Compared with newspapers, nowadays people are more familiar with reading news on their mobile devices like smartphones and PCs. Online news sharing has to become the main channel that people obtain the news and express their feeling. By reposting the news and commenting under the news on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or search engines like Google and Baidu, we can easily share our opinions with the public. At the same time, a “decentralized, autonomous, efficient information-sharing market” is also been created for further uses such as political issues, cultural broadcasts, and commercial benefits (Dwyer, T & Martin, F, 2017). Everyone has the opportunity to speak anonymously in public and being powerful to defend the negative events. The revolution of information technology not only improved how people communicate but also how people participate in society.
We share news on the internet, and we also share benefits within this process. We have received more news than before since people are all sharing their interests that will expose more news to the public and constitute a social news web (Kümpel, A. S, Karnowski, V & Keyling, T, 2015). We get to know more about what happened around the whole world and gaining international information. However, the conveniences and easy of consuming and producing online news also make it hard to recognize authenticity. News online becoming commercialized since advertisements will gain profits. Improper remarks about politics may be collected by the regulation organization, after all, social media is transparent and loss in trust about privacy (MacKinnon, R, 2012). In general, besides the history of online news sharing, this article will critically discuss the social impact of online news sharing that influence the industry of journalism.
The History of Online News Sharing:
Before we start to use mobile devices to consume and sharing daily news on social media, information sharing mainly happened in the service platforms. It allowed users to receive messages shared by the terminal, but not sharing between users. In the 1960s, the PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operation) was created in the University of Illinois for students’ online education system (Jones, S, 2019). As all the terminals were linked to one central mainframe, PLATO systems support users to create an online community that allows multiple responses that happened at the same time (Jones, S, 2019). As the original form of online content sharing, the PLATO system is beginning with one mainframe and many other branch-users, yet, the responses were only coming back to the center but not enough to form a sharing circle.
Then we have the Minitel videotext network in France. It was created for people to easily get their daily news, gaming, information of theaters or movies and ticketing, etc. Like PLATO, all the messages will be sent from a distribution terminal by just press a button on the terminal and follow the steps shown on the screen. Minitel brings
conveniences to French people, as they were the first group of people that can check their bank bill “online” (Schofield, H, 2012). The failure of Minitel, like its advantages, was also because of its heavy, unintelligence, and limitations on services: “Minitel wasn’t an open platform. It only provided Minitel services, which was quickly going out-of-date as a model” (Schofield, H, 2012). Many people also earned easy money by “set up a newspaper and let it die” to continued charge fees from Minitel (Schofield, H, 2012).
Furthermore, there are more and more social network sites that created for sharing like Six degrees, but they were all focus on partial content that can be shared with others. Until nowadays, social media create a platform that expands sharing’s diversity. Not like social services and interpersonal contact, social media has achieved linking individuals together and sharing on both sides.
The benefit of Sharing Online News
The more we share online news, the more information and knowledge we will get. If the paper newspaper is only delivering local daily news that content is usually about politics, online news is presenting to be more international and diversity on both content and form. Readers are the main group that benefits from online news sharing since it not only satisfied their curiosity to the worldly events but also filled up their daily blank time such as on the bus or rest after work.
Secondly, on the social impact, content also benefits from online sharing. News that used to post on the newspaper is unable for readers to comment and repost, and it is also hard for multiple people discussing the same news at the same time. Now, with more people are sharing news to different social media platforms, a news’s exposure rate is increasing. Some particular content, for example, entertainment or celebrity’s gossip news, is getting benefits from social media (Aral, S & Zhao, M, 2019).
Yet sharing on social media also played the advantages of publicity, which it is now a normal seeing that under the news article, readers can choose to “share this story/news on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/LinkedIn…” (BBC News). Online sharing is making a number of qualified news articles with critical thinking known by more people. This is significant to journalism, that “sharing amplifies net news reach, generating referred traffic to the original publication site and story (Dwyer, T & Martin, F, 2017).
