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Where Do You Check For News? Social Networks vs Print Newspapers

When was the last time you read the newspaper? Watched a TV news program? Checked your Facebook or Twitter account? The popularity of social networks has made them not only an attractive source for advertising but also news consumption. For those looking for a quick update on current events, social networks seem to equal television and surpass newspapers as a primary source of information. A news consumption survey conducted at the Pew Research Center shows that 33% of Americans got their news on social networks while only 13 percent read a print newspaper. The survey also shows that 25 percent of all Americans have downloaded news apps in 2011, up from 16 percent in 2010. With the convenience of mobile news and social network apps, the future of print newspapers appears obsolete for American adults.

Not only do social networking sites serve as a great source for viral spread of news, but they are designed just for this purpose. Recent changes to the Facebook News Feed now give users a faster and greater number of updates on their friend’s activities. According to Mark Tonkelowitz, “Now, the News Feed will act like your own personal newspaper” by showing the most interesting stories at the top based on user preferences. The Pew Research Center study shows that Twitter users “are increasingly getting news and sharing news stories with others” and that Twitter users connect more with journalists and news organizations than any other social network users. Twitter’s follower relationships are primarily based on a user’s interests making it easier for them to see and spread news that interests them.

In a homework problem, we were asked to discuss the spread of news via sharing links on Facebook. More specifically, we discussed the idea that you are more likely to share a link from a distant friend because it lowers the risk of your close friends already seeing this link. This problem highlights the role of social networks like Facebook in spreading news. Due to the vast network database that these sites support, they serve as the perfect place for news to spread across the world.  In the first lecture of networks, we have seen an example of a user’s Facebook network. In this network, there were many clusters, or groups of friends who were isolated from others. Clusters such as a group of high school friends and a group of college friends exist in almost every Facebook user’s network. Since news is more likely to spread over a bridge between clusters, it is clear why Facebook or any social networking site is an ideal source of spreading news.  Therefore, will the print newspaper disappear in a history textbook or will it resurface as a primary source of news consumption in the future? Let’s wait and see.

Sources:

Emerson, Ramona. “Facebook News Feed Changes: Say Goodbye To The News Feed You Know (PICTURES).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/facebook-news-feed-changes-ticker_n_972350.html>.

Sonderman, Jeff. “One-third of Adults under 30 | Poynter.” One-third of Adults under 30 Get News on Social Networks Now | Poynter. 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. <http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/189776/one-third-of-adults-under-30-get-news-on-social-networks-now/>.

Tonkelowitz, Mark. “Interesting News, Any Time You Visit.” The Facebook Blog. Facebook, 9 Nov. 2011. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. <http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=10150286921207131>.

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