I asked my communication class, made up of primarily freshmen and sophomores, what their news and information sources are.
The top three answers were Facebook, Twitter and “people I know.” (The New York Times, which is distributed free in the communications building, was the first mainstream news source listed.)
This isn’t surprising to many journalists who have been paying attention. From the New York Times in March 2007: Ms. Buckingham recalled conducting a focus group where one of her subjects, a college student, said, “If the news is that important, it will find me.”
Problem is, I get the idea that enough journalists aren’t paying attention.
Five years later, many editors and publishers aren’t on Facebook or Twitter. Of those who are, many don’t engage with people beyond promoting stories in their own publications. I should also include television here, too. Only a few of the 33 students mentioned getting news or information from broadcast news. (Their websites got decent numbers, though.)
Though they didn’t use this language, the students essentially described Facebook and Twitter as their own personal news sources — news sources they designed comprised of people they knew and trusted giving them information about both their personal lives and the broader world.
The point? If journalists want to survive — to say nothing of flourish today — they must be part of the conversation of this generation of budding thinkers and news creators and consumers. They need to evaluate all the tools that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. offer and figure out what works for them.