Literature reviewed shows that most scholars believethat social media is impacting negatively on the practice of journalism. Thesescholars mainly argue from a technophobic stand and think social media hasbrought along many changes to the practice of journalism thereby underminingthe work of journalists. Their arguments point out the easy-to-use web publishing tools, popularizationof social media, increasingly powerful mobile devices as well as the activeonline audience that is actively involved in the creation and circulation ofnews and information.
In a 2003 report, New Directions for News argued thatjournalism found itself at an unusual moment in history where its dominance as thegatekeeper of the news is threatened not just by new technology and competitorsbut, possibly, by the audience it served (Rosen, 2005). Orville Schell, of the University ofCalifornia at Berkeley’s journalism school, further acknowledged the impact ofthe audience on journalism. He notedthat the Roman Empire of the mass media was breaking up, and the media wasentering an almost-feudal period where there will be many more struggles ofpower and influence (Rosen, 2005). Oneline of argument is that social media has democratized the media, therefore,challenging the control of traditional news media and its journalists. Scholarsclaim that by doing so, social media was forcing journalists into a precariousposition where they no longer control the interpretation of events andultimately what is published.
Bowman and Willis (2003)argue that “a democratized media challenges the notion of the institutionalpress as the exclusive, privileged, trusted informed intermediary of the news”(p. 47). Gillmor (2004) states that “the communication network itself will be a medium for everyone’s voice,not just the few who can afford to buy multimillion-dollar printing presses,launch satellites, or win the government’s permission to squat on the public’sairwaves” (p. xiii). Bowman and Willis(2003) alsomaintain that while social media platforms are unlikely to replace traditionalmedia as primary intermediaries quickly, they were becoming valued news outletsthat direct their readers to information of interest and help them filter,simplify and clarify news.
As a resultof this journalists are no longer in control of the news agenda as social mediahas empowered ordinary people to be outright producers of news. A specialreport on the news industry in the Economist (2011) acknowledges this stating,”thanks to the rise of social media, news is no longer gathered exclusively byreporters and turned into a story but emerges from an ecosystem in whichjournalists, sources, readers and viewers exchange information.” This meansthat in the social media era people no longer rely solely on journalists for their viewon the world.