Anyone can post anything that they want on the internet, regardless if it's true. We saw big problems with this with the spread of fake news on social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Fake news increased distrust for journalism, a field that has already been struggling due to the decline of newspapers and television. While this is certainly a big blow for journalism right now, it isn't a fatal one.
Social media has made it extremely easy to spread false information, but it has also made it easy to spread the truth. Finding details for stories and topics for new stories is so much easier for journalists thanks to social media. It's hard not to come across story ideas when you open up Facebook or Twitter.
Sure, people do post things that aren't true, but journalists can fact-check using other information found on social media sites and from different sources. Even though sifting through a ton of posts is time consuming and can be a lot of work, having extra information is never a bad thing. Also, if there is something that journalists miss or make a mistake on, social media makes it so much easier for readers/listeners to let everyone know.
Social media allows for direct contact between audiences and journalists. This can be helpful when journalists are looking for specific information or when people have something to share, be it corrections, tips or personal opinions.
Additionally, social media let's us get our news so much faster than we ever have. Journalists and news outlets are constantly posting story updates online. This makes it so much easier for people to get their news on the go (or while laying in bed). News alerts on smart phones also make sure that we don't miss any breaking news. I know that I am much more informed now than I ever have been because I use social media to get my news.
Like with any new medium, social media poses unique problems for journalism. I think that journalism will overcome these issues and be better off. Technology is constantly changing, so in the future there will be something that overtakes social media as a primary way people get news, but what could possibly edge out social media? We're just going to have to wait and keep an open mind.
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