Social media can give news organizations an advantage when covering conflicts and making people more aware.
When it comes to news organizations getting involved in social media by tweeting breaking news or posting articles on other sites to get the most recent information out there on a conflict; then it becomes beneficial to those seeking that information. It is a huge advantage for major news sites to have the ability to get their stories out there in a multitude of ways, because odds are, people may not watch the news, but they’re likely to click a link that a friend has posted about some new development on a conflict overseas. Using social media to post articles is an acceptable way to promote the news and cover it effectively.
Lisa Knap, a previously employed reporter for CH News, says that she looks “at twitter all the time for news… People are getting news when and how they can… I think it’s a great tool for people to still get your reporters messages out,” and that social media “has a real use and a real purpose, in that it can greatly assist in [that] situation.”
Lisa refers to a situation when the conflict in Libya was occurring and information was difficult to come by. She says that communication was shut down for a lot of the reporters, and news organizations had to turn to social media to get further information on the issue. “We were basically putting that forward on our own media and we did couch it saying that it was through social media and had not been verified. The information turned out to be true… If it weren’t for social media, it never would’ve gotten out.” She prefaces that it’s only when communications are shut down that turning to social media can give an idea as to what is going on during a conflict.
On the BBC news site, readers can see a comments section where the organization asks people who are in the conflicted country to let them know what is going on. The BBC is involving those in the countries to be aware and tell their stories – by doing this, they are incorporating a human interest to the story, and getting society more involved in the issue. At the bottom of every article on the CBC and the BBC websites, are icons to allow readers to share the news through social networking. These seem like further steps to help spread the word and hope that people will become more aware.
There are disadvantages to social media and that primarily comes with the spreading of false information. An individual can take a story and turn it into something else, effectively taking out the truth behind the conflict. This is a failure because there is no filtering of truth versus lies. In this case, it can be difficult to filter through the appropriate coverage of a conflict and what information is based off of lies. In this situation, it is up to the individual to pay attention to what they are reading about a conflict. If they choose to read articles from people who don’t have the most up to date information or listen to people who don’t have a proper conception of what is going on, then they will be fed inaccurate information. However, if they look at real coverage of an issue by a refutable organization, then they are more likely to receive the most accurate coverage on a conflict.
Social media has its advantages by allowing news organizations to promote their stories and spread information about a conflict. It can allow people to become more aware of what is going on in other countries, or even their own.