Social Media’s Role in Changing the Media Industry

By Jennifer Martinez n9459847

Given the technologically advanced society we live in today, it is no surprise that the world around us has changed in almost all aspects. Consequently, different industries have had to change and adapt because of the affordances offered by social media platforms. Although this has caused a massive impact, these changes are neither good or bad. They instead have caused us to consider the shifting attitudes towards technology. In particular, the social, cultural, economic, legal and political implications of social media use. This shift is especially prevalent in the news media industry, where social media plays a specific role in shaping professional identity. It has facilitated a change in the nature of news media, the professionals working in it, and the relationships between professionals and audiences.

More often than not, people are turning to social media platforms to consume their daily dose of news. It is because of this that news media is undergoing its most fundamental transformation. There is an obvious paradigm shift when it comes to traditional news media practices and how news media operates now. In order to understand what changes have occurred we must first take a look at how people would traditionally consume the news. Australian television first commenced in 1956, which is how news would traditionally be consumed (Television.AU 2017). Families would gather around the TV and wait for the 7pm scheduled news bulletin (Television.AU 2017). Alongside television, families would also consume news through newspapers and radio. Now that there are numerous new media practices and platforms available to us, there has been a shift from a static information ‘push’ from producers to consumers, to a much more dynamic participation (Cassidy 2017). Audiences can now consume their daily news through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, online news sites and many others. The news is now instantaneous, which has caused a large shift in media practice. The affordances of these new media platforms have ultimately altered the consumption, production and transmission of news (Cassidy 2017). This can also be understood through the concept of convergence. As Flew (2014, 5) states: “it is generally agreed that convergence is a multifaceted concept, not only incorporating technological changes, but also pointing to wider changes in industry structures, audience, or user behaviours, cultural forms and communicative practises”. In news media, this relates in particular to cross media convergence, where the same content is “pushed across different technologies” (Cassidy 2017). For example, a Seven News news story can not only be accessed through television but through their online news website, Twitter and Facebook account. This is now possible because of new media practices and social media affordances.

These pictures show the 7 News convergence that has occurred due to social media affordances and the change in news delivery.

Images sourced from: 4

However, these changes confronting journalists are too frequently understood as a crisis (ACM 2017). As stated by The Conversation (2016): “we’ve left behind a world where established news brands could rely on reaching large audiences and hence secure advertising revenues”. Many believe that the change within news media is a threat to power, expertise and social order (Cassidy 2017). However, it is not as simple as ‘this shift in industry practices is bad for the individuals involved’. Instead, it is crucial, now more than ever, for journalists and news media organisations to learn how to incorporate Twitter and Facebook into everyday practices in order to adapt and make new opportunities for these new media practices.

Only until very recent, journalism was something reserved for a select few who had the training and resources to break and produce compelling news stories (Huffington Post 2013).  A system which we would traditionally consider to be the most accurate and reliable way to get information. However, now thanks to social media, there has been a fundamental transition where information flows widely and allows it to be ubiquitous and accessible to all. Through the affordance of different social media platforms, users can now create and generate their own content. These new media practices have caused the blurring of distinctions between professionals and amateurs (Cassidy 2017). Flew (2014, 6) describes: “the rise of user-created content, which generates a growing convergence of media producers and consumers, is at the point where traditional distinctions between professional media content creators and media audiences are becoming increasing blurred”. For example, if we compare two successful travel writers writing for different platforms, it is evident that there are obvious differences in their chosen profession. Lauren McMah, is a qualified travel writer for the popular online news website Although she is successfully working at a news media organisation, her following is not nearly as grand as Mollie Bylett’s. The travel and lifestyle blogger, with almost 50,000 followers on Instagram alone, has been praised highly by her own travel experiences and has consequently become a micro media celebrity. Bruns describes this idea as “sharing what we know” whilst levelling the playing field (Cassidy 2017). Furthermore, through the affordances of different platforms, the concept of marginalisation is increasingly avoided due to the overwhelming participation of once invisible audiences.

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 10.24.34 amScreen Shot 2017-04-09 at 6.25.30 pm

These pictures show Mollie Bylett as a ‘media celebrity’ and demonstrate the impact of social media in regards to the blurring of distinction.

