Technology has made a huge impact on the media and communications. As technology develops, the speed of the news cycle has turned from a once-a-day event to a constant stream of information. The information has become democratized, with every smartphone user able to create content on the fly and share it to local news outlets. Gary LaPlante, a Boston-area news professional, examines some of the ways in which rapid technological change has made its mark on the industry.
Technology has always been part of the news media, starting with the first printing presses. These novel machines enabled news to be distributed much more widely than the previous system of rumors and oral stories. The only thing that has changed today is the rapidity of change in the technology used by the news media. As the news cycle has become a twenty-four-hour affair, the rise of social media platforms like Twitter enables minute-by-minute updates by selected personalities. President Trump has used Twitter in an entirely new way, governing the country in tweets.
Rise of Social Media
Today, many people receive their news through social media, one piece at a time, according to Gary LaPlante. This is a stark difference from the time in which most people received their news once a day through television or a newspaper. Individual social media users are able to curate their feeds on the fly, posting news with a certain ideological standpoint or which agrees with their view of the world. Social media news readers need to be aware of these biases when looking for solid news.
There are dozens of online sites that publish on Facebook and Twitter. When news readers do not pay attention to the source of these stories, they can find themselves trapped in a certain ideological world view. It pays to keep in mind which news sites are balanced and which are highly polarized. Even websites which many people would think are balanced have a reputation for tilting toward one ideological pole or another. News consumers need to be aware of these biases.
The saturation of news in the media has only gotten more complete as people have begun to carry smartphones everywhere they go. Rather than sitting down at a computer or in front of the television, news can follow people everywhere. This can produce rabid followers and it can also turn people off. Many more people are allowing the news cycle to change the course of a normal day, gathering around phones and computers for live streams of major stories. Push notifications can keep people up to date even when they are not actively using their phones.
The rise of Facebook Live has shown one of the drawbacks of this type of information. People who are committing crimes or engaging in unsavory activities use Facebook Live and these stories are quickly absorbed by the public, causing outrage. Facebook’s monitoring standards are under constant update, with the site running to catch up with its users.
New technologies that have recently come on the market include smart home equipment. In the future, these technologies may be able to broadcast news to the public. Integrated screens or speakers which are meant to become part of the normal household landscape may even be used to create new media for communications.
Journalistic Integrity as Outlined by Gary LaPlante
People need to understand that the world of news and communications has sped up a thousand fold, but the basics of good journalism have always remained the same. There is a serious lack of quality reporting in the news, with biases everywhere. News and media consumers need to be discerning with the information they consume.
The compartmentalization of the news world will only continue in the years to come, with certain types of information being separated into walled gardens. The average news consumer will need to wade through a lot of misinformation before finding a reliable source of news. Gary LaPlante reminds news and media consumers to take everything with a grain of salt and to resist the temptation of instant news gratification. Taking the time to find a reliable source will ensure that consumers stay informed.