How is the increasing use of social media as a news source affecting journalism?

As the digital age continues to provide us with advancements to smartphones, the device has become more ingrained in daily life. People can now use one piece of equipment for almost all their daily needs. As more people spend more time on smartphones, social media use also increases. The journalism industry has attempted to take advantage of this through an active social media presence of their own, as well as partnerships with the major social media platforms.

Screenshot of the Snapchat Discover feature on October 3, 2016 — Source: Snapchat

The ease of access to news via social media today has made the way news is delivered much more important than ever before. To capture a reader’s attention and maintain that, the piece must be engaging and more than just a slab of text. Multimedia journalism is transforming from small part of the journalism field to the expectation for news articles.

Features such as Facebook Live, which I wrote about here, as well as Snapchat’s Discover feature which promotes publisher’s content with images and videos, have developed outlets another avenue to deliver content. These avenues are very different to traditional news stories. They focus on multimedia elements and usually incorporate greater interaction.

While Twitter changed the news breaking landscape with its short character limit and instant method of delivery, it has its limitations when attempting to deliver greater analysis. Hyperlinks take you to another website, which can be time consuming and sometimes are not in a compatible format.

An example of the typical Twitter link that takes the reader offsite — Source: Twitter (Adrian Wojinarowski)

A recent development designed to make articles more accessible is Instant Articles by Facebook — which, according to Facebook, loads 10x faster, are read 20% more than regular links and are 70% less likely to be abandoned and are ‘interactive and immersive’.

Although clickbait will always be a factor in the digital journalism landscape, the competition created by greater access to news is increasing the level of interesting and engaging content. However, the need for speed in publishing has already lowered journalism standards, and as speed becomes more and more important, fact checking seems to move lower down the priority list.