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News in the digital age

Navigating a world full of clickbait and fake news

by Erin McSorley, Staff Writer

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It’s becoming increasingly impossible for anybody, especially journalists, to ignore the overwhelming take-over of the digital revolution. When we think “news”, we no longer think “paper”, but words like “media” and “television”. Are we, as people, aware of how these changes will affect how we receive our news?

 

In 1985, the internet was born, beginning the digital age. Since then, we’ve developed social media and popular search engines such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Today, we see the results of that by way of live-tweeting, breaking news, and blogs. Despite the accessibility and quickness that the digital revolution has brought about, the gaps in accuracy and potential for bias outweighs those gains.

 

Pew Research Center has concluded that 64% (nearly two-thirds) of adults obtain their news through Facebook. In addition, half of social media users regularly share news stories, images, or videos. While obtaining news through this medium is convenient, it’s causing users to receive less information, not looking past the headlines they see in their feed long enough to read a full article.

 

Users who access news sites through social media spend less than a third of the time reading than people who directly access the site. Research shows that readers who access a news site directly spend about 4 minutes and 36 seconds on the site, while those arriving through Facebook are spending on average only 1 minute and 41 seconds. This goes to show that the consumption of news as a whole is decreasing due to people’s ability to read 240 character blurbs and take them as fact.

 

While this evolution of receptive news isn’t all bad (it’s created about 5,000 digital news sector jobs), it’s asking a tall order of journalists in the media. In the attempt to keep up and pull attention to correct facts and accurate information, news platforms are losing their audience to an online world made up of swayed opinions and inaccurate writing.

The good news is that journalists aren’t giving up the fight. Currently, about 40% of all news and media platforms now have a mobile app in which people can access their news the same way they would on social media. The digital revolution and social media age can be a good thing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s going to take the hard work of people and journalists that are passionate about true journalism and genuine news.

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News in the digital age