Social Media Becoming Significant Platform for Today’s News

Two new reports — one from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and another from the Pew Research Center — highlight how social media platforms are becoming the dominant platform for accessing and consuming news. Reuters reveals that 28 percent of 18-to-24 year olds are more likely to access social media as their main source of news than TV (24 percent), and 51 percent of those with online access also rely on social media as a news source. This trend is negatively impacting traditional business models.

The BBC says the Reuters report, in its fifth year and based on a survey of 50,000 people in 26 countries, identifies “a second wave of disruption” impacting global news organizations. Among the facts revealed, Facebook “is the most powerful force in global news” and less than 10 percent of readers in English-speaking countries have paid a dime for online news.

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Traditional media “is still producing far more of the heavyweight news stories read by the online audience.” But making money out of serious journalism, the report adds, is getting increasingly difficult.

Facebook is used by 44 percent of those surveyed to “watch, share and comment on news,” followed by YouTube at 19 percent, Twitter at 10 percent, Apple News at 4 percent (in the U.S.) and Snapchat at 1 percent or less. Accessing news via social media is particularly popular among women and younger people, says the report.

The Pew Research Center’s latest annual State of the News Media report, says TechCrunch, reveals just how successful social media outlets have been at winning the lion’s share of digital ads. Total digital ad spending in the U.S. grew “another 20 percent in 2015, to almost $60 billion,” at a time when print newspapers suffer from “shrinking budgets and substantial job losses.”

“Increasingly, the data suggest that the impact these technology companies are having on the business of journalism goes far beyond the financial side, to the very core elements of the news industry itself,” says the report.

The Reuters report, says the BBC, states that 36 percent of surveyed consumers “are happy to have their news selected by algorithms, with 36 percent saying they would like news chosen based on what they had read before and 22 percent happy for their news agenda to be based on what their friends had read,” with 30 percent still wanting “the human oversight of editors and other journalists in picking the news agenda.”

With so much power consolidating in just a handful of tech companies, Pew cautions that, “it will be important to keep in mind that the result is about far more than who captures the upper hand or the revenue base. It is determining how and with what kinds of storytelling Americans learn about the issues and events facing society and the world.”