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Is Social Media Killing the News Industry?

This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

According to Gartner, worldwide social media revenue is forecast to reach $14.9 billion this year and practically double to reach $29.1 billion by the year 2015. With this level of growth, will print newspapers ultimately cease to exist? Will social media replace our most trusted and beloved news anchors like NBC’s Brian Williams or PBS’ Jim Lehrer? While certain research suggests this will soon be the case, there are also clear and unique advantages of traditional journalism and news outlets that social media cannot supersede.

Schools.com has created an infographic that aims to show how “social media is replacing traditional journalism as a news source.” The research depicted in the infographic shows that 59.5% of people get their news from TV, 28.8% from newspapers, 27.8% from social media and 18.8% from radio. Of the 27.8% using social media as their news source, 59.5% use Facebook, 19.9% use Twitter, 12.7% use YouTube and 11.6% use Google+.

In a close third place, social media is quickly climbing the ranks to be society’s preferred source of news. This aligns with research from TEKGROUP’s 2011 Social Media News Survey report, which found that an overwhelming 84% frequently or exclusively use social media tools to follow or monitor news and information. This may partly be due to the speed at which social media is able to disseminate news to the masses. In fact, many significant news stories have broken on social media before television stations or print newspapers picked them up. Stories including the Hudson River plane crash, royal wedding announcement, and death of Osama bin Laden all broke on Twitter.

So what does this mean for traditional journalism? While its top rank may be hanging in the balance, there are still many advantages that are keeping it alive. Although social media may only have a few characters to relay pertinent news, traditional stories have the ability to provide all the facts in one place while exploring multiple angles without being hampered by forced brevity. What’s more, news coming from traditional journalism comes from reliable sources with an element of credibility that is often missing from the average social media user who often, although unknowingly, may publish hear-say or rumors. In fact, Schools.com shows that nearly 50% of people have heard breaking news on social media that turned out to be false!

So, what do you think, is social media killing the traditional news industry or will there always be a place for TV broadcasts and the printed word?

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