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Rob Horowitz: Social Media: Key Component of the ‘New’ News Media

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


As the new mainly digital news media structure takes shape, it is clear that social media is emerging as a key component, believes Rob Horowitz.

One of the major takeaways from “State of the News Media 2014’ released last week by Pew Research Journalism Project is the growing role in the distribution and even production of news played by social media. The ability of people to share with their friends and family the articles and videos they think are important and interesting is democratizing a gatekeeping power over information that used to be mainly in the hands of newspaper editors and television news directors. Facebook and other social media sites are also a way for more casual news consumers to get information ‘incidentally’ while they are going to these sites for other reasons, potentially expanding the number of citizens better informed about public affairs.

Getting news from social media sites

About half of Facebook and Twitter users get news from these sites, according to the Pew report. For Facebook alone, given its widespread use, this translates to 3-in-10 American adults getting at least some news while on the site. For an overwhelming majority of Facebook news consumers, finding news is not one of the prime reasons they spend time on Facebook. They do so as almost an accidental part of catching up with the posts of family members and friends. A Pew survey respondent captured this process, ”I believe Facebook is a good way to find out news without actually looking for it.”

Further, the age group that gets news at the highest rates from Facebook is 18-to-29 year olds—an age group that tends to be less engaged with more traditional sources of news. This age group also contains the highest percentage of people who watch news videos posted on Facebook.

Most of the posts containing news stories that people read on Facebook come from family and friends—not as a result of ‘liking’ and as a result receiving posts from news outlets or individual journalists. Research shows that people by and large “are interested in the news they receive from family and friends, and curious enough about it to seek out more details.” In other words, the traditional agenda-setting role played by the news media, signaling what is important to know about, is now in some measure being played by the rest of us as we share what we believe is important on social media.

Citizen journalism

More and more social network users are not only posting and sharing news stories produced by traditional media sources; they are posting their own videos and photos of news events. Fourteen percent of social media users have posted a photo they took of a news event and 12% have posted their own video of a news event. This trend is part of the rise of ‘citizen journalism’ where citizens do their own reporting and fill some of the vacuum created by the ongoing dramatic reduction of local reporting by newspapers. For example, one of the main sources of information about Super-Storm Sandy and its continuing aftermath at the hard hit New Jersey Shore is “Jersey Shore Hurricane News” a Facebook site begun by an enterprising regular citizen, Justin Auciello.

As the new mainly digital news media structure takes shape, it is clear that social media is emerging as a key component. This positive development gives all of us the ability to share what we believe is important for people to know and to even produce news ourselves. This truly democratic development bodes well. However, it is up to each of us to use this new power wisely and well.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island


Related Slideshow: The Living History of the Telegram and Gazette

From contamination to a sale, and injunction to layoffs, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has been through quite an interesting run in a very short time. Since 2012, GoLocal has been chronicling the goings on of Worcester's only daily printed newspaper. Take a look at our coverage:

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April 6, 2012

T&G Massive Layoff: A Harsh Reality For Ex-Employees

If the Worcester Telegram & Gazette was offering alternatives for the 64 employees it is laying off, Luis Lopez didn’t get the memo.
“I knew it was coming, but it’s hard,” the 37-year-old father of two girls said of being laid off Monday from the job he held for six years at the T&G’s Millbury printing plant. “When I came here, they promised me they would not lay me off. Now look at me.”
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June 22, 2012

NY Times Corp Leaves Taxpayer on the Hook for Contamination in Worcester

The New York Times Company has sold a contaminated Worcester Telegram and Gazette building to a local development agency, leaving taxpayers on the hook for potentially up to $1.1 million in cleanup costs.

Before the sale, Telegram and Gazette publisher Bruce Gaultney publicly promised that the building was “not a brownfield.”

