The Harbinger Online

The News Methods

Sophomore Katie Crossette sits on her computer watching livestream footage of the Ferguson protests. They are linked to her via Twitter, and another tab is tracking the hashtag and another is open to Tumblr, where her dashboard is flooded with other young adults voicing their rage.
It’s the night of Nov. 24, the day it was decided that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted.
In a survey distributed by the Harbinger, it was reported that 70 percent of the news they consumed was linked to them via social media websites.
According to the survey results, news is no longer delivered through parents or a preferred news channel but instead a Facebook post.
“Now, a kid who’s in the Middle of Nowhere, Idaho can see some video of massacres in Syria and be like ‘man what the heck is this’ and he may not have ever even heard of Syria before,” International Relations teacher David Muhammad said. This new found access to resources has spurred students into activism. One of those students is Sophomore Katie Crossette who uses her Tumblr blog as a platform of voicing her opinions and sharing the works of other online activists.
With the number of active Facebook users reaching 1.35 billion,according to Digital Marketing Ramblings, social media is taking the lead in how information is being distributed. Based on a study done by Pew Research Center, 30 percent of Facebook users in the US get news from the website which accounts for 39.9 million people receiving a variety of stories. But Facebook isn’t the only powerhouse when it comes to users and the spreading of news. Twitter and Tumblr also bring in a substantial amount of viewers.
Just as social media has changed how audiences find their news, it has also changed how news is reported.
“Now, everyone’s a journalist,” Muhammad said.
With the ability to report breaking news just from a cell phone, too Muhammad there’s a mentality of “let me get my phone out and snap,” and within seconds it’s spread across an audience of millions, much faster than any traditional news source.
“With my phone I can snap a video of something like the Eric Garner video which could cause worldwide response and raise some very serious questions,” Muhammad said.
Despite this, Young Republicans Club creator Joe Mcliney said that this ability could jeopardize people’s ability to find reliable sources.“Technically these kinds of videos would be considered news but it shouldn’t be considered a trusted news source.”
Social media has brought a voice to a whole population of people who didn’t have it before, including teens. Muhammad believes that kids as young as 17 or 18 can have valid opinions when it comes to the world they live in. He claims that the current generation’s understanding of social media and technology has lead them to be more in control of what kind of news stories are circulated. Once something has become viral like the ALS ice bucket challenge, the benefits reaped and awareness brought can be colossal. In fact, those numerous buckets of ice water that was poured on hundreds of heads led to $100 million being donated to the ALS Association.
According to Crossette, one of the best parts about spreading pertinent news and activism through social media is that, even if it isn’t made viral, it can still enact change on a large scale. In just the last seven days, Crossette has seen three Change.org petitions on her Tumblr dashboard without even seeking them out.
Change.org is the world’s largest online petitioning website. It allows for people to create and sign petitions that go towards stopping injustices like the release of Kenneth Bae from a North Korean prison. Crossette tries to sign as many as she can.
“It’s just a simple thing to do that feels like it’s actually going affect the person on the other side of it,” Crossette said.“Which is nice because sometimes when you’re trying to spread advocacy through social media you kind of feel like you aren’t really making enough of a difference for it to count.”
Despite the changes brought through online activism, some people are still critical of these trends and what actuality they actually bring. Many people rejected the ALS ice bucket challenge because a lot of the challengers didn’t mention what it was actually going towards.
“I think we need to stop criticizing these means of getting people to become advocates.” Muhammad said “You know it’s a lot better for them to be all caught up in the new wave of something that is great as opposed to some crap that was going on before.”

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The Harbinger Online Staff

The Harbinger is the exclusive student-run news program for Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, KS. Staffed by approximately 60 dedicated super-students and overseen by adviser C. Dow Tate, the print and online publications have won numerous national awards. The Harbinger is published in print every two weeks and its website edition is updated daily. The website edition includes blogs, live video, photo galleries and stories not published in the ... Read Full »

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