Is social media setting the news agenda for print and broadcast?

The speed and reach of the social media platforms, especially of Facebook & Twitter, has posed a new challenge for the print and broadcast players. Increasingly, the editorial agenda across newsrooms is a reflection of popular social media trends, pointing to its growing influence on mainstream media

e4m by Abid Hasan/Ruhail Amin
Updated: Mar 16, 2016 8:09 AM
Is social media setting the news agenda for print and broadcast?

The growing influence of social media on mainstream news is increasingly becoming a subject of debate among media practitioners and over the years this trend has grown in a phenomenal way.

The speed and reach of the social media platforms, especially of Facebook & Twitter, has posed a new challenge for the print and broadcast players. Now, the editorial agenda across newsrooms looks like a reflection of popular social media trends, raising questions about the independence of the newsroom culture.

The recent example of this was witnessed during the recent JNU controversy when social media sparked a national debate on the ‘freedom of expression’ and mainstream media followed suit. It was in many ways a testimony of the influence that social media exerts on the social and political narrative of the country.

In order to take this debate further and to get a holistic  perspective on it, we spoke to some mainstream media practitioners about their take on this. Here is what they had to say:

N Ram, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd

There are many trolls on social media today, in India particularly, and we got to sort out what is genuine from what is propaganda.

In India we have very few cases when news has become significant after appearing first on any social media platform. It certainly gives you some feedback if it is genuine and you got to sort out from trolls and genuine opinion of people and their feelings and criticism. You can learn from it. The business of sorting this out takes a lot of time.

Moreover, I haven’t seen many instances of social media driving traffic to mainstream media, but theoretically it could. I don’t think it’s been harvested in India very much but I have read about it happening elsewhere like The Guardian in UK.

Supriya Prasad, Managing Editor, Aaj Tak

Talking especially about Aaj Tak, Social Media doesn’t impact any of our news agendas at all. Social Media has its own importance but a channel runs from an editor’s conviction not the trends on social media. Journalism needs credibility, and when a news channel and newspaper comes up with a story they hold a certain amount of credibility in their news. One can’t compare social media with TV and newspaper because the source of news on social media is not defined.

Rana Yashwant, Managing Editor, India News

The impact of social media has started showing on television news. We often get news from social media and run it on our channels, and I would say that to some extent electronic media has been influenced by social media.

However, the major drawback of news on social media is that it is not always reliable. As an editor, one has to keep this factor in mind before relying on news reports on social media platforms. But at the end of the day social media and news broadcasting complement each other.

Aditya Tandon, Marketing Head, CNN-IBN

The Editorial thought process at a news brand is a multi-layered process - social media adds one more dimension to the same in terms of integration of social chatter around news events and trending topics into programming.  What social conversations really enable is that they allow for a more intimate relationship between the viewer and the brand -a two way dialogue, leading to greater accountability, for the discovery of interesting content, for the capture and tracking of views both at an influencer level and at an aggregated level. Given its open architecture, key news events reflect on social platforms really fast, but credibility remains an issue.

Jignesh Kenia Senior VP and Head Business Development, Strategy and Digital, Times Network 

For any news organization, the editorial is independent from all influence. Social media helps in highlighting the people’s opinion on the news, as well as helps in curating content for causes which can be taken up by the editorial.

Social media does cover breaking news, but we do still have an edge when it comes to in-depth reporting and analysis. Viewers go to different platforms for different content types – so while social media might give breaking news to a user, but he would tune in to the channel to see a more detailed coverage. Also, social media news tends to be opinionated whereas news on TV & newspapers is unbiased and factual.

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