How is Social Media Reshaping the News Industry?

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.

CNN's iReport.com

CNN's iReport.com

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.

NY Times on Twitter

NY Times on Twitter

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?

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    Great article, Fadi. You opened my eyes to a perspective that I didn't realize existed on such a scale.

    Looks like both CNN (with iReport) and NYTimes (with Twitter) are doing a great job evolving into more social news sources. Surfing DIgg and Reddit, I also notice that The Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk) is also doing good in it's own way. On every page of their site, there is a section called “Telegraph on Digg”, as well as a share button for users of other social media sites.

  • http://mysbciclub.org donna

    social media agency has a greatest contribution in any other media business…..

  • http://twitter.com/arjarosz Andy Jarosz

    Great Article Fadi. Nice to see the argument from the media's perspective, and I agree that the media companies that embrace social networking will engage with a much broader audience, and gain readers at a time when we are all expecting our news instantly and snappily. Was amazed to see in your article how far behind the BBC are!

    I have worked on a parallel position from the point of the individual http://bit.ly/WpsI8 and the same principles seem to apply.

  • http://www.pcbistro.com/ Kurtis Taylor

    I agree that it is a lot simpler holding a smartphone or netbook than holding an oversize newspapers for already outdated news and or information as well as social interaction with the writers and the reader.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    Fadi, I just was looking around Twitter, and I noticed that CNN has another twitter account (http://twitter.com/cnnbrk). This one has 2 million + followers. Not sure why they didn't promote the 'cnn' Twitter account!

    So, looks like NYTimes is not the news leader on Twitter, it's CNN. :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    Amer, thanks to bringing this to my attention! Ithought that @CNN would be their main official one! It seems that they have different twitter accounts for their sub-services, these are what I found so far:
    1. CNN Money Markets: @CNNMoney_mkts 1,664 follower
    2. CNN Money Top News: @CNNMoney_News 1,536 follower
    3. CNN International: @cnni 26,360 follower
    4. CNN Political Ticker: @politicalticker 33,591 follower
    5. CNN: @CNN 154,758 follower
    6. CNN.com: @cnndotcomlive 9,556 follower
    7. CNN Newsroom: @CNN_Newsroom 37,923 follower
    8. Ireport: @cnnireport 24,598 follower
    9. CNN American Morning: @amFIX 11,212 follower
    10. Black America CNN: @BlackAmericaCNN 2,902 follower
    11. CNN Breaking News: @cnnbrk 2,200,811 follower

    I am sure that are many others! It seems that CNN is taking the issue of social media in a very serious way. I find it reasonable enough to have different sub twitter accounts in order to support each section/program of them. It was naive of me to think that a news agency as big as CNN would reside to just one Twitter account.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Yet another great mind-stimulating discussion! Good job Fadi!
    I guess to me, there will always be a special touch-feel experience when it comes to newspapers because I was brought up to see the newspaper every single morning, suffer to try to hold it properly before it falls apart and run to wash my black-ink painted fingers after I'm done! :)

    I do hope the newspapers will survive this reshaping and end up being of higher standards and more focused on the news that concerns people and can eventually bring them together at one point.

  • http://wwww.communityorganizer20.com/ Debra Askanase

    Fadi- a fantastic article! One blog that I often read is the Online Journalism Blog. Paul Bradshaw is a journalism teacher in England and often writes on this subject. I think your article compliments much of his work and his would compliment this article. He often focuses on foreign correspondence and that relationship with social media and technology in reporting. I highly suggest looking at his blog. Thanks for this great post.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    Hi Debra, thanks for pointing out the Online Journalism Blog. It seems like a good quality blog with great content. I will most definatly bookmark it :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/08/how-to-blog-about-the-latest-news-scoops-using-yahoo-pipet.html HOW TO: Blog About the Latest News Scoops Using Yahoo! Pipet | Thoughtpick Blog

    [...] Social news sites. We believe that CNN’s iReport, and Wikinews are excellent social news sources. Wikinews offers both the “new pages” feed and “published” news feed. iReport also offers news through RSS feed. Social media is indeed reshaping the news industry! [...]

  • http://kristindyersblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/is-social-media-saving-the-news-industry/ Is Social Media Saving the News Industry? « Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Media

    [...] seems like a good way for news organizations to actively engage with viewers.  Before the communication channel was strictly a one way, audiences simply read or [...]

  • http://automatedsocialnetworking.com Robert Portman

    Because of social media, there are really lots of changes happen in our modern industry. Another great article FAdi.

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