Home FEATURES In Social Media, Everyone Is A Journalist, By Ruth Choji, Tony Egbulefu

In Social Media, Everyone Is A Journalist, By Ruth Choji, Tony Egbulefu

President, Nigeria Union of Journalist
President, Nigeria Union of Journalist

Social media platforms have changed the face of journalism as almost everyone with an active Internet computer or smart phone charges into news reporting on the World Wide Web.

It is undeniable that the social media has helped shrink the world further into a global village. The relative selling point of social media comes with the instant interactiveness it offers account holders on its different platforms. Remarkable also is that the social media has carved a niche for itself as news and information dissemination vehicles, which it discharges in an instant, to a mass of global audience in real time. While all these have impacted the face of present day journalism and reportage, it has equally posed a huge challenge to traditional media platforms, given that the social community shares in a flash, news stories, information, images and videos which the traditional media offer with a great deal of time lag. Timeliness is of essence in news reporting, and the one-up in this regard is not for the old media.

Today, there is a litany of social media platforms, that include, Facebook, Whatsapp, 2go, Wechat, Badoo, Twitter, Instagram, Twoo, Myspace, Linkedin, Friendster, Classmates, Meetup, Mylife, Flexster, Blackplanet, Netlog, Xing and a myriad of strictly dating sites. More than half of the world’s total population is hooked on these media networks for just about anything. Dating sites such as ‘Match’ boasts of 35 million subscribers, ‘Plentyoffish’ 23 million, ‘Zoosk’ 11.5 million, ‘Okcupied’ 11.1 million, ‘Eharmony’ 7.1 million, ‘Christianmingle’ 5.5 million, while monthly active users of Facebook is officially put at 1.23 billion people. Apart from the dating sites, all other social media platforms play a role in reshaping the face of journalism.

Speaking on the impact of the social media on present day reportage, a former reporter, now a media consultant, Julie Chollom, said: “I see the advent of the social media as an advantage to the news world. In my days, reporting was difficult because you have to be on the spot to report some stories, but now with a click, you can get all the information you need. So, I believe it is good”. As an interactive platforms, the social media she says, “Gives the reader easy accessibility and an opportunity to make their contributions. It also has a way of integrating us. But it has its own disadvantage which young people might not see or agree with”, she disclosed.

Unlike how it has been with the age-long reading of newspapers, watching television or listening to radio, many people have come to an untimely death or suffered different types of harm or losses following their interactions with other social media users.

“If you look at a site like Facebook and the rest, it gives you room to find and connect with anyone and this has exposed families to dangers. Some have even lost their lives to these connections. It has also affected bondings that existed in families because children no longer stay closer to their parents, they will rather be chatting up with friends through the medium”, Chollom said.

Social media journalism has also leveraged licentiousness. While it crawls with nudity and porn, predators such as pedophiles and other anti-social elements inundate the platforms with information that make vulnerable young people fall prey to their antics and devices. “Another thing I notice with the social media is that, most people don’t have privacy anymore”, she observed.

Mercy Nimzim, a reporter with a broadcast states that, “The social media helps me a lot to know what is happening and where it is taking place. I also get foreign news through it. Today, we now know personal details on our stars and prominent people in the society. I love it because it has made my job easier”.

Lucy Daniel, a practising journalist said, “Whether we like it or not, the social media has changed the way we report and it has also helped to enlighten people on their society. I know that it will get to a stage where people will stop buying newspapers or even listen to news broadcasts because they will have all they need at their fingertips. I am just afraid that it will make some of us lose our jobs”, she feared.

Haruna Abdullahi, who works for an online publication said, “I love the social media because it keeps me abreast of what is happening all over the world. But as with all things of life, it has its own negative side and I also believe it can never take the place of the real old fashion hard news coverage and reportage. The social media connect us to our long lost friends. It gives us easy and quick access to information and allows us to chat with friends and families. The social media can also manipulate people. It can be used to incite or create havoc by evil minded people. It easily manipulates people into thinking in a certain way on a given matter. A good example is the way Islamic culture is being perceived by people because of the social media. Islam is now being regarded as a religion that breeds terrorism because of the negative influence of the social media”, he said.

Indeed, no rule applies on the social media journalism by members of the online community. No one bothers with balance or fairness. It is where fictions are elevated as facts, without scruples. Everything just goes.

“The social media does not balance its reports unlike the old fashion newspaper and TV that will get both sides of the report before dishing it out. I agree that It has now made us to see the real world as it is, and make some of us more knowledgeable but it is becoming a big time consumer, making young people lazy. It has also led to breakdown in families and marriages. The social media is being used to report sensationalism that appeals to emotions, instead of reporting facts”, Abdullahi said.

This is the new trend that online journalism or what is now popularly known as the socia media has brought on the pen profession. Analysts are of the views that regulation needs to be enforced on its usage.

I love the social media because you can also react to news and event unlike the stagnant news you get from TV and newspaper.” (Culled from Leadership.ng). [myad]

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