Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440 and revolutionized communication for centuries. Similarly, the advent of social media continues to change the way the world interacts.
Social media by definition is a form of electronic communication where users manifest online communities to share information, thoughts, personal messages, videos and similar content. In layman’s terms, social media is a place to share content with friends and family without leaving your bed. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and Tumblr are all examples of various forms of popular social media.
A timeline of social media reveals that the communication started as a means of connecting people through blogs or profiles, such as with Six Degrees, MySpace or LinkedIn. Now, social media has grown to encompass thousands of platforms that cater to several types of sharing. For example, someone can engage in micro-blogging on Twitter for short bursts of text, write long blog posts on Tumblr or not say anything and post a picture on Instagram.
As well as in diversity of platforms, social media is growing as a means to inform. Twitter alone is becoming the forefront of news, breaking huge global stories such as Osama Bin Laden’s death, the Arab Spring and now is replacing America’s soon-to-be President’s press secretary. So one could say social media makes an impact on news today.
Therefore, will social media replace the role of a journalist since news can now be found literally in the palm of your hand at an instant? The days of waiting for the Sunday paper are fleeting. People can find news more efficiently online.
However, does that mean your boyfriend-sister’s-cousin’s-ex fiancée’s tweets about Trump’s Toupee are replacing journalists? Well, one can argue that it is not as much about a replacement as it is adaptation. Much like how the music industry had to adapt to music downloading through free streaming services, journalists will need to change their traditional job roles.
For example, a similar field that has already begun to change due to social media is public relations. Traditional public relations devices such as formal press releases and media lists have become the “middle class” or minority in current public relations practices.. Without a strong social media presence, public relations firms and departments will loose company dependency and fall out of business.
Likewise, journalism will have to adjust to succeed in a social media run digital age. Journalists will need to become more versed in computer code and statistics to stay on top on their game. Also, reporters need to embrace social media as a tool, and learn to work in teams to grow with the advance of social media. Journalism isn’t dead, it just has to evolve in a new social media run world.
What does this all mean for a public relations major and aspiring writer like me? It means it’s a good thing I’m taking this class. Across the board public relations jobs will be looking at the millennial generation to spark beneficial public relations campaigns that need social media as a tactic.
So move over Gutenberg, we have a new communication revolution at hand.