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Has Social Media Ruined Journalism?

This is a question that may never be fully answered due to the multiple forms of journalism that keep popping up all the time. As we all know because of Facebook, Twitter and all other blogging websites, Journalism is no longer bound to just print and radio. Many “old school” journalists believe these new social media networks are butchering the art of journalism because credibility and accuracy are no longer needed to write news. Anybody can post anything they want at anytime, and anyone who chooses to look can see what has been written.

Being an under-grad Journalism student, I am taking full advantage of the classes that are required for my major, but there is a common opinion throughout the student body and faculty that our time in the classroom is not as important as our time in the field. That may be the case for other fields besides Journalism, but it is true in journalism for a different reason. Journalism is now a multi-platform field and whoever gets to a story first is ultimately the person who ‘wins’. The basic interviewing tactics, inverted pyramid writing and writing in the Associated Press style are all skills that must be taught by professors, but everything else can be learned in the field.

In my opinion, sites like Twitter have helped Journalism in one way: writing leads. A lead is generally a 30-word paragraph stating the most important facts of a story that will lure a reader or viewer into learning about the entire story. What better way to learn how to condense a huge story than to Tweet about it? You are forced to put the most important details into 140 characters or else you won’t have anything to say. While grammar, accuracy and credibility are not required on Twitter, they are still forcing you to get to a story first and get the message out quickly.

One point that is hard to dispute is that those who make the news are now able to report it as well, and that is putting many journalists at risk of losing their job. For example, if an NBA player has just been traded in a huge deal that no fans could see coming, he could break the biggest sports story of the season by simply sending out a tweet. That story could have made a journalist’s year, but instead it was sent out for free by an athlete who was trying to get his brand more exposure.  Many people can appreciate the beauty in knowing right away. Fans want to be part of athletes’ lives, and Twitter may be as close as they can get, but getting to a story first has now become even more challenging. You are not just competing with other journalists anymore, you are competing with those in the story.

Of course, Journalists such as Gay Talese, Rick Reilly and Mike Lupica, who all shifted toward long-form journalism at one point in their careers, have not been affected by social media as much as reporters for a newspaper. Long-form journalism is generally more reflective and detailed, and less about getting there first.

You can now make the case that a journalist is anybody who has ever tweeted, blogged or had a Facebook status. The traditional print journalist no longer exists. Almost all journalists are on Twitter and letting the public know what they are seeing as they are seeing it. Journalism has not died—as many think it has—it has just begun to adapt to the new era.

The competition in the field of journalism is like never before. Those who are trying to break into the profession must be willing and able to contribute to all forms of media. Social media has raised journalism to an all-time high.

Joe Gentile offers his opinions as well as his experience with writing for NY Nissan dealers and many more, especially those offering online classifieds.

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Thursday, 08 December 2022
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