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Oct 8 / Viji Iyer

How social media has given the news broadcasting industry a facelift

Photo by ABC Archives

It’s been fascinating to see how the power of public opinion has evolved over the years. We as a community have come a long way in challenging today’s agenda setting within the broadcasting industry and defining what we consider as news worthy. We’ve made long strides from how agenda setting was originally defined as “the process whereby the news media led the public in assigning relative importance to various public issues”(Zhu & Blood, 1997).  Information would be packaged and controlled by the handful few that played the role of media gatekeepers. The manner in which news was traditionally dispersed influenced public opinion on what they considered as important and relevant.

We have come a long way from that definition and social media has played a catalytic role in this process. Every morning I wake up to ‘Morning Express’ with Robin Meade on CNN’s HLN (Headline News). Apart from getting my daily dose of news, what interested me was their tagline “We give you the news. You give us your views”. I realized that the power of agenda setting has shifted gears. Social media had permeated its way into the broadcasting industry revolutionizing how news is created and disseminated today. They too are adopting the new social media strategy of listening and engaging versus the old fashioned dogmatic methods of push strategy when it comes to news and information.

News channels today are opening the doors to their audience asking them for their opinions. They share the worldly happenings with their public and welcome them to give their feedback regarding it. They are interested in knowing what the people think and have to say regarding the events of the day and encourage them to reach out using the social media channels. These days we can, not only pick up the phone to call the news stations but have myriad resources at our disposal to communicate back. We can choose to email back, tweet about our thoughts (on Twitter), leave our comments on their Facebook fan page, blog about it or even publish a YouTube video sharing our opinions. This then becomes a reciprocal process of action and reaction based on live and instant conversations. We as an audience today get to choose and decide what is newsworthy and play an active role in that process.

So what does that mean? How does that affect us? It affects us at a very fundamental level. It allows the layman to have a voice and more importantly be heard. It gives us the opportunity to get involved and be engaged in the news making process. With the ability to participate in these conversations through these social media sites, the viewers start taking deeper interest, become more socially aware and become active gatekeepers in their community. Look around, current instances of any breaking news many a times are foremost gathered by a witness who just happens to be there. Be it the initial images of a tropical storm, live relay of a plane accident or a humorous celebrity faux-pas moment, is first witnessed by a viewer who captures it on his camera phone and streams it on YouTube or iReport on Soon enough it is picked up by several news channels making it a newsflash breaking news. Content is no longer the fiefdom of the powerful few but is becoming more egalitarian. And its people like you and me who get a voice and hold the reins to what we define as news today!

Photos by ABC Archives and Kino-eye

  • Satbirm

    great post !

  • Viji Iyer

    Thanks Satbir! :)

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