Breaking News in 140 characters or less

Before the internet, breaking the news was strictly the job of professionals who had extensive training, access and control of resources that us mere mortals did not. But now, the world of journalism could not be more different.  Do you have a smart phone and access to an internet connection? Well, congratulations you could now be a gate-keeper of a wealth of information and knowledge or- simply a pile of poorly researched, inaccurate dribble!

Posting on a website, blog or Facebook page – even writing an email – is a new form of publishing…(social media) enables the amateurisation of communication.  To sum up the position: the profession of journalism becomes obsolete because the social media have democratised publishing. (Dimitrov 2014, p.4)
Journalists At Play by Lisa Padilla (CC BY 2.0)

At the end of 2015 there were roughly 12.9 million internet subscribers in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The audience is now forgoing the more traditional methods of news in favour of the world of online.  News organisations and journalists themselves have been forced to adapt, or simply bust. Our changing requirements as readers, in combination with the saturation of technology is now defining what we are given by the news organisations. Kolodzy (2012, p.1) explains that the youth of today are favouring social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instant messaging as a way to receive news.  And as a youth of today (26 is still youthful!!), I would have to agree. My initial sources of news come from updates I see on my Facebook and Twitter news-feeds on my phone.

1201 sn3 by studio tdes (CC BY 2.0)

Alejandro (2010, p.9) explains that the concept of scoops and leads have changed with the development of social media. A journalist’s tips for a story are now coming from the What’s Trending sections of Twitter or Facebook.  We as an audience are becoming increasingly impatient, we want our information in real time– forcing journalists to increase their pace ten-fold. We are now fed snippets of information as journalists themselves discover it.  The risk of waiting until a full story is formed, is that News outlets may find themselves out-scooped by competitors- or even worse, a member of the general public.  How embarrassing!

There have been many instances of social media breaking news before news organisations can even dream of having a full article printed.  Check out my podcast for some notable examples of this.

So what’s the big deal?

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2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’- Source: Social Media Today

There are a number of concerns when we look to social media as a reliable news source. We see in the above graphic from Social Media Today, that reporting breaking news in 140 characters or less (Twitter, for example) can be quite limiting when it comes to telling a story.  As mentioned earlier, when everyone has access to reporting news on social media, communication can be amateur– so who are we to believe? This has happened many times when we have been fed reports of celebrity deaths that turn out to be nothing but hoaxes.  Huffington Post, in their article about journalism changing at the hands of social media, mention the importance of checking facts.

This new style of ‘citizen journalism’ can be a double edged sword at times and one of the clearest recent examples of this occurred on the site Reddit, as the search for the Boston Bombing suspect was taking place. Because of unchecked facts, a manhunt for the wrong man – who eventually wound up being found dead from an apparent suicide – began. (DeMers, 2013)

The benefits of social media as a news source are simple.  Anyone with access to these platforms now has a voice and the potential to report news. It’s a quick and immediate way to release news, and unlike bulky cameras and recording equipment- mobile phones can go just about anywhere.

Sambrook (cited in Alejandro 2010, p.42) says ‘Bearing witness is a journalist’s job. This is something technology cannot provide’.  Despite the positives of social media as a breaking news form, we must not lose sight of the value of a journalist’s credibility.


Dimitrov, R 2014, ‘Do social media spell the end of journalism as a profession?’, Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p1-16. 16p

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, Internet Activity, Australia, December 2015, cat. no. 8153.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics,  retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

Kolodzy, J 2012, ‘What’s old is new, what’s new is old’, ‘Practicing Convergence Journalism’, Routledge, p.1&5

Alejandro, J 2010, ‘Journalism in the age of Social Media’, Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper, University of Oxford, retrieved 23 August 2016, retrieved from : < >

Morejon, R 2012, ‘How Social Media is Replacing Traditional Journalism as a News Source’, Social Media Today, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

DeMers, J 2013, ‘How Social Media Is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism’, The Huffington Post, weblog post, retrieved 23 August 2016, < >

Podcast References:

In Soundcloud Description.


Social Media Influencers: The New Brainwashers

My name is Jess and I have been paid to post on Instagram.  Don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes too.  Working in the fashion industry, I have been sent clothing, products, event invitations, and on one occasion money to post about a particular campaign.  What struck me, was how willing these brands were to hand over these free things to me, simply because I had an ok amount of followers. I’m certainly no celebrity or expert on anything really, but I am privy to these benefits because people are willing to chuck me a like and a comment every now and then.

