The role of social media and search within journalism

The current crisis of trust in the news media is far from over. Because as Mynewsdesk’s journalist survey,  the Edelman Trust Barometer and Pew Research Center 2018 findings show, the media is currently the “least trusted global institution.” Also, exacerbating the media’s situation is the declining faith in search engines and social media. As our research shows, journalists rely heavily on these platforms for sourcing, researching and distributing stories.

Read more about this in Social Media Reset.

Social media responsibility

Johanna Snickars, communications lead for Microsoft in Sweden, cautions the use of social media as a source of information. “Technical platforms are mainly platforms; they are usually not sources of fact-based information.”

And our research shows journalists worry about the consolidation of power in the giant social media companies. 71% believe Facebook has too much power as a source of information. And that figure jumps to 77% for those in the industry with less than seven years (presumably younger journalists).

We asked the same question of PR professionals, and 52% shared journalists’ concerns.

Social media and search are now the primary channels people use to consume news – not the more carefully curated front page of news media sites. These platforms hold tremendous power because they can propagate ideas and suppress them.

Beki Winchel, previous editor of PR Daily, comments on the alarming power these channels hold.

With a social media platform, its purpose is to keep you on as long as humanly possible so it can get your data and advertising dollars, which is good business. But you as a savvy consumer need to be aware of going down a Facebook rabbit hole, or the internet rabbit hole or Reddit rabbit hole. You need to know what you are looking at, adjust those algorithms and look at several different things.

News media’s reputation

Publics globally want unbiased news coverage. But, according to the Pew Research Center, there is a significant divide on whether news media deliver on that promise. Surveying people across 38 nations, 44% of respondents say the news media is not doing a good enough job of reporting on political issues fairly.

And according to the Edelman trust barometer, close to two-thirds agree that the average person cannot distinguish good journalism from falsehoods.

These findings are similar to how journalists feel about their profession and industry.

Half say the public no longer trusts the news media as a reliable source of information. 58% say news organizations don’t produce quality work as they used to. One-third worry about the effect of “fake news” on the news industry. And lastly, one-third cite media bias as a cause for alarm.

Time for change

Part of the problem is that the public is starting to define media as both publishers and platforms. And the latter includes social, search and news apps. Moreover, these platforms are used as a tool by journalists to find, research and distribute stories, potentially perpetuating the dissemination of fake news.

Let’s take a close look at the situation. There is a loss of confidence in information channels and sources. Social and news are now intertwined and merged into media.

Now, it’s time for the public, reporters and news organization to challenge the status quo. We cannot live in a world without universal facts. And we cannot live in a world without some form of objective truth. All of us need to push reset.

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