The way mass media is produced has been a topic of discussion since it was first introduced in the late 1400s in Germany. As centuries passed by, the evolution of mass media has impacted its audience dramatically, especially with the rise of technology. Technology has transformed the way people acquire their current events, whether it be local or international news. Broadcast and print media have developed in a way that grants anyone in possession of a smartphone, laptop or tablet the title “Journalist”. This concerns me because as a student who pays large amounts of money to eventually secure that title, what would be the difference between a person behind a laptop who’s never taken a course in anything media-related and me?
Journalism is a career field that entails writing for news outlets or other informative media outlets.
A person who is qualified to do such a thing would be called a journalist, this means that the journalist has fact-checked the information that they are publishing.
Whereas, someone who is not qualified to officially be called a journalist does not have the proper tools to get out helpful information to the public. Some information put online can often be used to create controversy which is why trusting sites that don’t use professional journalists can be difficult. People who want to be properly informed on daily news try to stay away from fake news …however that’s what social media tends to promote.
Media has the potential to create mass chaos or to calm the masses especially with the popularity of social media. News networks have their own social media and so do the journalists that work there. Anyone who uses social media will be bombarded with constant reposts of news stories and videos, it would be difficult for anyone in the modern world not to consume some type of news. As a social media user, I also get a majority of my news from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I just go about it a different way, I notice if the post has a credible source posted rather than just taking the information from an unknown source and being satisfied. It is unfortunate because everyone who comes across posts of a current event without any credible source doesn’t automatically think to search for the correct story.
On January 26, 2020, TMZ reported that Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. The news of the legendary basketball player’s sudden death spread among social media which caused chaos and aroused various questions. From my own experience following the news on twitter, I watched as my dashboard was filled with people saying that Bryant’s whole family was on the helicopter or that Rick Fox, a retired basketball player also died in the crash. The original source of these accusations was from an ABC News correspondent who stated that all four of Bryant’s children were involved in the crash when in fact his oldest daughter Gianna Bryant was the only one involved. This caused many fans and social media users to be upset, which they should be in my opinion. News outlets such as ABC News are looked at as reliable sources and when they broadcasted such sensitive news to be false, that breaks the trust that the audience has with the news outlet. I would also like to point out that TMZ, although not the most credible source all the time, was the most accurate at the time of the breaking news.
I understand people make mistakes and that is perfectly fine as long as you take accountability for them and try your best to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In this particular case, I feel that the correspondent who reported such sensitive news should have done some more research. The breaking news in Bryant’s death was one that really highlighted the way many media outlets focus on who can get out the news first rather than who can get out the most accurate story without misinformation. I watched in real-time how misinformation of a story can create chaos and the damage it is capable of.
People that use social media for their news source should not always trust the source without fact-checking for themselves. According to The Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, (AACE), There are bots and people who make fake profiles to spread misinformation and sometimes create it. Truthfully, this isn’t something that is new, technology has just advanced enough so that we can finally see what is happening and how misinformation is spread.
I feel as though journalists and newspapers are trying to keep up with ordinary people and their ability to report news just as they would. The focus should not only be on reporting breaking news first but to focus on continuously fact-checking any information when broadcasting it. There also needs to be a form of regulation for spreading news, which can be a bit difficult based on the fact that it could be on the edge of violating an American’s first amendment rights.
Until then, everyone is a fucking journalist.