North Texas Daily

Social media pivotal in news cycle

Social media pivotal in news cycle

Social media pivotal in news cycle
August 26
00:22 2014

Your phone is constantly buzzing. Perhaps a text or a call, but it’s probably just an update from one of your social media accounts. While these vibrating outbursts can interrupt classes, they may be delivering breaking news regarding Ferguson, Missouri or the latest video of a celebrity getting drenched to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease.

While comparing the two is like trying to find similarities between a Freddy Krueger horror flick and a Meg Ryan rom-com, the pair represents opposite sides in the same medium. News of both has spread through mentions, hashtags and reports on social media, representing how pivotal the outlet is in providing news and commentary on the world around us.

#Ferguson has been used to show videos of police brutality and provide commentary on both peaceful and violent protests while the #IceBucketChallenge is the moniker accompanying a video of people, ranging from the NT Daily staff to Justin Bieber, dousing themselves in ice water to raise awareness for the ALS Association.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told Yahoo regarding the happenings in Ferguson, “People want to feel like they’re there, and they want that sense of connection.” He also added that Twitter has empowered more people, which is something he always desired.

Since Michael Brown’s death on Aug. 8, more than 9 million tweets have carried #Ferguson. This doesn’t include the countless others minus the accompanying tag, including updates from journalists like Rembert Browne and footage of the gritty reality on the ground level.

Though the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has garnered less attention, it still has more than 3.5 million tweets in the same time frame. The campaign is successfully imploring people to donate money and has raised almost $80 million as of Aug. 25, according to the ALS Association’s website.

The money is being used to find treatments and a cure for ALS disease, which we can all agree is a “good cause.”

Still, some people feel that social media has a negative effect, such as Alex Byers of Politico, who wrote, “social networks like Twitter highlight tensions in the moment, rather than calming them.”

But Byers misses the point here, because Twitter isn’t meant to ease tensions. This story deserves tension and traction—and social media provides both.

Without these constant updates, it is very likely that the police brutality based story would have had the same fate as similar stories regarding death in the prehistoric days, aka when consumers of news didn’t refresh their phones every seven seconds.

And what about the bucket challenge?

It’s likely the organization wouldn’t have even sniffed the current total if the movement were forced solely to rely on word of mouth.

Without social media the discussions regarding both stories would have been short or perhaps non-existent. Social media has given these stories life—and they both earned it for vastly different reasons.

One thing’s for sure: whether you’re more privy to following public figures donating money or reading up on first person experiences on the front line, you don’t want something as dire as #Ferguson or as uplifting as #IceBucketChallenge disappearing without their due. They need attention, and social media provides it.

To write letters to the editor or voice concerns please email me at Or send a tweet to @ntdaily. 

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