Monday, September 19, 2011

Social Media, First on the Scene

By Sarah Gubara

Long gone are the mornings where you’d see a man in his pajamas, sipping coffee, and reading the newspaper. Instead the likely image is that of a young woman with a Starbucks to-go cup in her hand and a smart phone in the other, browsing her social feed.

A survey conducted by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 65% of people cast the internet as their main source of news. While, the Canadian Media Research Consortium found that 43% of social media users get their daily news via recommendations from friends and family on sites like Facebook.

Social media sites, especially Twitter, have proven to be the fastest and most effective way to monitor events and stories as they’re happening. The no commitment 140 character limit on Twitter allows you to quickly browse multiple perspectives and opinions of people around the world on any given topic.

You’ll find that more and more stories break on Twitter first, such as the revolutions in Egypt and India or the crash of Continental Airlines Flight 737, where passenger Mike Wilson was the first to tweet. Another vivid example was the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death as Keith Urbahn, Former Chief of Staff for Donald Rumsfeld tweeted “I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot Damn.” Within 2 minutes, Keith Urbahn’s tweet had been shared over 300 times, stealing thunder away from the Presidential Address that was to come later that night.

The advantage is clear, Social Media has what traditional news sources don’t always have: personality. On Twitter, people contribute their own reactions while sharing news, which makes it not only faster but way more entertaining than traditional outlets.

While news spreads quickly via social media, so do rumors. It’s unbelievable to seen the chain of events and speculations that can ensue from a single tweet. I’m sure you’ve heard of many celebrities who were declared prematurely dead on Twitter including Johnny Depp, Justin Bieber, and Tom Hanks. Although, it can become a challenge to balance social commentary against socially useful news, the novelty of communicating news over social networks is still ingenious. As for the useless chatter that comes along with it, my advice is to follow credible sources and verify content before you start writing your eulogy for Justin Bieber.

Sarah Gubara is the Manager of Social and Digital Media at Maroon PR.  Contact her at

1 comment:

  1. So true. I feel like in an age where you can't trust the media, more and more people are turning to social media. You can usually trust your friends, right?