MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Social Media Disrupting Broadcast News?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, September 22, 2011

Social media has been at the forefront of many major events over the past few years. Flight 1549 landing on the Hudson River, the Arab uprisings this past spring, Hurricane Irene's path up the U.S. east coast are just a few. Some might argue that social media has displaced broadcast news as the primary source for immediate news.  They may be right, especially if thinking about the youth audience.  However, broadcast news is not in competition with social media, they are incorporating social media into all aspects of their operations.  The important factor for both social media outlets and broadcast news is that - news is immediate!

Newsrooms recognize this and are leveraging social media for news gathering, public opinion and new content.  Many newsrooms, such as the BBC, have implemented User Generated Content teams to monitor, validate and incorporate news generated on social sites to complement their broadcasts.  Differentiating between fact, fiction, rumor and speculation are the challenges of social news gathering.  (Just consider today's rumors about the potential replacement of HP CEO Leo Apotheker with HP Board Member and former EBay CEO) Meg Whitman.  Newsrooms around the globe are monitoring and listening to online and social news outlets not only to gather news, but to understand how their own news is being received and interpreted.  Social media can provide them with guidance on how to present news, while still maintaining journalistic integrity.

The other opportunity social media presents to broadcasters is the ability to distribute their content to a wider audience, that may not watch their scheduled broadcasts.  In fact, many premium news outlets, such as CNN or the BBC,  recognize the different characteristics of those watching their broadcasts vs. consuming news online vs. following them on Twitter or Facebook.  The ability to share news directly and indirectly (as happens in the social arena) provides news organizations with greater influence.  That influence comes with an ongoing responsibility for impartiality, truth in reporting and meaningful storytelling. 

News content will never go away.  News is now available via apps on your tablet on smartphone.  These devices will again create incremental impact in the presentation of news, if not the actual content.  News will continue to be immediate and relevant because of its immediacy.  News gathering organizations will not disappear as long as they continue to evolve and capitalize on the complementary nature of social and whatever comes next.

What's your perspective?