Can news keep pace with social media?


One of the great things about social media is that you can post something and instantly everyone whose interested can see it. It has created a window of opportunity for information to be spread far and spread quickly.

The way I first heard about the tragic shooting at Florida State University was not via CNN or ABC, but on social media. I always check my phone first thing in the morning, not turn on the news right when I wake up (and I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this), so social media sources were how I first heard about what happened.

People who were actually in the library when the shooting took place were sending out texts and tweets, and the news of the incident spread like wild fire across mediums like Facebook, Twitter and even Yik Yak.

There is no way that a journalist could have learned about the event and written an article faster than someone could have written a tweet.

Social media are changing how we get our information in this day and age. Of course, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, so social media don’t have as much credibility as an actual news source, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still getting their information from people posting on the Web.

Social media are changing how reporters do their jobs. Everyone wants information sent directly to their phones right as it is happening. We want everything right now without having to wait.

Reputable news sources are beginning to take advantage of social media and it is shaping the future of journalism.

Social media reconnecting strangers


Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with old friends and, now, one family used the website to re-connect with someone with whom they didn’t even know they had lost contact.

A pair of twins were separated at birth and found each other when one of the twins, Anais Bordier, had a friend show her a YouTube video of a girl that looked exactly like her. After much stalking on the Internet, Bordier found out the girl’s name was Samantha Futerman.

Bordier sent Futerman a Facebook message and friend request and they discovered they had both been adopted from the same South Korean town and had the same birthday. (

It’s a touching, real life Parent Trap-esque story only, instead of meeting at summer camp, social media are what brought the two together.

Not only would the girls not have been able to find each other if it weren’t for the Internet, but the news maybe would not have heard about their story and picked it up.

Journalism is all about using your resources and social media and the Internet are very readily available sources.

Of course, it is always better to get your information directly from the source, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get ideas and leads off of the Internet. CNN, which reported the story, could have heard about the twins’ new organization (Kindred, which works to reunite adoptees with their families,) from somewhere online and then gotten the idea for the story.

As a journalist, it’s important to always keep your eyes open and to use all your resources to their fullest potential, because we live in a world with so much information right at our fingertips.

Are Kylie Jenner’s lips news?


One of the younger members of the infamous Kardashian clan has been grabbing the media’s attention lately. That’s not surprising, considering the reality TV star family has been know to do whatever it takes to stay in the spotlight.

The odd part about it is that the focus is not aimed directly at Kylie Jenner, but at her lips. 

People (who clearly pay way too close of attention to celebrities) have noticed that Jenner’s lips appear much poutier than they did a year ago and are throwing around accusations that the 17-year-old received lip injections.

The story may not be the lead item of the six o’clock news, but it is being covered by sources such as Yahoo!, which millions of people see every day when they go to the site to check their emails (

Even ABC News ran a short follow-up story with Kim Kardashian about her take on the matter (

Whether or not she did actually get lip injections is besides the point. Everyone knows celebrities do ridiculous things to stay beautiful. The Kardaishan family especially is known for their drastic beauty measures.

Take one look at Bruce Jenner’s face, which is more plastic than skin at this point, and you’ll see what I mean; Or, google “Kim Kardashian Vampire Facial” for another example (which was covered by CBS News at one point, no less).

So, this really shouldn’t even be news. Yet, it is. As the digital age makes news so much more readily available, celebrity gossip (and what should, frankly, be considered too much information) is weaving its way from places like “Access Hollywood” into more mainstream and credible news sources.

The FBI impersonates news source


It was recently discovered that, back in 2007, the FBI created a fake news story impersonating the Seattle Times. The bureau’s reasoning behind fabricating the story was that they used a link to the article to catch the suspect responsible for multiple bomb threats to a local high school.

The Seattle Times is now claiming that it is “outraged” by the FBI’s actions. The question on the table now is: Is this matter of dealing with someone’s First Amendment rights?

The FBI did not stop the Seattle Times from printing whatever they choose to, which is typically the issue I always thought the First Amendment was there to protect. However, the key word in that sentence is choose. The Seattle Times did not chose to publish or have their name associated with that story. Instead, the FBI put words into the mouth of the paper.

Should it now be included and made clear that the press has the right to post, or not to post?

It’s questionable whether or not the FBI’s actions infringed on anyone’s First Amendment rights. What is clear, however, is that this information of the FBI’s involvement could impact reader’s opinions of the Seattle Times, and has the potential to discredit the reputation of the news source.

