Online media is replacing newspapers and TV. Is that a bad thing?
How the new online media landscape is changing the way the public gets its news.
(Page 3 of 7)
Walk across the campus or into a campus hangout like the Davenport Coffee Lounge and you will see faces lit by the dull glow of electronic screens, everything from laptops to smart phones, and not a sheet of newsprint in sight. The students click through Facebook, but also through news sites – The New York Times, The Washington Post – as they lounge and converse and sip. This is the modern news hub for your standard-issue 21st-century college student.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Is this the end of news?
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Stine says a normal day for her is rolling out of bed to catch an 8:30 class or go to work with little time to read the day's news. She catches up in an ad hoc fashion at odd moments. Her first check-in with headlines often happens in class, if things get dull, or immediately afterward between classes. She figures that over the course of the day, she opens her laptop 10 times and cycles through a list of outlets reading about Libya after her early class or about fashion after lunch. And, like other online news consumers, she has essentially created her own digital newspaper based on her quirks and interests.
The Susan Stine Daily? The "legacy media" are well represented in The New York Times, BBC, and radio station site KYW. But Huffington Post is there to offer some pointed opinion. There is also Project Rungay, a fashion blog. And for her fill of trashy celebrity pseudonews there is Oh No They Didn't – a website with the motto "The celebrities are disposable. The gossip is priceless." All in all, a nice smattering of most everything.
"And I always check in with Twitter and Facebook," she adds.
Water cooler or wire service? All news is social.
Twitter, 200 million users, and Facebook, 500 million, have become the new behemoths of the news media environment, particularly among younger users.
These sites, and other social-media sites like them, are more than ways to find out where friends are eating or hanging out, they are catalogs of news links. So along with her daily online "newspaper," Stine dips into the daily "newspapers" of other friends and their news of the day – stories they've read, blogs they've scanned, videos they've watched, which, combined, are the equivalent of personal news services.
Social media is a growing force in news consumption across the age spectrum, but it is particularly prominent among younger news consumer like the students at American University (AU). Almost 60 percent of those ages 18 to 29, according to a Pew Research Center survey, said it was important to be able to share "news content with others through e-mails or posting to other websites, like Facebook." That was much higher than any other age group.
And for some critics that raises real questions. Assuming our friends are a lot like us – or at least similar in outlook or background – what does this world of "friend approved news" mean for democracy? Are we, particularly the young, just talking to yes men to confirm our beliefs? In the age of customized news consumption, how does one reach outside one's intellectual garden for a broader perspective, much less get a complete picture of what's actually happening in the world?
But, all is not lost, says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, far from it: "Young people get their news from friends through e-mail and social media, but the [news] links are usually to more mainstream outlets. It's stories from Yahoo, MSNBC, AOL, Google, and The New York Times."