Impact of Social Media on Future of Journalism

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Social media breaks news but traditional media is more important today to filter the noise, says Reddit co-founder.

Discussing the effect of social media on the future of journalism at the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit in Dubai, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit lauded social media for bringing breaking news but said traditional media continues to be relevant to build credibility to the online noise.

The 32-year-old, Virginia University graduate founded Reddit upon his graduation, which is now the 10th largest in the US. A platform for communities to come together and discuss anything, Reddit has 10,000 active communities and is one of the major social media platforms today. It is also on course to launch an App this year.

Content is (still) the King. Ohanian on the need to create quality content:

Ohanian said that social media platforms given voice to many individuals who have the opportunity to break news in real time. “Breaking news is no longer exclusive to the domain of news organizations but traditional journalism has become more important in filtering out news from noise.” News vs Noise: Ohanian highlighted the importance of traditional media in weeding out the noise.

Ohanian examined the influence of technology on news adding that new voices are emerging thanks to today’s social media platforms and traditional news outlets are no longer considered as the definitive source.

“News has become more instantaneous, more readily available, in more formats, and on many more devices. This has given the public greater access to differing ideas that challenge the status quo,” he said.

Will robots start writing stories? Ohanian says currently robots are being used to assist journalists – but robots will never replace journalists for the simple reason that robots lack creativity and will not know what to do in the time of a crisis.

In fact, he says we need journalists more than ever to help us contextualise information.

Ohanian’s success formula for countries to succeed: Learn programming! he says coding is the language of literacy today.

Ohanian discussed how Reddit has been designed to empower users to create online communities. The Arabic community has voluntarily come together to create a database of different Arabic dialects by reading pieces of poetry and uploading to the community.

Ohanian concluded with the idea that although the internet has leveled the playing field when it comes to freedom of the press, journalists remain at the forefront of news integrity and filtering the noise.

Katharine Viner, the then deputy editor of the Guardian and editor-in-chief of Guardian Australia, gave the AN Smith lecture in Melbourne back in 2013. Here’s her speech where she talks about the future of journalism and a range of related topics. It’s a must watch video if you are into journalism/reporting.

On 20th March 2015, the Guardian announced that Katharine Viner has been appointed the editor-in-chief, the first woman to run the newspaper in its 194-year history.

Over to you: what are your thoughts on how social media is impacting journalism and shaping news? share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

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