Social Media Impact on State Budget Cuts
The new study, which studied all the traditional outlets which made local news in Baltimore, MD, for just one week, discovers that most of the news being published is overwhelmingly driven by local traditional media especially newspapers. Even though online news sources are quickly forming and many are being viewed as a credible alternative, newspapers continue to be the main source of local news. These stories tend to shape the storyline for all other news outlets, creating a powerful media bias. Even though many people now rely on online news sources as their primary source of information, these stories are not nearly as widely shared as the local newspaper articles.
This study’s key finding is that online and social media sources, such as tweets and Facebook, were not as popular among readers as the traditional media. This surprise to the researchers came from looking at the comments on the stories posted on the news-outlets. When the researchers asked people to sign up to follow those websites, they found that the vast majority of those signed up did not do so simply to read news but rather to comment on current events. The study found that only 5% of those who read the traditional media stories actually followed through and shared them with others. Most often, people simply shared the original reporting with others on Twitter or Facebook.
This study confirms what many have been saying about social media and the impact it has had on mainstream press coverage of local stories. Social media outlets are quickly becoming the go to place for many individuals seeking breaking news. Many people look to these platforms for original reporting, breaking news on celebrities, celebrity gossip, and the latest scoop on politics. While this may be good for consumers, it can also hurt the reputation of traditional media outlets who have a large amount of followers on these sites.
While there is no clear evidence yet on whether the lack of original reporting on local television or talk radio is directly related to the amount of engagement, another study points to the issue. A third research study published in JAMA Online found that both traditional and digital outlets were more likely to engage than social media outlets. Of course, engagement was dependent upon what type of outlet a user chose to follow. People who follow multiple outlets were much more likely to be engaged with the content on their pages.
The findings from the study are similar to those of an earlier study that looked at the impact of new media on newspapers. That study found that people were more likely to read the newspaper when compared to other forms of new media. With this study and others like it that focus on the impact of new media, one has to wonder what exactly the role of social media will play in the future.
The lack of original reporting on traditional media outlets may be hurting newspapers as well as television news. One silver lining is that there are more people tuning into YouTube and other video sharing platforms than ever before. This could mean that people are getting more up to date information from a variety of sources than ever before. In addition, the amount of original reporting in traditional media is decreasing while online content is increasing. The result is that the impact of new information is greater than ever.