Social News Sharing: an innovation that has transformed the cyberspace of the internet as we know it.

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INTRODUCTION:

The power and influence of social media platforms allows the ease and ability to access and share news on a globalised platform of connectivity and convenience. Not only can media organisations facilitate news sharing through social media, but individual users find the ease of gaining knowledge within this as well. The success of news organisations, both economic and social, are aligned with the notion that there is a reliance on the popularity of sharing and consuming news. As Abbate has stated, the Internet was  constructed “as a virtual space for social interaction and individual expression” (Abbate, 2017, p. 4) and with the uprising of social news sharing this has only exponentially developed. There are two main parties within this internet innovation being the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, as well as the news organisations, such as Buzzfeed and Reddit which are addressed in my argument.  From analysing the doings of social media sharing, one is able to understand how the political, economic, social and cultural implications can be critically evaluated.

‘NEWS SHARING’ AND ‘SOCIAL MEDIA’:

It is important to clarify and define the main terms from that the argument is founded upon; ‘news sharing’ and ‘social media’.  Kümpel, Karnowski and Keyling argue that sharing is an ‘act of distributing a specific kind of content’ (Kümpel, Karnowski and Keyling, 2015, p.2)  to many people and on various platforms. Thus, we can see from sharing news, how individual users have an intention to spread important, or what is deemed valuable, information to others. Through means of technology, they are able to effectively do so through ‘social media’ which is fundamentally a term that has been coined as websites and apps have been developed overtime. ‘Social media’ has been described as being associated with user generated content; any application or website that has been formed on the internet “building on ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0.” (van Dijck, 2013, p.14)  Within the News Sharing article, there is reference to another aspect of the act of sharing on the internet which is social-networking sites; a notion that is more centred on people rather than content, as social media is. It can be argued now that with a definition of social media as being both apps and websites, social-networking sites come as an aspect of social media. Valenzuela , Piña, & Ramírez  indicate how the terms ‘social media’ and ‘news sharing’ are synonymous as professional news sites are increasingly dependent upon referrals from social media and the popularity sites likeFacebook, Twitter and Snapchat, generate the popularity from daily use. (Valenzuela , Piña, & Ramírez, 2017)

 

GENESIS OF THIS INNOVATION:

Evaluating social news sharing as an innovation becomes more nuanced as one critically evaluates its genesis. The premise of the internet, founded in 1991, created a sense of a new peer-to-peer connectivity, combined with ‘geek culture’. (van Dijck, p.14) It brought information and knowledge from many sources onto one platform through coding and new technological means. However it was through the rise of Web 2.0, involving social media, where there was a development of “two-way communication” (van Djjck, p.14) whereby a participatory culture was formed being more ‘user-centered’ and collaborative. Inherently, this two way communication was the catalyst for interconnected and instant communication, something that embodies and epitomises the nature of social news sharing today.  Through the uprising of a participatory culture, information is managed in a way that is democratic and opinions on various matters and topics are more present. News can be shared through links via email, newsletters and websites and are constantly evolving.

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND WHO HAVE BENEFITED FROM ITS TRANSFORMATIVE EFFECTS?

Economically:

With this development of Web 2.0 from which social news sharing has emerged there have been a multitude of economic benefits relating to revenue and profit, as well as individual user’s new found political awareness and the positive impact  social interaction between users for research purposes. Aligning with Martin and Dwyer’s argument, is important to analyse what digital news businesses rely upon to succeed and how interlinked each of them are, comprising to the notion of their influence within today’s cyber sphere. (Dwyer and Martin, 2017, p. 6) It seems but through social media there has been a massive advantage manifested within social news sharing being that advertisers are able to profit off of social media news sharing, but it has been argued by Emily Bell, that in fact there are users who utilise ad-blocking materials taking away profits. (Bell, 2016) A strategy to combat the issue is through using ‘native advertising’ whereby the individual reader is unaware that they are reading an article that is actually in fact an advertisement. Companies such as Buzzfeed, have altered and redefined the notion of conventional advertising through creating articles that engage audiences and demand their interest. Not only is the news organisation profiting from this, but so are the companies who would like to promote their product. Below is an article subconsciously selling vodka yet it is done so in an innovative and interesting way.

