It is with heavy heart that the news this week has been engaged with in print and online. There will always be tragedy that is prevalent in the media, some more devastating than others. While it is the news’ job to keep us informed of events as they unfold, in this digital age we are consumed by the world around us – and not always in a good way.
In light of this week’s upsetting attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday 22nd May, 2017, journalistic integrity has been put to the test. This integrity goes far beyond whether print is a better option than digital. It comes down to whether the quick demand for updates allows for sustainable, researched and authentic news.
Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) reports “the importance of journalistic integrity is nothing new.” (Hetrick, 2016) But the sustainability of journalism and news in general largely comes down to the millennial generation. It is this generation that make printed journalism a justifiable option due the realism of quality journalism and its content.
This integrity goes far beyond whether print is a better option than digital.
You cannot deny digital news its purpose. It’s fast, up-to-date and easy to access. This week’s events are proof at how important its presence is in journalism. Yet the standard of the journalism, the surge or social media engagement, and the need to know everything at all times means mistakes are made.
Facebook is under scrutiny for such oversights – particularly in the height of what has become known as “fake news.” With the UK elections to take place in a matter of days “fake news”, journalistic reliability and digital platforms, such as Facebook, will determine whether digital is a sustainable source of news over the conventional newspaper format.
“[Facebook] was strongly criticised during the US election when false stories spread on social media including that the pope had endorsed Donald Trump, but such egregious examples have yet to surface in the UK general election” (Booth, 2017). The social media platform is now looking to provide credibility of any news shared, “tweaking its technology to stop the spread of misinformation, and offering to pay fact-checkers to ensure the veracity of stories on the platform” (Murgia and Kuchler, 2017).
The millennial generation is not to blame for this shift in news culture.
The millennial generation is not to blame for this shift in news culture. They do however encourage the digital platforms to grow, thus increasing the number of hoax news stories suitably aimed at a generation that does not know the difference between fake news and real news. “Younger people are [also] more avid users of social media: 18- to 29-year-olds obtained news on social media 47 per cent of the time, twice as often as those aged 50 and older, who received news from social media 23 per cent of the time” (Bond, 2017). For almost half of 18 to 29-year-olds to read their news via social media presents a new issue: are social media platforms becoming the new media outlets for journalism? If so then Facebook’s current problem with “fake news” is just the beginning of a new kind of radical journalism that will likely tarnish a historical culture of news, journalism and its conventional newspaper form.
This week’s attack in Manchester have shown the positives of social media, that cannot be ignored. The community spirit of sharing and retweeting has reunited families with loved ones under the worst of circumstances. In this case social media works in the way it was originally intended to. Despite this there is a great flaw in the way journalism is used to cover the news. Social media is at the helm of such problems. Printed news is the solution. But can the two coexist in this digital age to satisfy everybody’s needs?