Akhilesh Shukla, Chief Content Facilitator, UC News

Twitter and Facebook, were possibly started with the vision to redefine the way we socialize. Founders may have never thought that they will one day change the way editors look at news. Pictures, videos shared on their platform will generate feed to 24×7 news channels and become a front-page stuff in the newspaper.

Remember, how during the Hrithik–Kangana controversy the former’s FB post became the breaking news for hours. These social media platforms have become a strong communication medium for everyone, especially for Bollywood celebrities and politicians. The impact is so huge that brands are now shying away from signing celebrities as brand ambassadors as they see no exclusiveness since the audience are connected with them on social media. Similarly, Twitter trends have become important from an election battle.

Another Prominent Voice in Newsroom

A decade back, editors used to define what is good, bad, or important for readers. The rise of Internet 2.0 led readers’ voice into the newsroom, that too loud and clear. No editor today can ignore Twitter trends and viral FB post. Users’ feedback in real time. Often they are ruthless, at times good.

In the next phase of evolution, readers will take up the editor’s role. It would be the readers who will decide what is good or bad. In fact, it is already happening. At UC news, following the values of Alibaba group, we have kept readers first. Our news app recommends stories based on users consumption pattern with the help of new age big data technology. That is, a user who consumes sports content will get more sports-related stories versus politics or entertainment. Further, thousands of bloggers are actively writing stories and reporting from different geographies on our We-Media platform. They get an equal opportunity to get noticed on our platform, as any journalist or editor has.

First Source of Information

The photographers and journalists cannot reach the place of the incident as fast as a Facebook or a Twitter user can. Hence they become the first source of information of any calamity or untoward incident. The first few minutes of such incidents, which is crucial for any news organization, are always reported based on the pictures/videos and information shared on Twitter and FB.

Consumption Pattern

FB and Twitter have also redefined the content consumption patterns. A digital journalist, before writing an article has to think of what audience he is writing for – Google, FB, or Twitter, as the consumption pattern is different for each platform. News channels now especially curate 2 min videos for the digital medium, which should be sharp, to-the-point. Even traditional print journalists are asked to appear on their Facebook pages zto speak to a live audience. Interesting examples come from the entertainment industry. Bollywood songs, which used to be 5-minutes long, have now come down close to just 3 minutes. 

Fake News

One of the biggest threats emerging from the rise of social media is – fake news. Readers and, even journalists do get carried away with it. Various instances were reported where an old video of some other country has fuelled communal tension, led to the loss of lives and properties. Media, however, is rising to the challenge and is actively working to kill the fake news. But that is not enough, as the reach of social media platform is bigger and faster than media houses. I think all of us need to show some self-restraint while using social media, as media alone cannot win this battle. We need to be more cautious, especially, while forwarding a message, if possible should do a general check. The medium, I would say, is evolving. The true potential is still not realized. It would continue to redefine how we consume content, be it news or entertainment.

The views expressed are personal and do not represent those of his existing or previous employers.