I would go a step further and say that social media incentivizes “journalists” to hop on board the outrage train because that’s what gets clicks and shares. In older times word of mouth may have spread, but social media gives a financial and promotional, brand building incentive to do what I call the foremost principle of fake news — comb through a target’s history to find something, then inflate it with the most outrageous, least charitable interpretation possible (+1 if you’re a “journalist” that can virtue signal to your friends in the profession to keep yourself safe). Your story gets shared more that way. It isn’t a coincidence that hysteria became a pandemic in the media concurrently with the rise of social media. The tank in the trust of the media (now less popular than both Trump and the GOP) is the result. People only have a limited emotional pool and the outrage quickly gets exhausting.
Ironically if the media would just act the way it did even 10 years ago, things wouldn’t be nearly as bad. But, as you would say, social media takes skin out of the game. Why go out and do actual journalism when you can just watch Twitter all day?