The rise of social media has both negative and positive impacts on mainstream journalism

Before the rise of social media, most stories about major events around the world came from mainstream, legacy news organizations. Whether or not we, as the public, trusted their accounts of the events was essentially irrelevant. Today, due in part to social media, the news landscape has changed. Social media gives people a voice, which has positive and negative impacts for legacy news organizations.
By cartoonist Mike Luckovich

This article from the Reuters uses the aftermath of the Iranian elections in 2009 as a case study to illustrate the power of user-generated footage. Many Iranians, claiming the elections were rigged, took to the streets in massive protests. The violence of these protests was recorded by cell phone and other digital cameras and uploaded onto social media sites and video sharing sites like YouTube. Iranian people were given a voice and platform to tell their stories through photos and videos that were flooding all corners of the internet.

Due to the Iranian government's iron fist, mainstream media organizations had a difficult time covering the events, and thus had to rely heavily on reports they received from people in the streets. This, of course, raises questions of accuracy, as people were posting false photos and stories to simply gain attention. According to the article, while Twitter is a great tool for distributing opinion, it cannot replace curated media coverage of a crisis. It is now the role of traditional news organizations to package raw feeds from many sources and filter it to provide information to audiences big enough to make an impact. While news organizations are always going to be running behind social networks—which can break stories at lightning speed— there will always be a shortage of trust within these networks. It is our job, as consumers, to decide how to balance our trust and absorb news.

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