Sociology and the media

Published: 2019-10-15 07:30:00
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The use of social media has gained momentum over years, and the majority of the people in the society access social media every day. This is considering that there are various forms of social media, and some people have joined the same even involuntarily. They range from blogs, Facebook, tweeter, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Many people now have no time to watch or listen to the traditional media such as television and radio or the newspapers where information is more controlled. While there are benefits of the same, there are adverse consequences associated with the same. The aim of this research paper is to evaluate how the social media has swallowed the news in the modern society and has threatened the funding of the public interest news. The social media does not affect the journalism profession only but goes beyond this, and this report explains why this is the case.

First, the social media has swallowed the news because people do not have to wait until the news hour to get an update of what is happening. When an event happens, there are people in such a place who take pictures and describe the event as it happens. Once such information is posted on the social media, it is shared widely within minutes. Such updates reach individuals within minutes, and they do not have to go to places where the incident occurred. People have no reason to watch or listen to news updates from the traditional media to get news. This is why the social media is said to be swallowing the news.

It can also be interpreted in a different way because when events occur, they may be exaggerated before they are posted. This means that whatever is posted is misleading to the members of the public. The problem is that the social media updates may be more believed as opposed to the traditional media news. The difference between the social media and traditional media is that there was some kind of control in the traditional media to ensure that whatever is reported is authentic and based on facts (Viner, 2016). This is not the case with the social media where everyone presents different facts, and this leads to a confused society. This can be very dangerous for the society that needs accurate information to make the right decisions.

It should be noted that the traditional media is compelled to also report misleading news updates, and this causes greater confusion. What the traditional media do such as television is that they report what is said in the social media and quote the social media as the source of the information. As long as the information reaches the members of the public, they have no reason to doubt, and this is a great problem in case individuals make decisions based on the information that is received (Naughton, 2016).

The funding of public interest reporting has already been threatened because organizations that wish to fund programs that educate the public on important issues do not think that it is a viable idea. The reason is that many people are not likely to be listening or watching such programs, and there will be fewer benefits as compared to the costs. Additionally, the traditional media has lost the funding from advertisements that are also important in ensuring that there is reporting for the public interests (Conn, 2016). This trend has greatly affected the media companies all over the world, and there is a need for a proper strategy to ensure that the media companies survive in the wake of the social media use.

In the media fraternity, the effects have been adverse. The revenues that the traditional media generate have fallen greatly since the companies that advertise with the companies have realized that the media reaches less population than before. They instead prefer advertising through the social media which is cheaper and reaches a greater population. The traditional media companies have been forced to reduce the number of its employees as a way of cutting down on the costs or even closing some of the subsidiaries. Many journalists cannot find a job because the demand for such people has reduced greatly. However, freelance journalism is well paying for those who manage to get a great number of followers. Such individuals can get contracts to make advertisements on their walls and are paid very well. The problem is that such journalists may not necessarily be trained (Naughton, 2016). This means that the society now receives news from journalists who are not specialists in the area, and this is very dangerous. Such journalists do not understand any professional ethics and many families now suffer because of this.

The era when media was run by monopolies has been brought to an end because of the social media. In some countries, the government has great control over the media and means that the public members may not be aware of whatever is happening in the government and in the rest of the world. This is no longer the case because the social media has availed various ways of ensuring that people get news as they happen. The problem is that some of the social media do not give facts and instead spread propaganda that is easy to believe, and this can be disastrous.

The social media journalists are aware of what people like most and are keen to ensure that they provide the same to the public. Such kind of reporting does not benefit the public in any way. Instead, they end up getting rumors and propaganda that is wrong and does not benefit them in any way. Such journalists are after generating traffic and making money from the same. They do not care about passing the right information to the members of the public. Since it is difficult to trace those spreading the news, it becomes very difficult to ensure that journalists are accountable to the mistakes that they make by spreading wrong information that hurt the society (The Guardian, 2015).

