Journalism is the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television while Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment on contents among themselves in virtual communities and networks.
The impact of social media in the communication system cannot be overemphasized as traditional media has undoubtedly taken an onward progressive turn in achieving its core assignments of educating, informing and entertaining its audience; the Nigerian populace.
The consistent and goal-driven use of social media has filled the interactive and investigative vacuum found in the traditional media in Nigeria and the entire world. Hitherto this new age of journalism, reporters were only able to practice the time-sensitive profession within a certain constrained environment which permitted the Nigerian journalist to find facts from physically available sources.
Today, the Nigerian journalist can boast of new skills in news gathering and better accuracy in reporting the opinion of the people. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google + have been used to monitor trends and gather intelligence in regards to the opinion of the masses.
Take for instance events which have garnered much attention as a result of activities on social media. Thousands of Nigerians joined Twitter during and after the subsidy protest (OccupyNigeria) of 2012, the death of four UNIPORT students (ALUU4) caused a nationwide outcry against ‘jungle justice,’ the video of a policeman caught extorting a motorist went viral online and has now found its way into TV and radio.
These events were either instigated or projected online as a result of the use of social media platforms by those who witnessed and shared the details.
The ability of the social media to breed interactivity has caused the audience to exit its passive shell and enter into a new sphere of activity. This has helped in a number of other sectors in the economy; most especially politics and education. Worthy of note is the fact that social media has helped traditional media to gain its lost audience (youths).
With the rise in social media usage, Nigerian youths, who scarcely subscribed to the print media, have now cultivated a healthy habit of keeping abreast of events in the country.
Social media has impacted Nigerian journalism in the area of reporting as new features i-reports which allows individuals report events in real time in any case where an official correspondent is not on ground.
The integration of social media in news gathering and delivery has also enabled the Nigerian journalist to work in a capacity that totally erases the restrictions of distance. Today, interviews are conducted via email correspondence, Twitter conversations, Skype video chats etc.
Breaking News! This feature has been redefined since the advent of social media in Nigerian journalism. Journalists can now break news as they happen with supporting files such as pictures taken and posted alongside headlines.
Live broadcasts have been made possible online via web streaming. In most cases, the audience is able to participate and give feedback via the comments section which allows the reporter access to instant feedback.
The World Wide Web evolves daily; so does the social media. This means traditional media will yet experience even more changes and growth in times to come.
Written by Mayowa Ogundele, an online journalist with Channels Television, creative writer and aspiring broadcaster. Follow her via Twitter @Ohluwamayowa and Google+, Mayowa Ogundele.