State of the Media Report 2014: Is Social Media Trustworthy?

– Guest Blog by Itzel Laurel

As the rate of social media use rises among the population, this medium has increasingly become a priority for the success of traditional media.

The Vocus “State of the media report 2014” explores both the current state of traditional media in terms of trends and growth and the impressions of journalists about social media. About 256 media professionals who cover local, regional and national news working at magazines, newspapers, television radio or blogs participated in this annual survey.

The Fate of Traditional Media

Not only have dynamics of society changed since the boom of digital era and social media, but traditional media inner dynamics have as well. For example, according to the “State of the media report 2014” radio audience continues to rise, along with online streaming.

Regarding television, 100 new shows launched in 2013, and there were some new acquisitions leading to an increase in reach of companies like Gannett and New Young Broadcasting. Print media inner dynamics have also changed (but not necessarily grown) with the rise in the use of pay walls and mobile devices as replacement for professional photography equipment. Unlike television and radio, magazines have been less sustainable with 83 percent of the total magazine closures in 2013 being print and only 97 new magazine launches.

Trust (or Distrust) in Social Media

Due to resources like Facebook or Twitter, immediate feedback about content and publications is now available for everybody, including media professionals, to access 24/7. This can both be useful and troublesome since social media serves both parties (journalist and readers) for different purposes. For example, social media might be seen as a tool to reach new potential audiences, but audiences also have better opportunities to interact with the staff and other users when providing immediate opinions. So now, journalists must cope with both positive and negative reader and costumer comments that immediately become public information.

Furthermore, many journalists may not prefer to interact with audience, especially when being pitched story ideas in quick, abbreviated formats. In fact, according to the Vocus Report, in terms of interaction, 90 percent of the respondents prefer email for being pitched story ideas rather than social media.

More than 25 percent of journalist respondents rated five their trust in information coming from a social media platform (on a 0-10 scale with 1 being the least trustworthy and 10 being very trustworthy). An online survey conducted by Nielsen in 2013 similarly found that from 5,000 adults who were asked about trust in different media, only 37 percent of the respondents attributed that quality to social media while 58 percent did so to national newspaper. This makes sense considering the entire population has access to these new online tools, making it difficult to monitor what is legitiamte- espeically when it comes to news.

Although a high level of trust is desirable for communicators and consumers trying to move to a more digital form, for social media practioners, the diversity of platforms gives them flexibilty to be critical and engage on a more interactive level. Though the credibility of what they produce may not be as proven to be legitate, it gives them a voice that they had limited access to previously. Social media used as a news platform encourages media consumers to have a opinion and challenge what they read or hear, which in fact is what free press has always been about. Maybe the trust will come as the digital world continues to grow and evolve.


About the blogger: Itzel Laurel

Itzel Laurel is CCMC’s newest intern and is a psychology student at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in México City. She is interested in research projects about basic psychological processes and how the dynamics and interaction between nonprofit organizations and media influence public policy. Itzel is a participant of The Washington Center’s Mexico 100 Program, sponsored by Mexico’s government and The Mexican Institute of Youth (IMJUVE).