We Tried Weird Vodka Infusions and Don’t Know How to Feel Anymore, Buzzfeed, https://www.buzzfeed.com/titoshandmadevodka/we-tried-weird-vodka-infusions-and-were-pretty-impressed?utm_term=.njKr0XXB33#.odb96kkNmm

Politically:

Another benefit within the notion of social news sharing is the ability for democracy to thrive and for users to engage within political processes, systems and gain an awareness that may be hindered by the over intellectualised or potentially complicated presentations of political news on broadcasted channels or publications. Social media news sharing provides the intimate, user-connected experience through comments and sharing which inherently draws audience attraction. Nadler draws upon the case study of Barack Obama in 2012 in the middle of his campaign using the platform of Reddit to engage with american citizens and answer their questions. (Nadler, 2016, p. 1) Catering to the niche audience of Reddit, a website being popular to mainly young men, Obama and his team constructed an “electronic town hall” being akin to a forum except with written, non face-to-face answers. Innovatively, Obama found an alternate way to capture his viewership, rather than relying on conventional media such as CNN or NBC, he relied on ordinary viewers. (Nadler, 2016, p.1) From this, we can see how not only was the presidency benefitting from the exercise; gaining first-hand knowledge and connection with a significant percentile of the american audience, but so were the users. Although virtually, they fostered a strong connection with the president, gaining an insight into his world, thus a multifaceted political understanding through such an experience.  He used his significant platform as an infamous figure to make a transformation within political audience engagement and find ulterior medium to make any statements he deemed fit.

I am Barack Obama, President of the United States — AMA, Reddit.com, https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/z1c9z/i_am_barack_obama_president_of_the_united_states/

Socially:

There are many benefits relating to research purposes associated with social news sharing; researchers are able to gain a comprehensive understanding of the trends and algorithms of social news sharing due to the accessibility and nature of the ways in which social media is constructed Kümpel, Karnowski, and Keyling undertook a study on the Number of Articles Investigating News Sharing and Social Media From 2004 to 2014 and discovered that social media output “proves to be the most important for news sharing researchers”.(Kümpel, Karnowski and Keyling, 2015, p.3) Twitter has proven to be the most successful due to the nature of it’s “open environment”. There are simpler ways to track any communication networks, what major users are doing and tweeting and whether there are any trends or developments. On the contrary, due to Facebook’s more complicated privacy options data is not as available for public use. Through their study, an understanding that gratification drives and explains the outcome of sharing news. Hence, the motive and the positive effect are inextricably linked; the user is able to get an surge of knowledge through sharing news as researchers gain an insight into its popularity. It’s relationship with communication media and information management is condensed and concisely stated by Rogers as a “process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system”. (Rogers, 2003)

 

Number of Articles Investigating News Sharing and Social Media From 2004 to 2014, Kümpel, Karnowski and Keyling, 2015,

BUT WHO IS NOT BENEFITTING FROM SOCIAL NEWS SHARING?

The decline of traditional media: 

Whilst society has seen rapid economical, political and social advantages of news sharing it is important to address how there is a major decline of traditional news media outlets. We are seeing now how commercial television, a hard-copy newspaper or printed stories are very one-dimensional and limited. (Sinanan, 2017) Consuming news has become a more individualistic experience that we rely on social media to partake in. The instantaneous nature of engaging with news is only provided through the mass popularity of social media; newsworthy stories or politics must be circulated or go viral to get attention. Thus, any traditional news outlets that are not on social media are not benefitting.

CONCLUSION:

Social News Sharing has become a phenomenon that individual users who are apart of the nuanced and ever-changing cyberspace of the internet, partake in and mould. The journalism industry has dramatically altered as a result of its emergence, yet the way we perceive news and current affairs has seen the benefits of companies’ success form through economic, political and social means.

REFERENCES:

Abbate, J. (2017) What and where is the Internet? In (Re)defining Internet histories, Internet Histories, 1:1-2, 8-14, DOI: 10.1080/24701475.2017.1305836

 

Bell, E. (2016). The End of the News as We Know It: How Facebook Swallowed Journalism. Humanitas Lecture: University of Cambridge, March.

 

Dwyer, T., & Martin, F. (2017). Sharing news online: social media news analytics and their implications for media pluralism policies. Digital Journalism, 0(0), 1–21

 

Kümpel, A S., M. Karnowsk, , and T. Keyling, (2015). News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research on News Sharing Users, Content, and Networks. In Social Media & Society July-December 2015: 1–14. doi:10.1177/2056305115610141.

 

Nadler, A. (2016). Popularizing News 2.0. Making the News Popular: Mobilizing U.S. News Audiences (pp. 119-148). Urbana; Chicago; Springfield: University of Illinois Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/stable/10.5406/j.ctt18j8wqx.8

 

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.

 

Sinanan, J. (2017). The social media landscape: New media and ‘old’ media. In Social Media in Trinidad: Values and Visibility (pp. 30-56). London: UCL Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/stable/j.ctt1xhr53j.6

 

Valenzuela, S., Pina, M., and Ramírez, J. (2017). Behavioral Effects of Framing on Social Media Users: How Conflict, Economic, Human Interest, and Morality Frames Drive News Sharing. Journal of Communication 67: 803–826

 

Van Dijck, J. (2013). The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media. New York: Oxford University Press.

 

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