Research Project: Communication Technology in Journalism

Most people think of technology as an entity that has shaped the world humans live in.  Technology can be thought of as a positive and negative in that aspect. However, not many relate technology to the way that human connect, interact and communicate with one another.  Through new communication technology, socializing with people—near and far—has become easier than ever, specifically through social media sites. Additionally, this new-found source of communication has evolved the way people receive their news.  Newspapers and magazines are, essentially, the thing of the past. More and more social media users are looking to social media—specifically Twitter—to find the latest trends, events and worldly news.

Twitter was originally started as a podcasting company—Odeo.  The company switched tactics after Apple—a company that specializes in creating quality cellphones and laptops—scared Odeo away from podcasts, when they began releasing podcasts on iTunes, a music sales site.  Following the scare, Odeo launched their social media website used for microblogging—also known as Twitter—in 2006 as “a social network and real-time communication service,” according to Social Media Today’s article, Twitter 101: What is Twitter Really About.  The social network was used as a quick way for organizations to share and find information.  Twitter is popular, because of its brief bouts of text allowed for users. At its start, Twitter only allowed 140 character to express thoughts.  Today, the number has increased to provide more information. “Twitter was able to disrupt traditional point-to-point messaging systems like email by providing this one-to-many interface for rapid content delivery and search,” explains Social Media Today.  “But Twitter has evolved from more than just a real-time communication tool into one of the world’s leading sources of social discovery and newsworthy events.” With this newly discovered form of receiving news, journalist had to adapt to meet the expectations and demands of news enthusiasts and social media users.

Journalism has become a dying career choice for students.  The field has received a lot of bad publicity due to constant need for journalists to find the next big story, rushing to get information or jumping to conclusions.  The stories that are published become public for everyone to see, so when there are misconstrued or misinformed articles published, the public feels that their right to know has been compromised.  With the need for fast journalism and the ability to give information quickly without, necessarily, needing to publish a full article, Twitter became a new way for journalists to give their viewers what they want.

Millenials are essentially changing the way people are getting their news.  Twitter has evolved with this generation of social media users to accommodate their news needs, while providing a platform for journalists to reach these users.  Twitter has allowed for a closer connection with users and the media, which has given greater insight to what readers are looking for. The article Twitter, Journalism and Affective Labour explains this concept further.

“The development of an organic relationship with followers, the emergence of stronger bonds between core groups that then become communities, the extension of care and help to the network, are all evidence of the importance of this biopolitical productivity and point to the construction of a new and potentially more radical sociopolitical role for journalism.”

The relationship built between Twitter users and journalists has created a network and community that has rebuilt the desire for news.  This sense of connection has renewed news and the journalistic field, which is restoring faith in the art.

Additionally, Twitter has become a source for political movements and awareness for crisis situations.  For example, recently there was a “Black Lives Matter” movement, which was plastered all over the social media network.  Through the use of hashtags, which devices used to link topics together with keywords or phrases, the movement was able to expand to the world within hours.  Furthermore, in 2011 Wisconsin found itself in the midst of a political movement about labor laws.

According to “Time, place, technology: Twitter as an information source in the Wisconsin labor protests,” there were more than 775,000 tweets with the hashtag #wiunion that circulated around Twitter in a three week time period.  The article also addressed the use of mobile versus computer usage. The data found from the movement said that mobile users of Twitter were more likely to be present at the protest, opposed to computer users. In addition, “mobile users post fewer URLs overall; however, when they do, they are more likely to link to traditional news sources and to provide additional hashtags for context,” explains the article.  Ultimately, all source linkage—mobile or stationary—will decline as the movement continues, or ages.

Twitter’s prominence in news has also changed the amount of news people receive every day.  News is no longer a once-a-day entity, but is something seen hourly—sometimes even live as events take place.  “Reporters make minute-by-minute decisions on what they publish and who reads it, versus the old days when a small group of editors held that power over what went into the next day’s paper,” explains an Illinois News Bureau journal.  News has developed from a morning read, to an entity of immediacy when something arises. For example, there have been a lot of mass shootings in the news lately. A more highly publicized shooting was the Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy.  The event took place on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were fatally wounded in the mass shooting, with others being critically injured. This was one of the deadliest school shootings—some even calling it a massacre. During this horrifying event, news mediums were taking to Twitter to provide live coverage of what was taking place at the school.  This gave people around the country access to information about the students, staff and gunman at the school. Twitter has enabled journalists to keep readers up-to-date with around 140 characters and a click of a button.

Journalism has always been a pretty straightforward job.  They are suppliers of news and facts—and they are writers and editors.  The use of Twitter as an additional news source has allowed journalists to expand their job description from writers and editors to social media experts and real-time reporters.  Nowadays, social media is a job of its own, but there are some newsroom and companies that rely on their journalists to do the jobs in addition to their long list of responsibilities.  

