How are you getting your news? Are you still tuning in to television news every night at 5, 6 or 11 to see what’s happening? Maybe you check your smart phone apps for updates or have an RSS feed from one of the news services on your computer or from a homepage with daily updates on your laptop.
Not only is the Internet changing the way we get our news, it is also changing what is news. Trending topics on Twitter are only a drop in the bucket of how people are finding out about what is going on. Think about it. How did you first learn about the earthquake that rattled Mexico and California yesterday? Was it on television or on the web? Yahoo! had it posted on its homepage news next to a video of a puppy eating his supper in a handstand.
Maybe someone texted you to let you know about it. A few moments after the earthquake hit, there were numerous tweets about it on Twitter, some from regular people, others from bona fide news organizations. One person tweeted that they knew about the 7.2 quake before it was on television because it happened while they were on Twitter, and Twitter is faster than standard news channels. But is it reliable? It would seem so. Tweeters are not shy about challenging or calling out others that make unreliable or false posts. They are policing their own.
There is no question that social media is changing the way we receive our news and what we view as news. Oddly enough, what may not normally be considered news is becoming just that as a byproduct of social media and “ real” news organizations like CNN trying to stay in the fray.
A guy trying to balance a stack of quarters on his elbow and catch them for a new world record made CNN as a result of videotaping his attempt just as the quake struck. Would this have even been news to CNN two years ago? Probably not. But the classic news hound was on top of the story, and other social media and news outlets were also there to question whether the quarter flipper’s timing was legitimate or not.
Information literally at our fingertips is changing our values of what is important and what is not. We can be touched by everything on Twitter and Facebook at a moment’s notice. It takes time for it to show up on television and radio. We get our advertising, news and updates on our friends all in one place – social media websites. You can find out about the latest NFL trade, the weather report and where to find the best taco in town all from the comfort of your phone, laptop or desktop. But regardless of where you get it, it’s what you do with that information that matters.
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