October 15, 2016
Facebook has managed to not only become our source of news but also the news source provider. I know that sounds like the same thing, but let me explain how they are completely different and shaping the future of journalism.
I recently attended an event hosted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and a question was posed to Gary Cunliffe, the new director of CBC Edmonton, about how social media has impacted journalism. “Well”, he paused… “social media has allowed us to find out about a breaking story at 4 pm and have a full story with interviews, photos and video clips by 5 pm ready for television news”. Today the ‘breaking news’ occurs on Facebook and journalists have to sift through information posted online to build a story. Thus, the news source platform has become the source to also find that very news.
Gone are the days of loading equipment up and hauling it down the highway and hoping someone else doesn’t beat you to the story. Today, through the power of Facebook all the information required for a breaking story can be ‘crowd-sourced’ from the public. Facebook has given CBC the ability to not only easily find people who are on location but access to ask for an interview or permission to use photographs. In turn, the CBC can have a packaged news story ready for primetime television in 1 hour!
However, ‘buyer beware’ because often ‘breaking news stories’ can be nothing but a mere hoax from attention seekers. All though, journalists have already learnt how to adapt to their constantly changing environment! Thanks to tools embedded into Google chrome, users can gather metadata of a particular photo that provides a time-stamp and the geo-tag location. This allows information on Facebook to be ‘double-sourced’ at the click of a button.
But have these innovations made journalism easier or harder? As illustrated by CBC, “news used to be a magnet that everyone would be attracted to and now the news has to attract people instead”. So, I ask you if Facebook makes journalism easier does it really make it better?