The “real-time” web or “real-time” search results and social media are something that is becoming synonymous with modern day search. But what impact is this having on the social landscape. Never before have had we had such information available to us with content and information no longer running in “traditional formats” such as television or newspapers. In the modern technological age of the internet, news can surface from thousands of sources including twitter, blogs and social networking sites.
The digital landscape has evolved and what we now deem as news and how we share that news has also evolved. We are now in the era of citizen journalism where the news is factual or non factual, real time information, updates and feeds from events are being distributed to the world. We no longer have to wait until the mid evening news bulletin, or the first edition of the national newspaper to get the latest news; we are getting news updates whether we want it or not.
There are thousands examples I could run through to highlight the change in modern news but I want to highlight a new band of Journalism, know as “Citizen Journalism” this is being propelled to the forefront of today’s news. The next three stories are examples of “citizen journalism” and how news has been distributed to the world via these sources;
With the integration of real time results into Google organic listings; Twitter updates or (tweets) are a primary source of information. Take the Fort Hood shooting last year in the United States of America. This army base was ordered into lock down and army workers and soldiers were instructed to have no communication with the outside world. However, one soldier took it upon herself to send twitter updates with “blow by blow” account of what was happening within the base. Traditionally this information would never have been available to the outside media, there would have only be an “official statements” from army officials.
So from this one soldier, the world’s media and indeed the world were told of a terrorist attack within one if its own army bases. It was only after Twitter updates were released that CNN picked up on the story and the world was then informed of key events. Later it was discovered that the soldiers chain of events were in fact untrue, however by that point the world didn’t care, they just wanted the story.
YouTube has been a long standing source of entertainment for internet users; however a more sinister aspect of the channel is videos appearing of a more disturbing nature; take the example of the shooting of Neda Agha Soltan’s a young Iranian woman gunned down in the middle of a busy street, due to her political outbursts around the government of Iran. The world’s media were prohibited from filming in Iran so therefore no official media source could have captured the video of the shooting; however, the brutal killing was videoed and shared with the world.
The cameraman was not a professional reporter, but rather an ordinary person, just like the victim. And what did he do when he saw a young girl bleeding to death? Did he run for help, or try to assist in stemming the bleeding? No he didn’t. Instead he pointed his camera at her and recorded her suffering, moving in closer to her face for her agonising final seconds. For all of our talk of citizen journalism, and getting the truth out, the last thing that terrified girl saw before she closed her eyes for the final time was some guy pointing a camera phone at her. “Look at me, looking at her, looking back at me”
The world’s most popular website; with over 250 million users most of us on a daily basis in fact for some this is their first activity when they wake up. This was certainly the case for two twins from Sydney, Australia. Being their birthday they woke to check their Facebook, expecting multiple birthday wishes from friends, however this day they were met with a more disturbing message. Their live feeds where bombarded with “RIP Bobby (their brother) and RIP Chris Naylor (his friend). To their shock they contacted their mother who in turn called the Police, who confirmed every mother’s worst nightmare, that her son Bobby and his friend Chris have been killed instantly in a car accident the night before. Such is the growth of social media that the Police official chain of command could not reach the mother or the family prior to the viral effect of the web kicking in.
All three examples are very different but all contain the same message; the world has to evolve with online developments. The internet is growing at an unstoppable rate and with it so is social media and real time information. There is still a need for quality journalism and quality news however users expectations are changing and at the moment offline publications are not meeting that demand. Official sources such as news broadcasters, governments and judicial departments have to understand that they have to move with the pace of change or risk being left behind. Social Media and Real Time will continue grow the question is how long will it take offline channels to catch up.
Julie Ferguson Organic Search