Taking it a step further, if the FBI could so easily do this with one news source, why couldn’t they with other sources?

I don’t believe this incident will lead journalists to begin questioning all sources of news. Still, I think it will raise questions about how the general public knows what is legitimate or not when it comes to news sources and this might make some journalists’ jobs harder.

Journalism sways perceptions of crime


Pointing fingers is easy and it’s easy for journalism to turn to finger pointing. In the past, American journalists have given countries like Russia and China flack for their high incarceration rates. In reality, the U.S. has the overall highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world. (

Not only that, but stories of murders and missing people are all over the news today, and while these stories are certainly newsworthy, they give people the idea that crime is on the rise. Actually, crime in the U.S. has been steadily declining for the past 10 years.

So why do the American people not seem to know these things?

The point of journalism is to inform the public about issues and current events. Incarceration rates in the U.S. is more of an ongoing news story, but it’s still a current event which is rarely talked about.

Crime, on the other hand, is stressed too much, so that the public generally has an incorrect view of what is happening in our country.

I’m not saying journalists shouldn’t report certain things, I think we just need to keep everything in perspective more. Because it’s very difficult to believe that crime rates are dropping, when all you see on the news is another story about a shooting, and it’s hard to believe that we imprison more people per capita than Russia or China when those countries are in the news for how harsh their criminal justice system is.

Since it is the job of journalists to inform the public, I think that some of these facts and statistics I have mentioned should be reported more frequently or updates should be given more frequently, so that the U.S. population has a better idea of how things actually are.

We need to be fact checking photos, too


Part of being a journalist is knowing how to check your facts before you publish an article stating that the facts are true. You make sure they came from a reliable source and, if possible, that other sources agree with this information.

But how do you check the credibility of a photo you want to publish? Do you even need to?

“A pictures worth a thousand words,” the expression goes. So, photos should be showing you what the facts are, because it’s right there on the screen for you to see. However, digital photography and Photoshop are making it nearly impossible to find a photo that has not been edited in some way.

Correcting color, brightness, contrast and other technical details is expected of photographers. These details, however, do not impact the content of the photo, just the quality.

Now, it is so easy for anyone with basic Photoshop skills to edit in something that was not originally there, or erase something that was. This makes it extremely difficult to tell what is real and what is exaggerated.

If you publish a photo that has been altered, you are supposed to specify that the content has been changed, but is it really possible to regulate that? If you find a free domain image you want to attach onto an article, how do you know if it has been altered?

The digital age is making it easier to share and show what’s going on all over the world, but it is also making it harder to believe our own eyes.

Biased journalism blames the victim


By now, most people have heard about the case of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. Around 1 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13, she texted friends saying she was lost. That was the last anyone has heard from her since that day.

Police are still trying to figure out exactly what happened to Hannah and where she is. In just the past few days, they have found a person of interest who is currently in custody.

All of that information can be found by just Googling Hannah’s name. What you will also find when you search for her are articles with titles like, “Missing student Hannah Graham was so drunk she could barely walk, says owner of bar where she was last seen – as man accused of her kidnap appears in court” (

A journalist’s job is to report the news in an unbiased way and giving articles titles such as the one previously listed is anything but unbiased. That title almost shifts the blame onto Hannah. It makes it easier to think “Well, it’s her fault for not being more careful,” when that’s just not the case.

People can come to their own assumptions about her life, but that is not the job of the media. Hannah very well may have been extremely drunk, and there is nothing wrong with articles stating that she had been out that night (because that’s the truth and is part of the story).

However, making that the whole subject of the article detracts from the fact that she is still missing, and they may have found the man who kidnapped her – which is really what’s important.

It’s not the news media’s job to judge her life choices. It’s their job to clearly report what’s happening.

Why do we report celebrity gossip?


All over Internet news sources and on TV broadcasts today, you’ll probably hear something about “Celebrity Phone Hackings! Nude Photos Leaked!” If you stay up to date with current events, there is really no way you did not hear about this. It’s posted everywhere.

Why should we care that Jennifer Lawrence’s phone was hacked, or that Kate Middleton is pregnant, or that Kris and Bruce Jenner are getting a divorce?

There are people who have built their whole career around reporting celebrity gossip (hello, Perez Hilton.) Yet bloggers, gossip columns, and E! News aren’t the only ones talking about celebrities. The story of Kate Middleton’s second pregnancy was featured on ABC’s World News.