This phenomenon is bringing new business opportunities to the advertising industry. We see more and more advertisements on the news website somewhere at the front or side of the webpage to attract readers’ attention. Truly, this kind of embedded advertisement is more effective and transparent than any other way, and it is also accessible to easily click the image (Dwyer & Martin, 2017). According to the statistics, Facebook ranked fifth in media companies that gaining revenue from “aggregation of user knowledge and application to behaviorally targeted advertising” (Dwyer & Martin, 2017). While users are sharing the website, they are also sharing the advertisements on the website to more people. In general, though readers sharing online news without commercial benefits, advertising is gaining more exposure during the process.
The Negative Effects of Online News Sharing
However, online news sharing not always bring positive influences. While we are sharing news articles on the internet, the newspaper is gradually forgotten by readers. Fewer and fewer people will buy a piece of newspaper, even it only cost a little. Newspaper sales have plummeted since the rise of the smartphone. Comparing to an intelligent mobile device, newspapers are losing the significance of people have to buy them. According to the data from Pew Research, that “US newspaper circulation fell from 55.8 million in 2000 to 34.7 million in 2016 and the tremendous declines in advertising revenue, from a high of $49.4 billion in 2005 to just $18.3 billion in 2016” These two reasons directly cause many newspapers bankrupt (Aral & Zhao, 2019). With the rise of online news, the newspaper industry is also coming to decline.
Additionally, when we share news on social media, we are probably spreading “fake news” to more people. Although readers gain a lot more information from the diversity of online news, readers have also been confused by the diversity of online fake news (Dwyer & Martin, 2017). There are kinds of fake
news on social media platforms that seem to be formal, professional and real, and a lot of them are related to health, politics, and gossip. The targeted audiences are also been considered. Studies have shown that “Older people are almost four times more likely to have shared fake news on Facebook than the younger generation” (Hern, 2019), and this also becoming urgent in China, as older people have been tricked by the fake news about some “healthy tips” on WeChat.
“Online News Sharing” to Me?
Thanks to the publicity of the internet and social media, I’m now feeling much more convenient on news reading. At the time when people read newspapers, teenagers like me are not interested in the local content in the newspapers and the form of the news including the word size and pictures. I found reading newspapers at that time is old people’s behavior. And now, when technology is bringing the news online and make the content diversity, layout more organized, and audiences feel free to participate in, more and more people are willing to share their ideas about current affairs that happened around the world. However, I also concern about the quality of online news, that people may follow the wrong public opinions. When people want to speak up for justice but not receiving the truth, sharing will not make the complexion better.
In conclusion, online news sharing is on going a great revolution in the journalism industry. It firstly changes the mode of how people participate in the news, from the hearer to the judge. Sharing not only links individuals together but also links them with the world. The advertising industry and social media platforms are secondly getting the benefit of online sharing. While the rate of exposure to online news is increasing, the recognition of that advertisement is also increasing. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter will then charge advertisers and gain revenues from it. However, print newspapers are the one who lost the most, since it is traditional and monotonous, now it is gradually fading out of people’s lives.
Dwyer, T.,& Martin, F. (2017). Sharing News Online. Digital Journalism. 1080-1100. DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2017.1338527
Kümpel, A. S, Karnowski, V & Keyling, T. (2015). News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research on News Sharing Users, Content, and Networks. 1-14. DOI: 10.1177/2056305115610141
MacKinnon, R. (2012). Facebookistan and Googledom. In Consent of the networked: the world-wide struggle for Internet freedom (pp. 149–165). New York: Basic Books.
Jones, S. (2019). PLATO Computer-Based Education System. Retrieved from the Encyclopedia Britannica website: https://www.britannica.com/topic/PLATO-education-system
Schofield, H. (2012). Minitel: The rise and fall of the France-wide web. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18610692
Hern, A. (2019). Older people more likely to share fake news on Facebook, study finds. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/10/older-people-more-likely-to-share-fake-news-on-facebook
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