Ever since the birth of the printing press in the fiftieth century, the news business has been driven by technology. That has never been more true than today. With the advent of the personal computer, digital cameras and smart phones, internet technology and social media have given the public instant access to any information with a touch of the screen. At the same time, a new dilemma or opportunity (depending on who you ask) has come to fruition. A boundary has been drawn in the sand in the world of journalism. Is it news, entertainment or both? There seems to be cloudy view in some circles and people are asking if social media poses a threat to the integrity of journalism. Two giants in the social media universe, Twitter and Facebook, are at the heart of this social media debate. Twitter, based in San Francisco, boasts having a 500 million membership and generating over 340 million and handling over 1.6 billion search queries a day. Members can post “tweets” through any personal computer or mobile device. Twitter has become on of the top ten most visited websites on the internet. Facebook began in 2004 and was created, controversially, by Harvard wiz kid Mark Zuckerburg and his fellow students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughs. According to Social Media Today, in April 2010 an estimated 41.6% of the U.S. population had a Facebook account. World wide, Social Media Boost, states “that if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest on the planet.” With the fierce competition and the shrinking budgets of news organizations, is Facebook and Twitter gaining share in the news field? Absolutely! Looking at the demographics for these two social media giants, they are favored 50% by adults 30 years of age and younger. Of that 50%, it is estimated that over 95% own some form of digital media that range from smart phones, personal computers and hand-held tablets that have fully capable access the digital world. Media industry publications and critics often mention a media shift from traditional outlets, like newspapers and magazines, to digital, Facebook and Twitter news sources. Going a step beyond simply being online, media organizations have begun to consider how news organizations use social media tools to keep their audiences and, most importantly, to keep bringing in advertising dollars to support their models. The volume of information can seem overwhelming. However, there are questions on what the future holds for a world containing independent journalism and social media tools. How is popular social media tools being used by the media? What ethical issues surround journalists’ and the use of social media tools? Looking at the data from the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism/ State of the New Media 2012, we see some intel on how these two giants of the social media world are impacting the those participants in the social media realm and how the participants are getting news.
As people gain access to more content as well as the power to create content that spreads, traditional journalism is shifting from being tightly controlled and regional to an ongoing dialogue between journalists and the general public. It is no longer enough to hide under the a well-recognized brand name to the likes of the New York Time, The Washington Post or any of the major television networks. According to Joshua Benton, director of the Neiman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, “while it may be easier for traditional journalists to communicate with their readers and get story leads, they must now have to come to terms with a career that involves several different roles and decide what to prioritize.” The fact remains, that we see more and more media outlets utilizing smart phone video footage, print and television reporters pasting their