Social media is among the most disruptive technologies. It has influenced how people receive news, view content, and share information. The technology spreads information widely and directly to a person’s smartphone, reducing news delivery time. Social media has significantly affected traditional media. The impact is both positive and negative, but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.
Social media has curtailed the power of mainstream media. For decades, traditional media dominated the news industry, determining the content to show to viewers and readers. The monopoly allowed governments, dictators, and powerful individuals to infiltrate the media industry and spread propaganda. For example, some governments control media companies, allowing regimes to shape people’s views on national and international issues. Social media has taken that power away from mainstream media. Nowadays, social media content creators release and spread information that traditional media are unwilling to share.
Furthermore, social media has undermined the authenticity and trustworthiness of traditional media. For a long time, people trusted the media to tell the truth and inform them about recent developments. However, the rise of social media has changed the dynamics. Political commentators on YouTube, Facebook, and blogs repeatedly accuse mainstream media of lies and misinformation. They encourage their followers to avoid such channels. For example, right-wing commentators discredit channels such as CNN, MSNBC, and BBC, while far-left commentators persuade the public to desist Fox News and Newsmax. People even attack reporters from mainstream media companies, labeling them fake news.
Social media has negatively affected traditional media’s sales and viewership. People, especially millennials and generation Z, rely on social media to receive the news; they prefer a quick run on Twitter to see what is happening instead of watching television or listening to the radio. The traditional media has lost the millennial and generation Z markets to social media. These generations are digital and rarely buy a newspaper or print media. Such undermines newspaper sales and growth.
Social media pressure has led to inaccuracies and errors in mainstream media. Traditional media outlets, including television, radio, and newspapers, deliver news at intervals such as hourly or daily. On the other hand, social media allows users to receive news instantly. Mainstream media companies joined social media to deliver timely updates and ensure they remain relevant. The pressure to keep up with bloggers and social media outlets causes journalists and editors to make errors and mistakes. Nowadays, it is common to see a large media company delete an inaccurate tweet or rectify a false statement.
Mainstream media companies are losing journalists to social media. Social networks allow content creators, including journalists, to employ themselves and earn more money than in corporate media. Mainstream media journalists often shift toward blogs, Facebook, and Twitter; they establish a loyal audience, attracting advertisers. More journalists are leaving traditional media in favor of flexible and high-paying social media. Moreover, some talented journalist school graduates prioritize pursuing a career on social media instead of getting employed.
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