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Social media gives journalism a run for its money

01 Jun 2011

When you think about Facebook or Twitter, you don’t usually associate them with serious news. However, it would appear that social media is actually strengthening the market for quality journalism.The reason for this is that people are using sites like Facebook to share news with friends, family and colleagues. The stories circulating on social media sites are more likely to be read because they are recommended by someone you know. In a way, social media works as a human filter, picking out quality content.For a long time, we depended on links to determine what people were looking at and voting for online. The problem with this is that now people are starting to sell links, which devalues them and leaves us searching for new ways to locate user-approved content online. A Facebook "like” or a LikedIn share now serve as more trusted and valuable votes of approval.Surprisingly, the most common types of stories being shared are the hard news and in-depth journalism articles, as opposed to gossip and opinion pieces. This may be hard to believe considering the nature of Facebook (or at least what springs to many people’s minds when they think about Facebook), but it actually makes a lot of sense.People may in fact be reading more gossip or "fluff” pieces than serious news articles, but the stories that we share with others are more likely to be news related, since what we share tends to shape others’ opinions of us. Thanks to social media, news organisations producing quality content are receiving the recognition they deserve with heightened growth in social referral traffic.  What’s more, social media has given birth to a new form of public sphere, democratizing journalism by allowing users to actively participate in the process.So for the few people out there who are still reluctant to ride the social media wave, this is only one of many purposes that social media serves beyond just socializing. It could even be that social media is the way of the future for journalism.

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