It’s a journalist’s job to help inform people about what’s going on in the world and what the public should generally know. Still, journalists also report what they know people want to hear. Most TV news broadcasts will have some type of human interest piece thrown in, and giving people the low down on what’s happening in Hollywood is an easy way to fill that.

If it’s possible to have a whole station like E! News devoted just to stirring up the celebrity rumor mill, clearly enough people want to know what’s happening in celebrities’ lives. But why?

It’s nice to know that celebrities are people, too. They get divorced, they have their phones hacked, they’re caught with drugs and have to go to court. They’re not untouchable.

Not only that, but everyone knows who these celebrities are, and it’s easy to talk about someone you know. The general public probably isn’t going to care if your cousin is being shipped off to rehab (unless there was some weird twist to thicken the plot of the story,) because they don’t know your cousin. It’s sometimes easy to feel like you actually know someone just because you have seen all of their movies, or watched a few of their interviews on daytime television.

As long as people are still tuning in to hear about celebrity news, reporters are still going to talk about it.

Are phones killing photojournalism?


I dare you to find someone who does not have a camera on their phone. With how popular smart phones are, it’s next to impossible. Even my 90-year-old grandpa’s flip phone has a camera on it (not that he knows how to use it).

Since camera phones are so popular, there is usually always someone around who can take a photo of an even right as it happens.

There are a lot more everyday people with camera phones than there are photojournalists. The exact moment when an event occurs, it is much more likely that someone with a camera phone will be there versus a photojournalist waiting to get the shot.

I do not think an amateur with an iPhone will be able to completely replace a professional photojournalist. The quality and composition of a professionally shot photo will never go out of style; People will always want to see that, but it’s not always an option.

If we look back on 9/11 and the coverage of the event, you can find tons of beautifully shot, powerful images expression the horror everyone felt that day, or showcasing the bravery of some American heroes.

However, there are shaky, blurry videos and images shot by people just walking along the street that we are shown over and over again, because these images captured the exact moment that the first plane hit the North Tower.

No one knew this was going to happen, so no professional photojournalists were on assignment or expecting to cover the first tower, like they were for events later than day and week.

Back in 2001, camera phones were not even available. Most of the videos and images of the first tower were shot with digital cameras. If this event occurred 2014 instead of 2001, there would be a lot more coverage because everyone has a camera phone they can just whip out.

Not only are the availability of camera phones decreasing the need for photojournalists, but social media is making it extremely simple to share these images with the world. You no longer need to work for TIME Magazine for everyone to see your photos, you can just share it on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook.

Still, photojournalists will always be needed. There are some places your Average Joe with an iPhone will not be able or willing to go to. There are very few people brave enough to do what James Foley did, for example. However, camera phones are cutting down this need for photojournalists, since they are proving to be better at documenting breaking, unexpected news.

theSkimm: The future of reporting?


In this digital age, there are a million ways to read the news: turn on the TV, go online, download an app, and even check your e-mail. The last option is becoming increasingly popular, with newsletter like “theSkimm” popping up.

theSkimm is a daily newsletter summing up important current events, written in a sassy tone to appeal to their target demographic, city-dwelling females ages 18 to 34.

The newsletter is simple way to stay up to date and the summaries are written in an interesting way that keeps their audience reading about topics they may not otherwise be interested in.

“We are reaching our readers in the way they want to be reached and they are making us a part of their daily routine,” said Danielle Weisberg, co-founder of theSkimm.

The newsletter’s motto is: “We read. You skimm.” This means that you don’t get all the facts. Still, we are a generation that wants everything fast, easy, and now, while needing to put fourth minimal effort to attain it. This is exactly what theSkimm gives you. It comes right to your e-mail’s inbox, so you don’t have to hunt down the information, and gives it to you very short and sweet.

So, is skimming going to become the future of reporting? If quickly reading over short newsletters were to become how everyone reads the news, possibly important information could be lost or withheld from our knowledge. Not every story can be summed up in one nice, little paragraph. More often than not, readers need background information and longer explanations to understand everything that is going on with complicated topics such as politics and foreign affairs.

For now, theSkimm seems to have no plans of taking over the reporting world.

“We’re really not a place for people to go to see breaking news and that’s been a luxury,” Weisberg said in an interview with the Huffington Post (

theSkimm continues to grow in popularity, reaching 500,000 subscribers this past July after existing for only two years. The future of news is changing, and it may be headed in the direction of theSkimm.