The world is different than it was 10 years ago.
Heck, the world is different than it was a mere one year ago, social-media wise. Considering the fast-paced flow of digital technology, it’s no surprise that its exposure to society’s collective psyche has had a profound effect on the way we take in and react to new information.
Facebook keeps you connected to all of your friend’s lives at once. Twitter keeps you up to speed with global happenings via a waterfall of short, punchy 140-character messages. It’s no wonder that we’ve been conditioned to be less patient than generations before us.
The closer my gratification is to instant, the happier I am.
And of course, this fast-paced exchange is not confined to social networks. It is now cemented as a part of our culture. We see this, for example, in the way news companies strive to remain competitive.
For them, it is no longer the delivery, presentation or quality of the story itself that takes precedent. It’s how fast the story is broken, and if that story can be broken before competitors cover it.
It’s mirrors an idiotic blog commenter scrambling to yell ‘first!’
However, unlike these blog commenters, the race to be first in breaking news is justified. It’s a good look.
The danger lies that in the rush to produce and publish the story, time that otherwise could have been used for quality control is lost. Fact checking takes a backseat to this hurry. It is no surprise then, that on numerous occasions we see traditional news outlets making updates on both their main websites as well as Twitter streams that later have to be retracted due to being accidentally inaccurate, false or misleading.
Similarly, the rush to ‘break news’ and publish original content can cloud a person’s foresight in terms of audience reactions.
An example of this is Mashable’s shocking Facebook post in relation to the recent shooting in Aurora during a midnight screening of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.
A video taken of the terrifying aftermath of the incident from a smartphone was posted along with the message ‘Our thoughts go out to families and friends of those affected by this tragedy.’ This insensitivity caused a great rage in response.
Here we see Mashable eager to post content that perhaps should have been thought twice about. It’s today’s compulsion for haste that perhaps clouds better judgement.
It is interesting to think how the internet and social media has influenced the way we digest the news, as well as how that news is produced on a grand scale. Perhaps even more interesting, then, is seeing how social media can be a direct, primary influence.
Because of its nature, we are now able to receive our news from our own social media networks hours before a traditional news company has had a chance to publish a single word on the story.
For example, the trending topic #QLDFloods was such a successful Twitter topic during the disaster, it was eventually picked up and used as the official source for new developments by Queensland Police. This was then followed by entities such as the Brisbane City Council and the ABC.
What we see here is news being produced on a consumer level. Produced, and then rapidly spread throughout user’s extended social networks.
This is interesting in that news that originates from Social Media can sometimes be inaccurate – perhaps due to mistakes being made, perhaps due to intentional trolling – and oftentimes there’s no way to verify facts.
When a traditional news outlet reports a story, they have their reputation on the line. We believe they’re not falsifying information, as that’s not the business they’re in (jokes about political bias aside). News that originates from social, however – especially when turned viral – can often be taken as truth even when there is little merit to the original information.
For example, during the Queensland floods, false rumours were widely spread using social media, such as the evacuation of Brisbane. Retaining a good sense of skepticism when taking in news purely from social sources is always a good idea.
It’s not just the public that can be duped, however. Traditional news sources have also been tripped up, producing inaccurate stories when using social media as a source. As mentioned, its the rush to get these stories out that negates the desire to spend ample time fact-checking.
The internet and social media has had a profound effect on the way that we digest information, as well as how that information is produced. Our news as a result has seen a change in both the priorities in its delivery, as well as how it is sourced, and where we receive it from. Traditional news companies are trying to keep up with the speed of social media, while news originating from social itself – while very speedy – can be easily corrupted and oftentimes needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Where do you rely on getting your news from? Do you think traditional outlets are to be more trusted than social? Let us know your thoughts on how you believe social and digital has effected our news in the comments below!