Social media is quickly becoming a popular way for college students to get news, one of many ways the future of journalism is being effected.
This is an industry that is getting used to a change in its craft in the midst of keeping the public and the university students of America (and indeed the world) informed. As solutions are worked out, what becomes of it will represent the future of journalism. Social media is on the rise, with the Internet leading the future of journalism, effecting the current state of the consumption of journalism. A report from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph says social media is becoming the top news source for people between the ages of 16 and 24, as part of research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford in the U.K.
"People are taking online and social media seriously," said Emily Jupp, a social media journalist at the British newspaper The Independent. "The way young people consume news has changed." Jupp adds that while older readers will use social networks for social experiences, social media's consumption of news and traditional usage by youth has affected how young people use social media, adding that The Independent is trying to reach out to younger readers through social media.
It is a surprise as it shows a development in social media, especially in Facebook. "It's all about social," said Sarah Marshall, the technology editor for journalism.co.uk, a media industry web site. "If you see something shared, you click on it." Marshall adds that a Facebook user will have friends with similar interests.
Social media has allowed a wide variety of content to be accessed. For newspapers and many organizations worldwide, there is a challenge. A report in the British magazine The Economist also suggests that in order to survive on the Internet, newspapers and other news organizations will have to think of a global audience. "Wider engagement is already happening," Marshall said. "The criticism of the next generation is that its not engaged. I don't buy it. There will always be an appetite for news."
Jupp says that The Independent can do it. A study Jupp noted says a lot of traffic from The Independent comes from social media. They are thinking of a U.S. audience in addition to the U.K. However, there are concerns. "Experiments say yes, we can do it, but we'd be competing with a lot of people," Jupp said. "We put a paywall up for a while and decided to take it down again. We update to 12:00 a.m. U.K. time, catering to a U.S. audience. There are mainly U.K. stories, but we have world stories. We try to publish the stories on social media in a timeframe. We're thinking globally, but we have no plans for a New York office. It may be a good thing to do in another ten years. We'd be competing with others who are doing it well." Jupp adds that compared to other national papers, The Independent is smaller.
Outside of social media, there is also another big question for journalism when it comes to this generation -- will university students pay for content through the paywall, or look for content that does not incur a cost? Marshall says that this is not a generation issue. "It doesn't matter if they [consumers] are 45, 50, or 15 -- they're not used to paying for it. Those who value content will pay for it," Marshall said. "Quality journalism and the brand is why they buy papers."
The solutions to these questions being faced in the modern journalism industry are being developed instantly. As Jupp says, journalists are still trying to figure out what the next step is. "Everyone is experimenting with different things."
By Alex Venneman, Lewis University
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