For the first time in media history, people are gathering their news from online sources more than they are from traditional sources such as newspapers and televisions (“Key Findings,” 2011), and specifically, they are gathering their news from the social media sites like Twitter – with over five hundred million new accounts being created everyday (Davis, 2011).
In less than a decade, social media was created, became highly influential, and now life could not function the same in its absence. Social media is defined as, “Internet based tools and platforms that increase and enhance the sharing of information. This new form of media makes the transfer of text, photos, audio, video, and information in general increasingly fluid among Internet users” (“What is Social Media,” 2012, p 1).
There have been various social media sites, such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, which arose out of Web 2.0 languages, that have changed the way people communicate, and the way news is spread. Social media websites now allow users to gather information about current events and post their own thoughts and opinions instantly. Even more, one out of every four and a half minutes of Internet usage is spent on these social media sites, and 1.2 billion people are participating in the online networks. (“Social Networks/ Blogs,” 2010; “Facebook Twitter,” 2011). Twitter reached 1 in 10 Internet users in the world.
On the contrast, traditional news is in decline (Kushin, 2010). In a report produced by The Pew Research in 2011, it is reported that “people are spending more time with news than ever before, but when it comes to platform of choice, the web is gaining ground rapidly while other sectors are losing. In 2010 digital was the only media sector seeing audience growth” (“Key Findings,” 2011, p. 1).
A closer look reveals that local television was down 1.5%, network television was down 3.4%, newspapers were down 5%, audio was down 6%, magazines were down 8.9%, cable television was down 13.7%, but the only growth of the year was the Internet – growing 17.1%. For the first time ever, people gathering their news online surpassed people gathering their news from newspapers (2011).
“In 2011, losses in print advertising dollars outpaced gains in digital revenue by a factor of roughly 10 to 1, a ratio even worse than in 2010. When circulation and advertising revenue are combined, the newspaper industry has shrunk 43% since 2000” (Mitchell & Rosensteil, 2012, para. 8).
Cable news also joined the decline as people are now seeking their news in a social atmosphere (“Key Findings,” 2011).