The harm that the social media has extended to the society and is not limited to the area of journalism. This can be explained through various examples. The society has been misleading in various incidences to make the wrong decisions. Facts have been countered by propaganda making the society make the wrong decisions. A recent example is the vote by the United Kingdom citizens who were deceived by a few people to vote for Brexit. While the prime minister and the ruling government provided facts to the people through various forms of social media, this was countered by the opposition that convinced the people that exiting the European Union was the best decision that they should have made. The information spread rapidly as it was shared through the various platforms and majority of the people in the UK voted for the exit because they received the rumors (Viner, 2016). When the results were out, the leave team was unprepared and was not aware of how they would leave the European Union. Many of the UK citizens now regret why they made the choice, though it is already too late to reverse the decision (The Guardian, 2015).

The example shows how the social media can make the citizens decide wrongly because of the misleading social media. In Australia, it is possible to use the social media to campaign for a leader who is not able to meet the peoples interests. The question is how such activities can be eliminated. It is easy to taint the image of leaders as well as private individuals like it happened with the UK prime minister. In the case, the social media reported that the prime minister had put his private part in the mouth of a dead pig. This meant that he was engaging in some kind of a ritual. This damaged the reputation of the prime minister, and he could not do anything about it regardless of whether it was untrue. The news was discussed even in the traditional media, and this only caused greater confusion (Saperstein, 2014). It also happens to individuals, and whoever tries to defend themselves, it even causes greater problems.

The social media has been used to trap the youths by dangerous groups. They create their own news and then spread them to their target audience with the aim of convincing them to join their groups. This is how the terrorist groups are reaching and convincing youths to join their groups. While the traditional media try to persuade the youths not to join the groups, many of them all over the world are not listening and instead are in the social media. This calls for an urgent response to the trend to save the society.

The social media has already proved to be dangerous to the operations of the various governments. While the governments make mistakes, it is possible to incite the people through the social media against the government, and this can lead to a disaster in such a country. This is why some countries have considered banning the use f social media among their citizens (Rose, 2015). While some governments have bad intentions of doing the same, some of them have genuine reasons of banning the social media.

Having looked at the various changes in journalism all associated with the emergence of the social media, it is important to evaluate the future of journalism. The question is how people will be getting news in the future and how the media companies in the world will adjust to meet the needs of the society hence survive the industry (Saperstein, 2014).

First, the media companies should be prepared to face many legal suits for reporting misleading information. Whenever they gather information from social media and report it to the people leading to defamation, they should be ready to deal with the consequences of the same. More specifically, they should be prepared to pay fines when individuals report the cases to the courts (Mahoney, 2014). This is considering that it is always difficult to trace the source of the information in the social media.

The need to regulate the media is ever growing, and this should be extended to the social media. There will be a need to license the freelance journalists so that whenever they post anything that is not factual, they are held accountable. While this may be difficult to achieve, the use of relevant technologies will be very important in bringing order to the media society. This can be a good alternative as opposed to banning the use of social media (Alvin, n.d).

The traditional media society has to rebrand itself again and change its strategies to ensure that it remains in the media industry. They have to brand themselves as the only media that offer news that are based on facts and not rumors. This should be accompanied by using the online platforms to keep the people informed as events occur. This will eliminate the need to keep people waiting until a particular time when the news is broadcasted. The governments may also be compelled to monitor the social media so that whenever there is misleading information, the same can always be clarified on a timely manner before it spreads to a great extent (Bunz, 2009).

In conclusion, the social media has adversely affected the traditional media, leading to loss of revenues and sometimes legal suits due to reporting unverified information from the social media. The fact that many people have access to social media means that dangerous and malicious information can be easily spread. The traditional media has to be rebranded to assure the people that it can provide instant updates to the members of the society as well as avail only facts and not misleading information. This is the only way to ensure that the people have access to the right information that they need (Bakhurst, 2011). The government in such a case will not have a reason to censor the social media as there will be a clear way of ensuring that the public is not misled. However, there will also be a need to register the online journalists as a way of ensuring that the whenever they engage in unprofe...

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