Prediction #1: Social Media Rules and Overtakes Mainstream Media
This rise in popularity and use of social media, in recent years, has begun a new trend. The method by which the general public receives breaking news has already evolved. From the traditional pre-emption of the “Price is Right” by CBS news, to a simple tweet or Facebook status update. The mainstream media has been quietly over-taken. This is a trend that I see continuing, and growing, into the future.
Most recently, the Boston Marathon tragedy shed light on who holds the power of news reporting in today’s world. Minutes before CNN or Fox even got word that the explosions had occurred, personal videos of the attacks aftermath were already popping up on YouTube. Tweets, from those attending the race as spectators, began to flurry on the twitter news-feed. Junior reporters, “newsbies,” were re-tweeting and sharing these accounts. Meanwhile, in the world of mass media where minutes feel like hours, CNN and Fox were still absent.
Finally, the time came when the “big three” (CNN, Faux, MSNBC) began to report the explosions. But, wouldn’t you know it? They got much of the information wrong! CNN, in their haste to catch-up with the social media crowd and be the first major outlet to report the tragedy, announced that a suspect had been arrested immediately after the bombing. This was not true, as the Boston police immediately replied. More major and minor details were mis-reported by all major outlets. The whole time, it was social media wizards who were correcting them and reporting the truth to the public.
If nothing else, the Boston tragedy showed us that US major media cares only about getting the story out first, and not about getting it right. With the age of social media upon us, public distrust of major media has skyrocketed. I believe that now the public has seen the true colors of mass media, and in future instances of crisis or breaking news, they will instead turn to social media for more credible reporting. In times of crisis, accuracy is all the public wants. Though we do want the story fast, we don’t want it fast if it means that the story is wrong.
In the future, social media will be the main source of factual news for the public. Mainstream, major media will still exist, however, their role will have to change. They no longer are able to be news-breakers with any sort of accuracy. They must evolve to find other ways of relating to the public through current events.