New media, social media, cyber media or any other name it may receive, it is now within the informative trends the coolest next-big-thing. For marketing communications, business, customer feedback and support. Or internal communications in the corporate sphere. And for professional networking or simply to expand your friendships. Facebook, YouTube, Google, and the microblogging of Twitter application – new kinds of tweet – altogether have transcended the communication frontiers.
These sites are increasingly turning into common places for individuals in other times accustomed to obtain information by opening a newspaper, for executives who used to do corporate communications by sending a regular email. Or politicians campaigning in town hall meetings. The informative trends are changing to a lighting speed. It’s the cyberspace era.
Nowadays, it seems that no website –including mainstream media’s- is validated in some sort of cyber-status if it doesn’t have presence in one of those previously mentioned so called social media. Editors at The New York Times tweet its headlines. JetBlue offers discounted flights to various destinations, also through Twitter. Just to mention a couple of examples.
But the fusion of social media and journalism is one interesting phenomenon most explicitly experienced recently, through the coverage of the Iran conflict, after the presidential election of June 12, 2009 and the alleged electoral fraud.
Only source of information
Dozens of tweets and video posts by supporters of opposition candidate of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, gave testimony to the world. This is violence on the streets of Teheran. Mainstream media around the world was being skeptical about the veracity of the images and mini-blogs describing the repression. But they had no more remedy than using such materials as the only source of information. This was because the allegedly re-elected president prohibited the press to report any events related to the election in Iran.
Twitter and Facebook were both reportedly blocked in Iran previous to Election Day -since May 23, but Iranians found ways to continue to post the news day-by-day. This process has been named as collaborative journalism or social journalism. Yes, and it all happened mainly through Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. It is a powerful way of distributing information. It can help people in repressive regimes to spread the news. Now, with the ability of providing instantaneous feedback, bypassing restrictions and –some say- changing the nature of politics.
According to social media guru Chris Brogan, Twitter is a tool capable of transforming the communications landscape. Although time will tell, the only truth is that more and more people from arts to politics are using social media in their own benefit and for many purposes.
Never stopping new technologies
From real-time blackberry tweets during a peace rally -or while running for your life trapped in crossed fire of drug cartels; from the discovery of the amazing voice of Susan Boyle in YouTube, to the 15-year old Australian girl notified in Facebook of her parents death while in vacation…social media will continue to modify communication processes through the never stopping new emerging technologies. We’re here to witness and participate; history will do its part.