Social media has become one of the most important part of the Internet world with a large number of user base, and most people have now been strongly affected by it, using it to obtain information and also participate in public activities. Due to this increasingly widespread of social media platforms, the production and circulation of news media has been shifted to online since news businesses need to adjust themselves to adapt with this “multi-platform digital media ecology” (Hurcombe et al., 2019, pp.1).
Such transformation has thus provided new channels for news dissemination, which social news sharing has then been innovated where many news organisations and practitioners have opened their accounts on social media, posting and sharing news constantly to increase their audiences under this digital era. This also somehow reveals the audience-centric nature in today’s news media business model.
According to Australia’s 2020 Digital News Report (2020), younger generation today’s main source to access news is mainly online through social media.
Since the introduction of this change has brought large impacts upon each individual, a deep research on news sharing throughout the history is then absolutely worthy. Thus, the influence that social media platforms has facilitated this innovation will be analysed below through how social news sharing has benefited those content publishers and media businesses in political, economic and social senses due to internet’s automated content moderation system (Dwyer & Martin, 2017). Furthermore, its resulting problem of lacking in reliability and accuracy will also be discussed as how this has affected us as ordinary users in daily study and work.
Historical trends and development of Social News Sharing
What is new sharing?
News sharing can be understood as “an inherent human activity” that a set of people accessing news content via diverse methods (Kalsnes & Larsson, 2018, pp.1669). It has existed for a very long time from verbal communication between people to then mailing newspaper. The development of digital technology has definitely sped up this process of sharing, evolving from print culture to today where news can be transmitted to a much wider group through just a click on your phone or laptop (Kalsnes & Larsson, 2018).
Transformation within a digital context
Social media’s development was incredibly fast in the past decades, and till today, it is undoubtedly true that platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, has now become the first source of information being utilised to access news, latest information and also current affairs. However, such popularity of social media has changed the relationship between readers and news media, as news is no longer a one-way communication from the media to the audience as a passive acquisition (Hurcombe et al., 2019).
Audiences turns to be more active in their choices of news, and also having more power to comment, engage and also spreading it. This also makes the communication model becoming more complicated since social media platform today has this power to boost not only what can be read for readers, but also what contents will be created by editors (Bright, 2016).
Thus, if news organisations want to continuously increase their influence on social media, they must know what kind of news will be favoured by users in order to increase their followers to generate a larger impact (Carlson, 2016).
Hence, platform is now playing an essential role in the process of news dissemination since the success of news is mainly depended on its influences on social media.
Who has benefited?
1. Political: Online news sharing consequences on election outcome
Since news today has mainly accessed through social media platforms, it has also turned to be the main forum of political discussion for voters during the election period. This has a quite large influence on the voting outcome due to internet’s nature of automated content moderation, and thus people’s view may be limited within a certain perspective that they prefer to look at, receiving information that has similar opinions with themselves.
There's no way Donald Trump would stand in the driving rain. https://t.co/4DZWz1rXzp
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) October 30, 2020
Pogorelskiy (2019) explains this as everyone’s filtered preferences on the internet is somehow an “invisible autopropoganda”, and this “indoctrinating” their own ideas to themselves. This somehow results in the fact that those elected candidates may be benefited since they are able to stabilise their voters to keep supporting them due to the limitation of information being received by users.
2. Economic + Social: commodification of individual preferences in social news sharing
The online social news sharing innovation can be also considered as “a decentralised, autonomous, efficient information-sharing market” (Dwyer & Martin, 2017, pp.1082). In this case, the choice of news can then be calculated by online automated content moderation system which each individual’s preferences are able to be generated because of the frequent use of social media accounts. Such large number of data is somehow valuable to both platforms and content publishers, which more influential content will be produced and delivered to wider audience with a larger social impact.
Furthermore, those data are also precious for advertisers to analyse social media’s participation and the topicality of certain contents. Such commodification of statistics on news sharing preferences has thus successfully benefited many businesses as their “social and cultural capitals” (Dwyer & Martin, 2017, pp.1082).
Traditional media companies being threatened?
However, this innovation has also challenged the development of traditional news media since people do not have the need to purchase print publications anymore. Online news sharing “unsettles the agenda-setting power “of mass media, as the news stories being selected is no longer under the control of news editors (Bright, 2016). In this case, news sharing makes social media users play two roles, both as content producer and readers at the same time.
Latest data also reveals the fact that trends of using traditional media including TV, radio and print as news source is keep decreasing, but online methods are gradually increasing (News and Media Research Centre,2020).
One of the major American local news company, McClatchy has filed for bankruptcy this year, being one of the declining sign of traditional press business, clearly emphasising how technological changes has destroyed newspapers.
Related News Article: McClatchy, major US local news publisher files for bankruptcy
Those mainstream news media was therefore threatened by such potential of ordinary people involved into the process of agenda-setting (Bright, 2016). The new two-way communication model has brought traditional media a big shock since consumers’ participation is rarely active through the traditional method of news transmission.
Impacts on ordinary users
As an individual, such innovation has also influenced self-work and study in both positive and negative ways. The abundant information being produced and shared online has definitely brought conveniences to everyone as it allows us to look at the latest information and more quantitative content (Dwyer & Martin, 2017).
Fake News influencing content selection
However, consumers could also be harmed by social news sharing due the existence of fake news (Dwyer & Martin, 2017). As more information was presented and more opinions has been shared online, the nature of objectivity on news has been lost which it is hard for people to distinguish whether the information they received is correct or wrong. Unlike people’s previous notion on traditional media that news is always subjective, online news media alter this and they often take a certain position and perspective to look at an issue. Such difference may influence consumer’s judgement upon news as their opinions may be affected by the biased information they have seen (Dwyer & Martin, 2017).
The problem of filtering news is always an issue as increasing quantity may cause the consequence of decrease in quality, the accuracy of news was declining due to this new online form of sharing. For university students like me, it sometimes affected my study while working on assignments since more research needs to be done in order to produce a more subjective and higher quality essay writing. The choice of sources needs to be selected very carefully since ordinary people that are not professionals are also able to produce content online which social media has “blurred journalism’s boundaries” (Carlson, 2016, pp.915).
Hence, this innovation has a quite big influence for my study due to the “audience-centred” nature for social new sharing, and it hence requires myself to pay more attention on picking reliable information (Hurcombe et al., 2019).
Therefore, the invention of social media has shifted social news sharing into a much more complicated model that is influential in contemporary study on media and communication due to its impacts upon media producers and internet users both politically, economically and socially, demonstrating how social media platforms and content creators are able to take a more dominant position in news creation today (Hurcombe et al., 2019).
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Dwyer, T., & Martin, F. (2017). Sharing news online. Digital Journalism, 5(8), 1080-1100. doi:10.1080/21670811.2017.1338527
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Kalsnes, B., & Larsson, A.O. (2018). Understanding news sharing across social media. Journalism Studies, 19(11), 1669-1688. doi:10.1080/1461670X.2017.1297686
McClatchy, major US local news publisher, files for bankruptcy. (2020, Feburary 14). Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/
News and Media Research Centre. (2020). Digital News Report: Australia 2020. Canberra, Australia: University of Canberra.
Pogorelskiy, K., & Shum, M. (2019). News we like to share: How news sharing on social networks influences voting outcomes. CAGE Online Working Paper Series, 427, 1-48.
Spiro, T. [TopherSpiro]. There’s no way Donald Trump would stand in the driving rain [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TopherSpiro/status/1321990891775660033
Tedx Talks. (2020, March 12). Content moderators: the gatekeepers of social media | Gianluca Demartini | TEDxUQ [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajjov8Ve4Ik
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