THE students who have taken the survey I requested you take said that they use facebook.

It is an amazing tool, really, far more than just a way to pass the time. Why? Because you actually learn about your friends, their passions, their interests and what they're doing online.

And now with Twitter, people have the ability to update their friends of their activities every second of the day.

The New York Times Sunday Magazine explores the social networking phenomena:

For many people — particularly anyone over the age of 30 — the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd. Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb? The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism taken to a new, supermetabolic extreme — the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to be shared with the world.

Do you take issue with his description of your generation?

The real question I have for you is, is there a way to harness online social networking to transmit relevant news? Can newspapers, magazines, television stations and other Internet sites use tools like Twitter to inform the public, make people's lives better?

11 comments:

gabriellesc@temple.edu said...

social networking sites have been used to inform people of current news, i.e. myspace and the advertisements they occasionally do on the presidential election. i`m pretty sure media outlets could take advantage of networking sites for the better, but i`m not sure if it`d bring any profit..

Geo said...

I get the New York Times Twitter feeds. And I love it. But I'm not sure how they can make money on it. And as much as it sucks, journalism is a business.

The next step in the continuing evolution of media is trying to figure out how to pay for the content.

Think of a solution and you could be a millionaire. For real.

- George (the teacher)

anne said...

I agree with Gabrielle. The amount of time some people spend, including myself, on sites like facebook and myspace, is incredible. If we spent the same amount of time studying the news, we would be very much so educated on the topics of the world, yet, get real, we prefer talking to our friends and socializing. If the media made an even greater effort to incorporate the two together, I think it would come out quite nicely. Then,I think news might even spark an interest in the lives of those who thought they could never care about such or thing or spend their time on such a thing. People might actually realize there are benefits of knowing what is going on in the world..it is our world.

Megan McCue Journalism said...

I don't think our generation is any more narcisstic than previous ones, facebook and social networks are just ways of keeping in contact with your friends in an easy way. Journalists could definately harness these kinds of tools because you can pretty much find out any information about anything if you surf through facebook or myspace for long enough.

Dana said...

I think that "relevant" news can definitely be transmitted through social networking sites like facebook and twitter. If different media sources developed their own facebook or twitter pages people could subscribe to them and get the news feeds all of the time. Coming from someone who really enjoys the "irrelevant" news (gossip) I get on facebook, I would love this! That way more things would be in the same place. People would be able to get the scoop on what all of their friends are up to as well as what is going on in the world around them. A downside is that media sites would either have to charge money for the subscriptions or sell a lot of advertisement space in order to bring in any money from it.

-Dana Ricci

Dan Dorr said...

The idea of communicating in such a open environment on the internet is very new, and teens and young adults are excited about this new technology. Its making communicating completely different, just like the cell phone did. Before you couldn't go out at night, then call your friend thats at the mall doing this. No, most people gathered in social areas and hungout together and went home. Theres no way to know if their way, or our way is more efficient but i have my reservations. People need social interaction and with all the technology we use to waste our days we should at least get outside and talk to actual humans. Theres its obvious advantages though. You can keep in contact with old friends, plan social events, try to learn a little bit about the world by engaging with people from different places. I just think trying to meet people on the internet is just a bit strange.

Fuad O. said...

I believe that Twitter, Facebook, and the like can be utilized to inform the public and make people's lives better. They can accomplish such methods by:

1) Reaching a large group of individuals through
popular and frequently used/accessed websites.

2) Promoting the idea of networking between individuals

and finally...

3) Spreading/Distributing newsworthy events through more than one conventional source.

The internet offers a limitless pool of potential. If journalists can figure out a solution on how to get a large group of people to watch/view their particular news panel, then the positive aspects concerning online journalism will outweigh the negative.

youweremyarmy said...

OUCH. I have a huge issue with the distorted description of my generation. Like the described "many people," I too think that displaying your daily activities online is outrageous. Who has the time? And who, inversely, takes the time to read another people's life story day after day, as its still being written. Sorry, but my life isn't that interesting.

Aside from that issue, though, I'm not sure that adding relevant news to sites like facebook.com would benefit much. Facebook exists as more than social networking. It's fun. And once you throw news reports into the realm of self-created web-based fun, you take away some of that enjoyment. I am already soaking up so much informatiton from facebook, about my friends, and communities, that adding national and international information is an overload to the max.

Hattie said...

I feel Facebook and other social utilities would be a great place for real news to be found out, not only do college students use them frequently, but people of all ages and race do as well. My fathers company was told that they all should get a facebook just so they could keep in touch better. SO if news articles were posted on facebook or any other one of these cites, the story would reach plenty of viewers, although i agree with the couple before me that said i dont know how much money anyone would make off of it.

darrianr said...

We are living in a world where technology is really beginning to take hold of people, especially young people. Teenagers and young people today are definitely a completely different group of people than anyone over the age of thirty, and I believe that the only way for older people to understand us would be for them to BE us, which is impossible. The older people who have problems with the way we are living our lives should find a way to accept us and leave us alone to develop ourselves in our own way.

Geo said...

Yeah! Go away, old people!

- George (the aging teacher)