Social media might not literally be taking over the world, but in most markets, social outlets are seen as the “go-to” for breaking news: 71% of 18- to 29-year-olds cite the internet as a main news source. By many people’s standards, Twitter is the best tool not only to read about news but also to report on an event with real-time updates. Roughly half of both Twitter and Facebook users get news from those sites. Unlike traditional news outlets, social media has the ability to report on an international network in a split second, without needing time to edit, seek approval, or print.
Use of mobile devices is shifting the habits of citizens searching for news as well. 85% of Twitter users, 64% of Facebook users, and 40% of the general population get news of some kind at least sometimes on their mobile devices, according to the survey.
With almost 2 billion social network users worldwide, we’re seeing trends of users themselves becoming the real-time digital journalists. As earthquakes hit the neighborhoods of Southern California, as Peyton Manning throws the winning touchdown, or as Mittens the cat is saved from a tree, Twitter users are the first to report, making the 10:00pm news feel hours behind!
So what’s next? At this point the top-level trend is social media news consumption. While news outlets are already taking full advantage of social channels, nothing can beat the bystander recording an event as it unfolds, broadcasting it across their social networks. Users are keeping the world at large in the loop and up-to-date on breaking news. Does this signal the beginning of the end for nightly news broadcasts, or can news reporters never be trumped by those reporting with only their cellphones? Where do you get your news?