Journalism and social media’s influence


This September has been a great news month for many journalists. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has captured more towns and oil fields in Syria and President Barack Obama has made an executive decision to soon deploy troops into the area to fight ISIS. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to spread and the president made executive decision after the ISIS news to deploy troops to the area to “fight” the disease.

However, I heard more about certain news stories than others and I can’t help to think that the result was from social media. I saw more articles and think pieces on both NFL stars Ray Rice, who was accused of domestic violence, and Adrian Peterson, who is facing child abuse charges, than any of the executive decisions that President Barack Obama made and many other political policy news.

Is it because they monitor what people are talking about on social media and chase the more dramatic, sensationalist stories in order to sell papers and get page clicks?

The “trending meter” on Twitter and Facebook are important tools for a journalist. They can see what people are talking about from a regional, national and worldwide standpoint. I sat and monitored what people were talking about on twitter these past two weeks, and I saw more tweets about the athletes than tweets about politics.

Why is it that generally we are more concerned about scandals than issues that can directly affect our nation? Because we are more concerned about these shocking events, stories about national government issues are being flooded out by the journalists who write about those shocking events. I am not saying that the Rice and Peterson stories lack importance; personally, I am glad that the stories were reported because each lead to powerful discussions about domestic violence and abuse. However, more and more people know every detail about those stories, but lack proper knowledge on ISIS and the affect they have on our country. Is social media more of a clutch for journalists than a useful tool?

Social media play an important impact on journalism and what news the media feel is more important to cover. However, should journalists be so influenced by the people that use social media that they choose to write stories based on what’s trending?