DigiTalk: Who needs a newspaper?
Social media has made traditional information sources all but invisible to people under 30. Would anyone have know about KONY 2012 without Facebook, Twitter or YouTube?
A few days ago, Suzanne Choney of the MSNBC Technolog wrote an interesting article about social media's importance as a news source for adults under the age of 30.
Using the recent KONY 2012 viral video as a focal point, Choney quoted a report from Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project as saying that younger adults were more than twice as likely to have seen the video on YouTube.
These articles got me thinking about my own media consumption habits, and I came to realize that I'm also much more likely to hear about something on a social network than on a newspaper or on television.
Was that revelation a true surprise? Well, yes and no. As someone born in the mid-80s, I actually still can remember the time before the internet boom. For at least the first decade of my life, I personally didn't have the internet at home. This means that I did receive my information in more traditional ways (in my case, mainly through the TV.)
However, as soon as I first got a taste of the internet, I almost completely abandoned traditional media. Slogging through the primitive news sites and search engines (remember Hotbot??) back in those days felt more fun than being spoon fed information via newspapers, and something about being able to choose what information I consumed was empowering.
That continued onto my high school and college years, because as the internet evolved, so did the amount of freedom we had with how we accessed and consumed our news.
Well, the latest KONY 2012 viral video is yet another milestone in the evolution of information-gathering. With the video getting almost 80 million hits in its first ten days of release, it's certainly proven that social media (especially Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), can REALLY get a message across.
Would you have known who this was without YouTube? Would you have cared?
Let me be clear: I'm not here to agree or disagree with the video or the KONY 2012 movement. I'm just here to talk about how its sudden rise to popularity brings to light define how the younger generation (which I'm a part of) learns about the world around them.
Now, imagine if other world-changing events had happened today. What about when Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon? How about the Holocaust, or the Wright Brothers' first flight? Videos of these events would have surely gone viral, and that's not something that anyone can argue.
It's always amazing to see how quickly our habits change. Now, the first and the last thing I usually look at before bed is my Facebook news feed. Whether for good or for ill, this tends to be the first way in which I find out about anything in the morning and evening. The second is through my Twitter feed.
When I was a kid, my father, an accomplished journalist, used to tell me that the first thing I should do every day is read the newspaper. These days, the first thing I'll instant message to him is: "Have you seen anyone post <insert story name here> on Facebook yet?"
SEE ALSO: DigiTalk: Bear Scare - The Power of New Media
The changes don't stop here either. While I may receive at least two thirds of my news through social media, I still do things like buy TIME Magazine, or the occasional paper when there's a headline that grabs my eye. The kids that were born in the 90s and 2000s, who probably can't remember a time before the internet, likely won't even want to open anything made out of paper.
Heck, if someone didn't make the KONY 2012 video, there would be tens of millions of people still in the dark about what's happening in Uganda. It will be interesting to see even more interesting to see what the media landscape is like in another decade or two.
My main concern now is whether rules for proper reporting will be completely abandoned altogether, especially as social media becomes more powerful. Then again, as audiences evolve, so does the mainstream media. Perhaps they just need a bit more time.
How do you receive your news? Do you rely mainly on social media or still use traditional methods such as newspapers or the evening news to stay abreast of current events? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!