I thoroughly enjoyed our classroom discussion on digital convergence this week. As a working journalist it’s something I deal with on a daily basis. As we discussed in class, one of the most prevalent products of digital convergence is the diversification of media and the empowerment of the consumer to also become a producer of information. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (often referred to as the “big three”) greatly increases our news gathering abilities by crowdsourcing information — especially during instances of breaking news. But at the same time social media is the “Wild West” of information. There are no checks and balances. The newsroom is often inundated with snarky Facebook comments like “You’re late. I read that on Twitter 15 minutes ago,” which is sometimes true. Many times information tweeted by a non-verified account, not associated with a news organization is accurate — but far more often it is wrong. While, as Ivory mentioned, social media is often a place you can find information faster than by going through a traditional news website, broadcast, or paper there’s often little certainty that the information you’re consuming is accurate. If @Joe589CuseFan gets it wrong that aliens in fact did not capture Joe Biden and transport him to Mars there’s little loss on his behalf because there is no presumed credibility. But if a news organization were to make a similar mistake its credibility would take a major blow.
Media literacy was another topic we dug into during class this week. Once again, as a working journalist, it’s one of the issues we find our consumers struggle most with. Few are able to discern the value of consuming news from a trusted news organization versus social media. This is especially true when it comes to millennials. When I ask fellow millennials where they get their news almost always the answer is “social media”. While there’s no doubt social media is a powerful tool to discover news and new information that would otherwise be buried somewhere in the internet it inherently lends itself to (and in many cases is engineered with the intent of serving) confirmation bias. And any journalist knows that confirmation bias is one of the biggest hurdle to an informed public. I’m looking forward to next week’s discussion as we turn back the dial to the 90’s to see how we got to where we are today.