Social Media took the world of traditional media by surprise. More and more people are abandoning their newspaper and cable subscriptions and adhering to the internet with its various social media websites. While some argue that history proved new media doesn’t necessary destroy old one (Television didn’t destroy Cinema or Radio), no one can deny that there is a huge challenge facing news media outlets. Social media has set a new milestone in the history of media and re-defined the way people access information. Printed newspapers may be the channel that is suffering the most, but it is a matter of time before they realize the changes in the play ground and evolve to harness the new found powers.
People are the media; that is the state of the world today, where anyone with a cell phone and equipped with a merely decent digital camera can broadcast to the world. Bloggers have been gaining ground and reaching wider audience, and twitterers have been making the news faster than any other news agency. What does this mean for news media outlets? It breaks their monopoly of news – for the first time in history – and opens the door of competition with many enthusiastic individuals!
But how much of a risk does it really pose? I mean how much competition is really there between an amateur making the news and a professional team of experts? This can easily be monitored on social bookmarking websites like Digg and Reddit where many of the most popular submissions are taken from articles posted at well-established news media outlets. Social media has opened the door for a better distribution and a much wider reach for those news agencies. Bloggers who discuss current news affairs usually link to a credible news source. Twitterers usually tweet news taken from their favorite news sites, or events they witness personally. It is not just that, some bloggers and twitterers occasionally make news, they report fresh news that can be a good source for news media outlets where they can provide better coverage and address different sides of the story.
Social media may, in fact, help save the newspaper industry. Here are some features that news outlets should take care of in order to be social media adequate:
1. Most popular, top stories and most emailed sections: Most online newspapers have noticed the importance of this section. People like to read what others find interesting. That explains the popularity of social bookmarking sites and can easily be incorporated in their websites.
2. Active Twitter account: With an impressive figure of 1,314,829 followers, the NYTimes proved to be the most efficient newspaper to utilize Twitter. Compare this to CNN‘s 151,683 follower, Al Jazeera‘s (English) 10,966 follower and the humble BBC with 6,881 follower, one can get an idea of who are gaining grounds online. It seems that NYTimes’s social media editor is doing a really good job.
3. Online Community: It is a great idea to build an online community. NYTimes is not just the most efficient in using Twitter, they have also introduced their own social media network through a toolbar that appears on the top of their website. It allows you to be part of the NYTimes community, add friends and share your opinion.
4. People’s submissions: It was due to YouTube’s success when TV news stations started to realize the importance of people’s submissions. CNN led the flock with their successful ireport.com. It is a comprehensive social networking site where people don’t just submit videos but also share, comment and follow each others. One aspect of the website that I like the most is the assignments’ section; CNN gives people specific assignments on certain topics, they promise that some covered stories may make it on CNN news channel. That is a smart move from CNN where now they have potentially millions of reporters around the world!
5. Blogs: CNN has different blogs for their different programs. NYTimes also has many different blogs for their writers. Blogs resemble writer columns in traditional printed newspapers.
Tell us your opinion, what other factors should news outlets take into consideration in order to keep up with the advancements of social media? It’s usually: “survival of the fittest“. Social Media will definitely reshape the news industry – if it hasn’t done most of the reshaping already. Who do you think will survive?