Critically discuss the role of social media and citizen journalism in society today and consider how this has impacted on traditional journalism thus far – using specific examples - and what it may mean for the future.

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As Internet and technologies do not cease to evolve, it is accurate to state that social media and citizen journalism have become the pillars of the contemporary society and possess a major impact throughout the different industries. Social media has become a stepping stone to each person’s daily routine and the necessity that the general public has to be part of debates and events becomes evenmore striking. The focus of this essay is to critically discuss the role of social media and citizen journalism in society today and to consider how this has impacted on traditional journalism thus far and what I may mean for the future. In order to answer to this discussion, one will overview the influence and use of the internet within the United Kingdom, followed by a brief explanation of whatsocial media and citizen journalism is while critically discussing their role within our society and their impact on journalism and analysing a future perspective of this reality.
In 2010, statistics showed that the British population holds the third place regarding the amount of time spent online per user with 36 hours and 74,2% of the households in the United Kingdom (UK) had internet access.Although, email, research and shopping were still popular, users engaged more in social networking and video viewing. Statistics showed that 51% of UK internet users read or download online news, newspapers and magazines; 45% listen to web radio or watch web TV; 43% post messages to chat sites, blogs or newsgroups and 38% upload self-created content.
Individuals are starting to prefer to gathertheir information and education through different platforms and social media plays a major role in this reality. Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies that allow users to communicate through an interactive form through internet forums, blogs, podcasts, photographs, video among several others. Its users are not only passive consumers but have become active users and have oftendeveloped a particular interest regarding a specific theme. According to Haelein and Kaplan, there are six different types of social media: collaborative projects – Wikipedia -; blogs and microblogs – Twitter - ; content communities – Youtube - ; social networking sites – Facebook - ; virtual game worlds – World of Warcraft – and virtual social worlds – Second life - . Particularly Twitter, has had amajor impact within journalism as the majority of journalists and media channels rely on Twitter to gather information about their audience, to look up for new stories or to keep informed or inform regarding breaking news or fast paced evolving events.
Social media are distinct from traditional forms of media such as newspapers, television or radio due to a certain set of characteristics: reach– as both media forms are capable of reaching a global audience but social media is more decentralised, less hierarchical and distinguished by multiple points of production and utility, whereas the more traditional channels use a centralised framework for organisation, production and dissemination; accessibility – as the means of production for traditional media tend to be government or privatelyowned and social media tools are available to the public at little or no cost; usability – as traditional media production is relatively easy to achieve as its operation only requires a reinterpretation of existing skills; immediacy – as communications produced by television or print can be long compared to the virtually instantaneous responses of the social media; and permanence as traditionalforms of media cannot be altered once they are available to the public while social media enables the user to comment or edit.
Acknowledging the strengths of the internet and social media is a priority to understand the new journalistic pathways that developed from it. The rise of the internet introduced a number of important challenges to the traditional mould of information production and...
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