When the Pairs attack happened, some Chinese students were watching a football game. The first time they heard the explosion, they thought it was the special effect of cheering squad. Once they realized the truth, they post it on WeChat (a Chinese social media), said it was terrible and scary. At the same time, Patrick Zachmann, a photographer for Magnum, was having dinner with his friends. After he was told that shooting was taking place in Pairs, he went with the first batch of police to the Bataclan and used his iPhone to shoot a video and several photos of that terrible night.
Before CNN or BCC reported this news, the information was distributing fast through social media and took it around the world.
According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of U.S. adults use Facebook and 30 percent of them get news on it. Social media is not only traditional platforms to access information, but also a directly and fast source for news.
News cares about timeliness, which also can be considering as speed. The breaking news hits people’s mind because it is being told the first time. Since social media is characterized by openness, conversation, connectedness, community and participation, it has the best advantage of the distribution speed, which even if the cable news cannot compete with, let alone the print.
Journalists could easily release a news briefly and understandably on Twitter or Facebook, or the freelancer could get the information they need from the social media, then collect all useful messages to dig them out and eventually make a great story.
In addition, the social media is also more relevant to our daily life, thus, the language people use on social media is closer to life and easier to read.
Jiawei Zhang, a Chinese freelance, he is studying at Pairs. When the Pairs attack happened, he was at Stade de France. He wrote an article online, which described what he experienced and also selected some confirmable details and messages he heard from others. Then he kept updating information on his social media, attacking huge amount of reading and “Pair attack” hashtag also became the hottest topic.
Another vital factor of news is trueness. Social media lowers the barriers to enter the journalism, that is, everyone can be the one who post news and spread information. Nowadays, people can use an iPhone to complete a series of tasks. For example, it is very easy to shoot videos, and upload it to YouTube; take a couple of photos, write several words, post it on twitter or Facebook with the YouTube link, then a multimedia news is done.
Because there is tons of information releasing on social media, to build a higher credibility of your news or self-brand by providing accurate and trustable news is the most important. Facing the problem of unknown information sources, journalists should be a curator, checking the authenticity and preventing rumors.
All social media users, including content curator and content creators, need to remember, if your mother says she love you, check it out!