The Emergence of News Influencers: A New Era in Journalism
This article delves into the changing landscape of journalism, highlighting the shift towards news consumption via social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. It examines the emergence of 'news influencers' and their impact on the traditional news industry.
News consumption has dramatically shifted in recent years, with consumers increasingly turning to social media platforms for their daily news intake. This change has seen a surge in the popularity of independent news creators on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, marking a new era in journalism.
“These creator pages that cover news stories have more impact and reach than traditional media” - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh.
The Rise of News Influencers
Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh, a journalism graduate from Rutgers University, is a prime example of this new generation of news influencers. Instead of entering a traditional newsroom, Al-Khatahtbeh built his digital news brand catering to the Muslim community. His account, @Muslim, has since amassed over 2 million followers on TikTok and more than 5.3 million on Instagram.
This shift towards social media platforms for news consumption is driven by a desire for more accessible, informal, and entertaining news formats, often delivered by influencers rather than journalists. According to Britain's Office of Communications, young adults in the United Kingdom now watch TikTok more than broadcast television.
The Impact on Traditional Media
While some national publications like the New York Times and The Washington Post have seen their digital audiences grow, the economics of journalism have shifted. Well-known news outlets have experienced a decline in traffic from social media sites, and some of the advertising money that would have previously been spent with them is now going toward creators.
“There are no reasonable grounds for expecting that those born in the 2000s will suddenly come to prefer old-fashioned websites, let alone broadcast and print, simply because they grow older,” says Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute.
The Ramifications of the Shift
The rise of independent online news producers has implications for society that are still coming into focus. One positive impact is a more diverse media ecosystem, where a more comprehensive array of voices can challenge narratives fashioned by traditional journalism. However, this also serves to undercut the authority of legacy news organizations, draining support from newsrooms that are a primary source of original reporting.
The Role of Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms have played a significant role in this shift, although their relationships with news content creators can be complex. Recently, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, stated that he intended for something other than the platform to be a place for news and journalism. Conversely, YouTube organized an incubator program for news content creators in the United States, Canada, and Australia this spring.
The Future of Journalism
News industry experts are watching the shifting media landscape with skepticism and curiosity. Bill Grueskin, a professor at Columbia Journalism School, sees the rise of news influencers as “the logical conclusion of the atomization of news media and an extension of trends that have been happening for quite a while.”
However, he voices concerns about losing original reporting as most news content creators aggregate or comment on news from traditional sources. Yet, the primary source of much of that journalism — legacy media institutions — is viewed with growing distrust, especially among young people.