The Gatekeeper of Current Events: Social Media

There’s no denying the fact that the majority of people today are swapping out their newspapers for apps on tablets and smartphones. Gone are the days of families gathering around the television for the “evening news,” as social media has become the main source for individuals looking to gain insight into the happenings of the world. With over 68% of adults embracing social media as a viable source for news, these platforms have certainly changed the dynamic of current events altogether.

The Great Race

The pace of the news cycle is something that has evolved with time and social media has only perpetuated the rate at which news travels. As a result, readers expect to receive news as it happens and news outlets are constantly competing to be the source that breaks the most noteworthy stories. Although the 24/7 news cycle keeps the public in tune with what is happening in the world in real time, it also has the potential to promote inaccurate information, resulting in the need to consistently update stories as they develop. Through the use of social media, news outlets are able to quickly revise stories and post updates across platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, ensuring the public is reading the most up to date information.

Viral News

Within the last decade, as social media has developed into the main source for news consumption, current events appear to have steered toward “trending” news and away from actual news. Top news, which once would have been strictly defined by important events that are happening in the world around us, have now taken on a new meaning as Internet memes and viral tweets often steal the spotlight from both political news and worldly affairs. In presenting news in a different format than before, social media has entirely changed the context of what is valued as current events. Further, with the ease in sharing news using social channels, the public essentially “decides” what is newsworthy based on the level of engagement a piece receives.

Short and Sweet

The nature of social media is concise, which is something that has been adopted by news outlets promoting their stories via this channel. People no longer wish to read paragraphs and paragraphs of a news story, rather gaining an understanding of the topic from the news headline alone. Moreover, many news outlets have adopted a minimal text approach by creating multimedia content, as opposed to long-form journalism. Social media has allowed people to receive brief updates through various platforms on the news around them without taking the time to read an entire news article. Plus, the use of push notifications and alerts provide short soundbites to people, as they happen, letting news be consumed in a quick fashion.

Although the nature in which news is presented may have taken on various new forms throughout the last decade, there is still a strong desire to maintain awareness of all things current, which is now accomplished through the convenience of social media consumption.

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