By: Kayleigh MacKay
New media have undoubtedly had a noticeable effect on the coverage of major world events; they have given us a chance to see world events in a very different way. Social media have made it possible to bring news stories from a local to international stage; certain events have been covered in ways that they would not have been with traditional media.
New media had a profound affect on the Arab Spring, for example. The revolution was led largely by young people, who used social media to get their message out to the international community. A relative of Mohamed Bouazizi (the man whose self-immolation sparked the uprisings) described the Arab Spring as “constituted of people with ‘a rock in one hand, a cell phone in the other’” (Nezar & Guvenc, 2013, p.2025). He explains how the protesters could demonstrate all they want, but “without videos no one would take any notice of [them]” (Nezar & Guvenc, 2013, p. 2025). The uprisings were brought to the attention of the world by the people who were directly affected by it.
Bringing viewers so much closer to these news stories has made the news a lot more personal. Looking back at the Fort McMurray Wildfires, the event seemed so much closer because we were seeing the events unfold in real time, through the eyes of the people who were actually experiencing it. News of the fires was covered around the world; the wide coverage of the event may have been due to the startling videos of those fleeing the fires.
These two events show us how new media have allowed us to experience world news events in ways that were not available through traditional media.
AlSayyad, Nezar & Guvenc, Muna (2013) Virtual Uprisings: On the Interaction of New Social Media, Traditional Media Coverage and Urban Space during the ‘Arab Spring’