This can be a major struggle for some journalists who have been in the industry for many years.  “Constantly having to adapt to new and improved technology is part of the job,” says Carrie Mantey, editor of Green Industry Pros magazine at AC Business Media. “But I’ve been in the industry for almost 30 years, and social media is just another job I have to do. It’s just more work.”  Journalists have a lot of responsibility, so it can be hard to balance their jobs as traditional news writers and editors—adding in social media work can be overwhelming. Often times, news organizations will add in new jobs for the social media position. This can help alleviate some of the stresses of adding on job responsibilities.

Although there are some journalists who feel that social media is hindering news, there are others who feel that it is helping the industry whole—despite the added work involved. Katie Therian, marketing manager at Topcon Agriculture, says she does the job of two—journalists and social media—but finds that Twitter allows the company to get immediate feedback from the viewers and Twitter users. “The world of hard copy newspapers and magazines is in the past,” says Therian. “It’s time to embrace the resources that we are given.”

Since the evolution Twitter has seen from social media site to a focus on news, the social media site has seen an increase in the number of users on the platform. This increase includes reporters and news businesses, but also people looking to find news from the non-traditional sources. “Twitter provides an information distillery for journalists and all consumers because you can tailor what you follow instead of weeding through a thicket of news each day” (News Bureau). The social media platform has become a more accurate way for journalists to view their user insights and calculate the reach they have on the public. “Journalists like to know that someone is reading their work, and Twitter provides the instant gratification of building a following around the globe.” Additionally, journalists and news sources are able to decide who can see what they are posting, which takes their reach beyond just their subscribers. Furthermore, subscribers are able to retweet and share the information the deem important, interesting or newsworthy, which in turn creates a greater spread of information. Twitter has become the ultimate source of new communication technology.

Another unique influence Twitter has on journalists is the ability for writers and editors to create a name and platform for themselves away from their employers. This is important, because journalists are likely to work for several news organizations in the course of their career. Twitter serves as a permanent portfolio that future employers can access to determine if the person is right for the job. Additionally, freelance journalistic work has become increasingly popular as a result of Twitter’s growing news appeal.

The advantage Twitter has over other social media sites is the amount of reach it has. People look at the number of users on Facebook versus Twitter, and assume that Facebook would be the logical choice to post a news article. However, the Berkeley Advanced Media Institute would argue that opposite. “Twitter has a much wider reach—everything you post can potentially be seen by the whole world. While Facebook has a “share” function that lets people repeat things others have said, it’s not used nearly as often as Twitter’s “retweet” function” (Twitter for Journalists). The article continues by explaining that Twitter is a news and information amplifier, which is why the spread of information is so much greater than other social media platforms—the site boosts information, rather than replacing it with new information.

Technology has become a part of human society. It is no longer a surprising new concept that people are constantly buzzing about. New creations are made, but the excitement and hype over a once incredibly amazing entity has died down. This is not because the products created are not innovative and exceptional, but because humans are used to living in a world of technology. Particularly, a world of communication technology.

Since the creation of social media, humans have seen a change in how people are interacting with each other. Specifically in terms of news, humans have seen a rise, fall and rise-again. Twitter has aided in the rehabilitation of news, and how people are receiving their information. Journalists have adapted to this new form news production—some begrudgingly, but others willingly—and have seen an impressive spike in people demanding more news. New communication technology has been beneficial in many ways in which humans interact, but has been especially helpful to the dying profession and entity, which is news.

Work Cited

Chamberlain, C. (2015). News Bureau | ILLINOIS. [online] News.illinois.edu. Available at: https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/267046

Groshek, & Tandoc. (2017). The affordance effect: Gatekeeping and (non)reciprocal journalism on Twitter. Computers in Human Behavior, 66, 201-210.

Hacker, S. and Seshagiri, A. (2014). Twitter for Journalists – Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. [online] Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. Available at: https://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/twitter/  

Lee, Kim, & Sang. (2017). How do journalists leverage Twitter? Expressive and consumptive use of Twitter. The Social Science Journal, 54(2), 139-147.

Siapera, E. and Iliadi, I. (2015). Twitter, Journalism and the Affective Labour. Sur le Journalisme.

Veenstra, A., Iyer, N., Delwar Hossain, M. and Park, J. (2014). Time, place, technology: Twitter as an information source in the Wisconsin labor protests. Computers in Human Behavior, 31, pp.65-72.

Zeevi, D. and Zeevi, D. (2013). Twitter 101: What is Twitter Really About?. [online] Social Media Today. Available at: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/twitter-101-what-twitter-really-about

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