19 June, 2012

By Thabo Mongoato
The role of journalists in the social media era
The brief to write an opinion article on “the role of journalist in the social media era” has gotten me thinking, I’ve grown up in the post apartheid era where we have been exposed to computers and cellphones at a young age. Social media sites such as amateur (tumbler) and micro blogging (twitter, facebook) have become the norms and part of our lives in this era. I can’t speak on behalf of most people because I’m an individual and this is an opinion article, so I’ll stick to how I see things. Statistics show that Facebook boasts over 700 million active users, twitter has crossed a scale of over 50 millions tweets per day and YouTube shows an average of 300 million viewers. Those are impressive figures, no wonder the corporates are more inclined to grow their businesses online. It is only natural that more journalists will want to put their work online aimed at the widespread popularity and reach of social media.  This is well and fine but has it changed the role of journalists?
The role of journalists in the social media era.
The role journalists should play has not changed - journalists have changed, or their focus has shifted from what should be important in the country. From fighting against the injustice of apartheid, journalists should be better informed about world events, and resultant impact on SA. Journalists should be fighting for justice, and the liberatory gains post 1994. Offer suggestions and opinions (not necessarily be less objective). Whether they do it on a writing pad or via their fancy apple ipad the immediate challenge is the same and their role shouldn’t change.
The key challenges facing modern journalists
These days most of the journalists are coerced into a certain way of reporting and that is mostly being pro-ANC and if one decides to go against them they are deemed counter revolutionary. In a statement made by Julius Malema the former ANC Youth League president, he called for the elimination of so-called “counter-revolutionary" forces and that right there can change a journalist’s point of view.
The future
Since social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter represent a new class of communication. These platforms have become quickly interwoven into everyday lives of millions of people around the world. They have completely revolutionised the way the world communicates, it would be in our best interest as new crop of journalists to embrace the cyber revolution to reach a larger audience because lets face it,  most people have lost the desire to read books.

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