There are some tantalizing clues about how the growing importance of social media in a new study of 1,000 college students around the world, conducted by the International Center for Media & the Public Affairs, in partnership with the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change. Read more here..
This new study asked close to 1,000 students in ten countries on five continents, from Chile to China, Lebanon to the USA, Uganda to the United Kingdom, to abstain from using all media for a full day. Among the top findings was that a majority of participants did not actually make it a full day without media.
Among the possibly important key findings is the growing importance of social media, and the role of social networks in bringing “news” to peoples’ attention. The study found that, to a surprising extent, social networks were the distribution outlets for social media, and that social media had largely displaced the traditional role of “news” media.
Because Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and their counterparts are increasingly the way students reported getting their news and information, students were cavalier about any need for traditional news outlets, and in fact very few students mentioned any legacy or online news organization by name.
Students wanted “news,” but the term was blurred in their minds, as the same social network platforms that carry their personal news, also are the ways in which students get the bulk of their daily “hard” news, too. Rhetorically speaking at least, most students around the world didn’t discriminate between news that The New York Times, the BBC or Al Jazeera might cover, and news that might only appear in a friend’s tweet or Facebook status update.
That tends to suggest the key role social networks, as ways to distribute social media content, now are becoming. Aside from the fact that that there is a blurring of lines between opinion and fact, professional and personal news, it increasingly seems to be the case that unless a bit of “news” is shared on a social network, it isn’t found.

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