“…There is no substitute for first-hand information…” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

We all know that broadcast media has been the main source of information dissemination for the last 90+ years. However, a fundamental shift in the way news and information are disseminated is rapidly occurring. The increased usage of the internet and social media has presented a unique opportunity for people to have a voice in the way information is being dispersed to the populous.

The evolution of technology and the popularity of social media have spawned a new age of journalism called “citizen journalism” that reports information in real time and offers an unbiased assessment of actual events.

Admittedly, some of the unedited reporting is crude and sometimes even cruel to view, especially in cases of vicious school house fights or police brutality videos that are populating the Internet. However, the bottom-up approach encourages bilateral dialogue, and authentically driven content seems to appeal to the everyday individual.

This is especially true of the millennial generation, who comprise over 35 percent of the United States population. The fact that young people can interact, maintain their anonymity and compare information sources empowers them. Young people’s use of “new media” allows them to create a continuous stream of multiple conversations, often interweaving differing media formats, that gives them a strong sense of community. According to youthnet.org, 45 percent of young people say they felt happiest when they were online; 75 percent claimed they couldn’t live without the internet; and 86 percent reported that they loved how technology afforded them the ability to communicate with people.

Digital media offers an opportunity to create content and make connections that would ordinarily be impossible to nurture. People form both loose and close bonds using Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels where they can establish relationships, build trust and form alliances.

Who in our community can we rely on to tell us the truth? In America today, many feel traditional media has become slow, unreliable, cynical, and untrustworthy. They have become too politically and financially motivated and lack the objectivity of true journalism reporting.

I can only speak for myself when I say that aside from political satirists, I get most of my information and news from the internet and social media. I enjoy reading the comment box at the end of articles where consumers voice their opinions on a specific item – that helps me see everyone’s point of view. I also like reading friends’ and followers’ comments on social media and their perception of news that has been shared or posted.

There is a negative correlation between one-way and two-way information flow platforms. No matter how people receive news, it seems to me that if they are unable to engage, their attention span is relatively low. That, in turn, directly affects their confidence in the news or information being broadcast.

Some data suggest that millennial are weary of traditional news sources and would prefer to curate their own content for public consumption. While the public’s confidence remains low in newspapers, the internet and television alike, the internet has to be given consideration for being a relatively new venue to broadcast news and information.

According to Gallup, engagement remains relatively high on social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It could be that the internet, social media and citizen journalist news is more appealing than traditional news sources. It could be that too much politics is in play with traditional media. Possibly people just want to have a say about what is transpiring in their daily lives. Or maybe they would prefer to create their own content instead of being merely a projection of a sample set in the latest poll that could or couldn’t align with their personal beliefs or views on a particular issue.

Uncertainty remains about whether digital media will permanently overtake traditional media to become the primary source of obtaining news and information, but it is certainly a likely possibility. It is inherent in our genetics that we are inclined to be socially interactive, which makes the internet and social media an ideal platform for expressing ourselves by creating and curating our own content. It has given us the opportunity to engage with each other in a manner that is more aligned with our natural disposition.

By Bobby Sydnor, Graduate Student

Master of Arts in Emerging Media

Loyola University Maryland

This entry was posted in Mainstream Media, Social Media, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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