Images sourced from:

Social media has facilitated a shift in relationships between audiences and the news media industry. Through the affordances of social media, consumers have become increasingly crucial to news media. As Rosen (2006) states: “… those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly whilst the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another – and who today are not in a situation like that at all” (Cassidy 2017). New media news now has to value consumers as “consumer affiliates” (Cassidy 2017). Whereby, formerly known as audiences, are often playing a role in providing breaking news by posting photos or videos of a news event (Natcom Global 2015).  A recent example of this, is when Eva Milic, a Nine News TV news presenter, turned to the public and asked them for pictures and videos of affected areas surrounding them during the floods after ex-cyclone Debbie hit Brisbane. These pictures were used by the news media company within their stories and then published across multiple platforms including Twitter and on their news website. Jenkins (In Fuchs 2014, 4) defines this as participatory culture, “in which fans and other consumers are invited to actively participate in the creation and circulation of new content”. However, certain problems of concepts like ‘participatory culture’ arise because participation “is strongly connected to participatory democracy theory and authors” (Fuchs 2014, 4). This consequently means that issues arise such as exploitation, or in particular the issue regarding audiences being used as commodities (Cassidy 2017). Although, there are shifting attitudes and cultural constructions in society that lead to believe that there is a social construction of technology. This is the belief that people have the power and therefore believe new media practices involve changes for the better.

Social media’s place in society’s future is still unknown. Though it has helped shape the world as it is known now and it will no doubt continue to shape future cultural, social, economic, legal and political aspects. The news media industry in particular has already fallen victim to this change. Consequently, there has been a shift in how the nature of the news media industry operates, shifts in audience’s relationships with media giants and it has also changed the way professionals who work in the industry are perceived. Although there have been drastic and fundamental changes across the entire industry it is important to always consider how and why social media has changed the industry, instead of the good and bad behind the changes.



ACM. 2017. “New Media, Part 1: Redefining Journalism” Accessed April 7, 2017.

Bylett, Mollie. 2017. “My Latest Adventures.” Where’s Mollie? Blog, April 7. Accessed April 8, 2017.

Cassidy, Elija. 2017. “KCB206 – Week 1.” Accessed April 7, 2017.

Cassidy, Elija. 2017. “KCB206 – Week 2.” Accessed April 7, 2017.

Cassidy, Elija. 2017. “KCB206 – Week 5.” Accessed April 8, 2017.

Flew, Terry. 2014. “Chapter 1: Introduction to New Media.” In New Media, 1-17. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.  Accessed April 7, 2017.

Fuchs, Christian. 2014. “Social Media as Participatory Nature.” In Social Media: A Critical Introduction, 52-68. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Accessed April 8, 2017.

Huffington Post. 2013. “How Social Media is Supporting a Fundamental Shift in Journalism.” Accessed April 8, 2011.

Natcom Global. 2015. “How Social Media is Shifting The Way News is Comsumed.” Accessed April 8, 2017.

Nine News Queensland. 2017. “Inundated with raging flood waters rising, all southeast could do was hit record on the event 100 years in the making. @EvaMilic9 #9News”. Twitter post, March 2017. Accessed 8 April, 2013.

Television.AU. 2017. “1950-1959” Accessed April 7, 2017.

Television.AU. 2017. “Monday 19 November 1956 – Melbourne” Accessed April 7, 2017.

The Conversation Media Group Ltd. 2016. “Social media is changing our digital news habits – but to varying degrees in US and UK” Accessed April 7, 2017.

7 Sport. 2017. “Winx makes it 17 in a row at Randwick.” Accessed April 8, 2017.

7News Brisbane. 2017. “Triumph and tragedy at Royal Randwick today as Sydney’s wonder mare Winx did it again, romping to her 17th straight victory. However, the Championships were overshadowed by the mid race cancellation of the Sydney Cup. Jockeys James Doyle and Blake Shinn escaped serious injury, along with Shinn’s mount Who Shot Thebarman. The horse that fell, Almoonqith, had to be put down. Story: Download the 7 News app: #Racing #7News”. Facebook status update, April 8. Accessed 8 April, 2017.

7News Queensland. 2017. “Sydney’s wonder mare Winx did it again, romping to her 17th straight victory. #Winx #7News”. Twitter post, April 2017. Accessed 8 April, 2013.


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