As pointed out in my post The Impact of Social Media on Democracy I recently went to a Panel Discussion with Jian Gomeshi @jiangomeshi in Vancouver. Jian had invited a great Media Panel to discuss the impact of Social Media

Watch the whole show here

The Panelists were:

Alfred Hermida @Hermida
Tara Mahoney @genwhymedia
Ian Hanomancing @CBCIan
Frances Bula @fabulavancouver

It is easy to see that what we call Social Media today is well on the way to become a major factor in our lives. This change parallels our desire for taking charge of our lives. Social Media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube make all users equal. I (theoretically) have the same option to create a Media Outlet as the professional publisher.

Since the invention of Print, Radio and TV Media Journalists and Publishers have shaped the way we consume news. In the free world most of us trust the professionalism of those we train to be our journalists to sort the flood of news pieces for us. Social Media tools like Twitter are changing this now…. or are they?

Please watch this 2 minute video to hear what the panel said:

Who is holding the mike now? ~Tara Mahoney @genwhymedia

I agree with Tara except for the limitation to the younger generation. With the rapid acceptance of Social Media tools by people of all ages the same applies to all of us. I too am skeptical of major news networks – too often have I heard the same story reported on CNN while CBC reported the same event with a totally different angle. In our current local election we see “traditional” news sources reporting very selectively while the “raw” twitter feed gives us real-time views by everyone who wants to contribute.

Why is a tweet from a 15 year old better than a piece of a trained Journalist? ~Ian Hanomancing @CBCIan

In my opinion: Because I have spent time on these platforms I have built trust in the sources. Because I get the perspective of many I can filter out myself what to believe. Being fortunate enough to grow up and live in free countries I have done this all my life. I have always taken information from varying news sources. Today I have the raw information in real time. I don’t have to wait for someone to report to me what happened hours or days ago.

So, Is Twitter a News Network?

Hear what the Panel is saying:

So, why are two panelist agreeing with me in saying “there is News on Twitter” and the more traditional Media panelists “Twitter is fluff” (apologies for the rough summary) ?

I think that, with all due respect Mr Hanomancing and Ms Bula are focusing on the present and not the ongoing and future change in our world. These changes are threatening the existence of the traditional understanding of a “Journalist”.

Like in many other industries in other times of revolution the mindset is changing. Journalists have to change from focusing on the medium (the Newspaper Article, the TV Newscast…) to focusing on the individual piece of reporting. I believe that in the very near future only journalists that deliver high quality, balanced reporting placed on freely accessible platforms will continue to be heard. As we have learned from other shifts of this nature people will find a way to make a living as a journalist.

I for my part am more than happy that I have the choice. I as a news-consumer have the choice to filter the information on my own. I have the power to be my own Reporter, Editor and Publisher – my long term success will purely depend on the quality of my “journalism” and the Network and trust I built with the help of Social Media

What do you think?

  • Do you see a future in traditional News Media?

  • Are we there yet? Do you filter your own News?

Published by Frithjof

Digital media strategist, coach, community manager and CEO of BlueBird Business Consulting. Blogger, podcaster, content creator and teacher with a passion. Favourite quote: “To succeed in the business of the future we have to become the very people we are trying to reach” ~ Brian Solis

Join the Conversation


  1. When reading or watching news, whether on Twitter, CNN, CBC or the New York Times, I try to apply critical thinking skills before I accept what is in front of me as fact. I was lucky enough to have a 4th grade teacher that made us read newspapers and make reports to the class on current events. The process taught me a lot about how to ask the next question.

    Twitter IS a source of news. It’s a source of personal news, about our real life and online friends that we share with on Twitter. And it’s a source of “news news” — the kind of news that tells us what’s going on in the world, from Arab countries to London riots, to local elections. There is extraneous noise on Twitter, too. Twitter is kind of like real life but more succinct.

    Richard Engle is the Chief Foreign Correspondent for NBC News. I watch his reports on MSNBC, NBC, and I follow his tweets (@richardengelnbc). Here is a respected journalist who has embraced Twitter as a means of getting timely information out of dangerous situations in dangerous places. I give his tweets high credibility because he is on the ground, not in a studio, and because I respect him as a reporter.

    I gather from watching the video clips here that Ian Hanomansing feels either threatened by Twitter, or demeaned by it or both. Resistance is likely futile. Even Peter Mansbridge tweets (@petermansbridge). What I like about Peter Mansbridge’s tweets is that he also listens to and engages with people who follow him.

    What separates Mansbridge’s tweets from those of a 15-year-old is the experience he’s had and the time he’s taken to build up credibility with his followers. He was probably dragged into Twitter kicking as screaming along with Hanomansing by some edict at the CBC. The difference here is that one of them decided to ask the next question, and the other decided to stamp his foot and insist that he’s better than the rest of us.

    Often I can get the news I need from Twitter. “Gordon Dr construction backup brutal” tells me what I need to know. What traditional news outlets can do to improve their credibility is go a little beyond that and tell me why in the h-e-double-toothpicks there is always construction on Gordon Dr in July! Where does the money come from? What’s the expected outcome? When will it end?

    Take that to a national or international level, and add some value to the information that’s now readily available. Understand what you’re reporting on and act like a journalist. You don’t have to filter the news for me, you just have to provide the context so I can filter it for myself.

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