Two weeks ago perhaps only a few people knew who George Floyd, was. But today millions know that name. The man murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis.
The name George Floyd has become the flag that further highlighted and exposed racism, police brutality and the unjust killings of black people by the police in America.
Thanks to the social journalist who took out his phone and started recording the incident leading to George Floyd’s death and sharing the gruesome incident on social media. Consequently, a great number of people the world over have now seen and indeed shared their views on that knee to the back of the neck that ended a life.
News happens fast in today’s world. It therefore goes without saying that today’s story will be tomorrow’s forgotten story. It is easy to miss things now because of how quick stories can get turned around and shared. While having so much information at our fingertips is great, it is worth always remembering that it can spark all sorts of commotion and mass anger which in my view scares the ‘shit’ out of politicians and governments that like to control news the audience consume.
Social media platforms have indeed given power to the citizens to circumvent mainstream media which most times is used to peddle a narrative in ways that aid government propaganda and helps control and suppress access to undiluted information to the masses.
Before being able to understand the relationship between social media and journalism, it’s vital to explain journalism’s purpose and troubles within the media industry as a whole. Journalism in its purest form is about witnessing events and recording them for others to see and read. Indeed, journalism is about listening to those who have a story to tell either via written words, spoken words or recorded moving images.
It was through “Social Journalism that we got to see and today we know about George Floyd and the way he died.
It was courtesy of a “social journalist” that Americans said enough is enough to racist inspired police brutality.
The impact of social media does not stop online, it is part of a much larger sphere of influence and although social media may initially create a certain buzz regarding an incident such as that of George Floyd’s death, overall the power of it creates word of mouth advocacy. The media world and the way news is reported is rapidly changing and it is more relevant than ever to engage in social journalism and news distribution with the expanding and forever progressing ‘social media’. This is perhaps an important lesson for the developing so-called ‘3rd world’ countries to embrace as a tool to expose brutes that govern and rule over them with impunity.
State sponsored murders in Zimbabwe, Nigeria or Russia for that matter should be exposed on social media.
Social media has empowered citizen journalism and indeed it is governing and revolutionising the system in which the media operates and social journalism can no longer be disregarded. As a result social journalists are currently taking a much more proactive method to exposing police brutality and reporting on social ills that affect their local societies and reporting them through use of their social media.
Gone are the days of waiting for the mainstream media channels for breaking stories or reading gossip magazines for the latest celebrity dirt. We now have all the information we need at the touch of an app and most people now get their news information online, specifically from social media.
It is now generally accepted that social media is an influential and commanding force that has helped expose the ills such as racism and indeed, police brutality and even murder as was the case with George Floyd.
Social media has become the main source of news online with more than 2.4 billion internet users, it is said nearly 64.5 percent receive breaking news from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram instead of traditional media.
It is no wonder that thousands across America took to the streets that had for weeks been empty due to COVID-19. They defied health guidance and lockdown rules in protest over what is widely seen as the racist inspired death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
It was footage by a social journalist that sparked widespread spontaneous protests across America and indeed caused an international backlash on America, with solidarity protest in London, England and as far afield as New Zealand.
No doubt that in today’s world simply making information available is not enough for today’s public. Today’s audiences expect to be able to choose what they read, and most believe they should be able to contribute content and opinions, too. This shift, sometimes called the social media revolution, is not the death of journalism as some may argue but, it is the birth of a democratic movement that emphasizes some of journalism’s key factors: transparency, honesty, and giving a voice to the person who doesn’t have one.
A Zambian blogger Lillian Mutambo (a.k.a Gelo wa paZed) has embraced social journalism and uses her blog to expose corruption in Zambia and the Chinese take over of Zambia. She has been using social media to expose the abuse of Zambian workers by Chinese employers. Today many who may have not known the name Miles Sampa, now know the mayor of Lusaka. He is the man who challenged Chinese businesses in his city that were mistreating workers.
Social media has given power to social journalism and it is indeed, changing the way news and events are reported and consumed.
Mainstream media houses were once the only players responsible for writing our articles for the morning paper and giving us breaking news on TV and radio. But that’s not the case anymore. They are now trying to keep up with bloggers, citizen journalists, tweeters and anyone with the ability to operate a handheld device that can post information. Social journalism is now the go to place for breaking news.
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