Who Has The First Word?

Ok I have to admit; I am what most young adults might describe as technically backwards. My tool of communication is a Nokia “brick” mobile, I do not have a Twitter/YouTube account and I rarely update my Facebook. In the eyes of many this severely limits my ability to communicate and technology-pros might even dub me as a social recluse when it comes to the plethora of ways to communicate virtually. Perhaps I am a travesty to the social media revolution, but call me old fashioned I would rather talk to someone in person than be locked behind a screen, unable to physically express emotion.

On the other hand, perhaps there are significant disadvantages of being stuck in my archaic, pre 3G (now even 4G) world?

Although the obvious and superficial reason of being ‘years behind the trend’ might damage my “credibility” with peers, the main disadvantage for me as a hopeful journalist is the startling rise of citizen journalism in the 21st century through social media sites. It is likely the breaking news you see reported on the television, radio or in print papers have been tipped off or found out by social media sites. In fact a study carried out by Cision and Canterbury Christ Church University, discovered 80% of journalists utilize twitter as a journalistic tool, which undoubtedly constitutes to a quarter of journalists stating they are unable to work without social media sites.

One might argue this is just the case for a new breed of journalist belonging to the colossal Facebook generation. Yet the extremely wise and highly credible John Snow even praises Twitter as ‘leading people to water‘ and an invaluable tool for all journalists.

Perhaps best demonstrated by the international media coverage of Syria, the majority of reporters are Syrian activists that capture and upload videos, images and reports on their smartphones. Furthermore Liz Sly, the Washington Post’s Baghdad bureau chief, describes how communication with Syrian people on the inside, help to infiltrate President Bashar al-Assad desperate attempts to conceal events. She comments that it was only the ‘sheer volume of the videos that made people realize all of this was stuff really going on’, stressing the importance of citizen journalists and social media sites.

So whilst its evident social media sites in journalism are here to stay, how safe are actual journalists and the papers they report for?

Last year alone, The Guardian lost £37 million pounds, whereas its cousin the Independent similarly suffered a 46.7% drop in print sales. This all seems to point to the fact 43% of young people rely on social networks to find news, highlighting print journalism as an almost awkward and inefficient medium to transmit news across the world. This reflects the 16% of journalists that claim social media will eventually kill journalism, however there must be hope that journalists are still worth keeping?

Fundamentally the answer lies in the respectability and trustworthiness of journalism today. Whereas we might be second in the race to report breaking news, journalists are still needed to for their objective and truthful accounts. Authenticity proves a great obstacle in social media documentation, stressing the importance of the respected journalist’s coverage. As a result, journalists like Andrew Marr and Lyse Doucet will always stand out as pillars of truth in perhaps a more precarious age of uncertainty in news reports. One can only hope that earning credibility in honest reportage is enough to secure the journalist rightful place on the stage of world media coverage.

So whereas I hope to revive the “brick” as a new case of vintage, I perhaps should be thinking of reaching out my social hand and embracing our technological advancements. Although I cannot deny I am worried that hyper-communications will lead to the decline in recognized journalism, I have faith that there will always be a demand for objective and candid reportage from trusted sources.

After Note:

If you would like the find out more on the subject, I would fully recommend watching http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nd97f for a full insight into the prospects of journalism against social media sites.

For a more satirical view, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPSpN_OIuDc&list=PL2590A725F0D2A570&index=7&feature=plpp_video to see Charlie Brooker explores citizen journalism in a more humorous light.

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