THE SANTA CLARA
October 23, 2014
Journalists do not win the Pulitzer Prize for 140 character blurbs. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post did not break the Watergate scandal and drastically change the face of American politics on Facebook. More importantly, your Great-Aunt Susan may make great cookies but her journalistic clout does not match that of a New York Times staffer.
The ability to express opinions so freely, without restraint and on such a large platform depreciates the value of taking the time and effort to brainstorm, research, type, edit, retype and re-edit an opinion piece.
With the rigorous effort put into articles in the past, there came a certain level of legitimacy. We got our news from trusted news sources with established and accredited perspectives. Rather than reading two-line tidbits spewed out mindlessly by anyone with a cell phone signal, we read opinion pieces with backbone.
Admittedly, Facebook statuses, Twitter updates and Instagram posts are much faster to read than a well-sculpted editorial. This allows for the quick and easy consumption of countless news updates that our hectic lives necessitate.
How many students have time to sit down and read the New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle every morning?
Social media also enables a rapid release of information to come from the very center of an event. Social media allows us to have “boots on the ground” during monumental events and serves as a game changing means of communication in fast-paced situations.
The Arab Spring uprisings and recent protests in China serve as testament to this. Such events would never have occurred without widespread use of social media.
However, not every Twitter update carries the same weight. While rapid news updates are critical during a protest, the more “breaking” a news story is, the harder it is to edit.
A recent study done by ING, a financial group, noted that very few journalists check their facts before publishing. According to the study, “fact-checking has become less thorough; ‘publish first, correct if necessary’ is the motto these days.” The same study predicts that the realm public’s opinion will be used and accepted as being true more and more in the social media era.
In other words, news will be reported because of what the masses say, but the masses often ignore the necessity of fact-checked pieces.
What we read as we scroll through our social media often isn’t reputable news, and when we get the majority of our news from our newsfeed, as many young people do, we have a serious problem.
According to a study done by Pew Research Center, “those who type in the news outlet’s specific address (URL) or have the address bookmarked spend much more time on that news site [and return to the site] far more often than visitors who arrive from a search engine or a Facebook referral.”
Unchecked and unreputable platforms shouldn’t formulate our opinions and perspectives.
Facebook is not a substitute for the New York Times. Twitter cannot replace Politico. While social media works when looking for a quick news link, it must not stand as our main source of information.
Why are we are trusting a massive game of telephone? I challenge us to think, rethink and then think again about where we get our news.
Rikki Vick is a junior sociology major.