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June 27, 2012

NY Times Company Agrees to Pay for Cleanup

The New York Times Company announced that they have agreed to pay for cleanup costs associated with contamination left at the former location of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette at 18-20 Franklin Street.
The announcement comes just days after a GoLocalWorcester investigative report that unveiled that the property was a brownsfield site, despite claims by the publisher that it was not.  The non-profit Worcester Business Development Corporation, which bought the property, is receiving government funds to pay for the cleanup of the former newspaper headquarters.
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July 2, 2012

T&G Building Contamination Has Unions Concerned

Two local unions are concerned about the health hazards at the former Telegram & Gazette building, after the NY Times Company sold the property to a local nonprofit and the building was declared a brownfield site.
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July 10, 2012

NY Times Co Only Commits to 10% of Cleanup Cost

The NY Times Company is only committed to paying 10% of costs to cleanup the hazardous materials at the T&G building, leaving taxpayers footing most of the $1.1 million bill to clean up asbestos, lead, and other contaminants.
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July 11, 2013

Taxpayers Demand Accountability for T&G Cleanup

Local taxpayers are demanding that the NY Times Company takes responsibility and pays for the T&G cleanup.
Thus far, the corporation has only offered to pay for 10% of the estimated $1.1 million cleanup costs to rid the building of asbestos, lead, and other hazardous contaminants.
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July 13, 2012

Officials Call for NY Times to Clean Up T&G Contamination

Massachusetts legislators, candidates, and councilors are calling for the NY Times to contribute more money for the cleanup of the T&G building contamination. Across the board and across the aisle, they say there’s a need for more corporate responsibility and taxpayers should not be stuck with the bill when a large company is involved.
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July 24, 2012

Worcester Telegram, Boston Globe Facing Layoffs

The Boston Globe and Worcester T&G are facing layoffs and buyouts, affecting a total of about fifty employees between the two markets. Both newspapers are owned by the same media group which is a subsidiary of the New York Times Company.
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February 7, 2013

Murray Says T&G May Have to Pay Up for Building Contamination

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray said that the brownfield site cleanup at the former home of the Worcester Telegram may still take some funding from the former owner, the NY Times Co. The building was sold by the news company after an estimated $1.1 million in cleanup costs to remove asbestos, lead, and other contaminants.
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February 20, 2013

Worcester Telegram, Boston Globe Up For Sale

The New York Times Company announced on Wednesday that the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Boston Globe and their related websites are up for sale.
The company has retained Evercore Partners to advise and manage the sales process of the two newspapers, along with the other related properties contained within the New York Times Co.'s New England Media Group.
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August 3, 2013

Boston Globe and Telegram Sold - Lose 94% of Value

The New York Times Company has dumped the Boston Globe, Worcester Telegram and some other holdings for less than 6% of what they had paid for the combined assets over the past three decades. John Henry's sports and media group will pay approximately $70 million.
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August 5, 2013

http://www.golocalprov.com/business/29273/">What the Experts Say About the Boston Globe and Telegram Sale
On Saturday morning, August 3, at 3 A.M., the New York Times Company confirmed the sale of the Boston Globe, Worcester Telegram, and other New England assets to John Henry in an all-cash, $70 million deal.
Go Local reached out to top experts on media to get their perspective on the transaction, and insights as to what this means for the future of the paper, as well as industry as a whole. The Boston Globe, once the biggest force in media, has been in decline over the past decade, and now faces an uncertain future.
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August 18, 2013

Starkman: For the Telegram & Gazette, a Moment of Opportunity

The tectonic shifts changing the global media landscape are rolling through Southeastern New England, right on schedule.
The media empire of the Providence Journal’s parent company, Dallas-based A.H. Belo, has been coming apart for years, and now, with the sale last week of its Riverside, California, operation, the Press-Enterprise, down to just two main properties. The hope here is that the Projo will, too, be sold before long and end the chronic and debilitating cycle of downsizing for the newsroom and bonuses for the executive suite that has marked the Belo regime.
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October 23, 2013

John Henry Faces T&G Labor Dispute And Globe Toxic Waste

For John Henry, the St. Louis Cardinals may pale in comparison to the challenges he faces with the Telegram & Gazette and the Boston Globe. In Worcester, he’s now dealing with a temporary restraining order that blocks his purchase of the two papers. In Boston, the Globe’s headquarters sit on land that is highly contaminated.
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October 24, 2013

Injunction Blocking Globe Sale Lifted

Judge Shannon Frison of Worcester Superior Court has lifted an injunction blocking the sale of the Boston Globe, and affiliated Worcester Times & Gazette, to Red Sox owner John Henry. On Thursday afternoon, the judge ruled removed the order which was requested as part of a lawsuit filed by former Telegram & Gazette adult carriers.

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