I don’t think of myself as an “Influencer”- but I guess you could say I am having some sort of influence over my followers.

The social media influencer, has divided opinions since we first saw them rear their well dressed (“check out my #FashionNova discount code for sweet threads!”), toned (“I have so much energy thanks to #SkinnyMeTea!”) exfoliated heads (“#FrankBod makes my skin feel so soft!”).  So why do we have this attitude towards social media influencers?  Do we really like people telling us what to wear, eat and buy? Especially when it’s coming from those who arguably don’t have any professional knowledge to offer us other than their own popularity. Or, do they have more to offer than we give them credit for?

How do we define the influence these social media stars have over us?

Framework: Digital Influence Pillars by Brian Solis (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Simply Measured  explains that there are three defining factors when determining whether an individual has this power online.

  • Reach– Can they touch an audience that is beneficial to your brand?
  • Resonance– Is their content engaging and does it resonate with their audience and your brands values?
  • Relevance– Does their content have relevance or does your brand share likeminded values with the individual (Smitha 2014)?

One thing that isn’t mentioned here is the number of followers, or amount of reach the influencer must have-  huge numbers aren’t always important, being able to have influence over smaller-niche markets could be just as valuable.

Gen Z will be the first generation that interacted with technology and social media essentially from birth.  Brands are now learning that to market to these young people- they have to change with the times. A printed ad in a newspaper simply won’t have the same impact anymore. It has to be online, and it has to grab their attention in a shorter space of time.

The average American’s attention span is down to eight seconds from 12 in 2000. That’s why Gen Z prefers quick communication, largely rooted in images, quick videos and emojis. (Hulyk 2015, p32)
student_pad_school by Brad Flickinger (CC BY 2.0)

Hulyk  (2015, p.34) mentions a study conducted by Variety in 2014 that surveyed Gen Z to determine who , based on a number of factors was viewed more favourably to them- celebrities or YouTube stars.  Based on their approachability, authenticity and influence- all five individuals that were chosen were Youtube stars. This generation listen more to people they can relate to.

We hear of influencers charging exorbitant amounts for one post, but is it really worth it and how can we determine an appropriate cost? Australian Influencer agency TRIBE created a ballpark rate card for what influencers could charge per post according to their research.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 5.19.05 pm
2016, ‘Rate Card’ – Source: TRIBE

What this doesn’t take into account is the influencers who are buying followers and faking their engagement.  I have personally seen acquaintances churning out the sponsored posts to their 15k+ followers- 10k of which are fake.  Some would argue that misrepresenting your following online and charging a premium rate could essentially be cyber fraud.  Gillin and Moore (2009, p. 77) say that ‘there is no one metric, formula or service that can reliably measure influence’.   So basically brands are left with the option to do their own research and to use their common sense before shelling out the big bucks.

The above graphic from Social Media Today (click on the link in the tweet), shows that brands struggle most with finding influencers that are relevant.  They are also skeptical of its validity since it is such a new form of marketing. ‘When everyone is free to produce whatever content they want and publish it without fact checking or compliance, how can online recommendations be trusted'(Brown & Fiorella 2013, np.)?

Scott Disick did exactly what brands are scared influencers will do-not taking their position seriously and abusing that trust- motivated entirely by the pay-off and not by the want to create quality, engaging content.  Whatever you do, just don’t be like this Di(si)ck. #FacePalm.

2016, ‘Instagram Star Accidentally Posts Paid Sponsor Instructions in Caption’ – Source: PetaPixel


Smitha, M 2014, ‘How to define, Identify and Engage Social Media Influencers For Your Brand’, Simply Measured, weblog post, 2 April, retrieved 16 August 2016, < >

Hulyk, T 2015, ‘MARKETING TO GEN Z: Uncovering a New World of Social Media Influencers’, Franchising World, Vol. 47 Issue 12, p32-35, retrieved 16 August 2016, Database: MasterFILE Premier

Gillin, P, Moore, G 2009, The New InfluencersA Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media, Quill Driver Books, California

Hutchinson 2016, Challenges of Influencer Marketing, infographic, retrieved 16 August 2016, < >

Brown, D, Fiorella, S 2013, Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, Que Publishing, USA

Cade, D 2016, ‘Instagram Star Accidentally Posts Paid Sponsor Instructions in Caption’, PetaPixel, weblog post, 20 May, retrieved 16 August 2016, < >