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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Since the development of the internet in the late 1960s, it has grown to be increasingly commercial for everyday use. According to Miniwatts Marketing group (2012), The number of people using internet rose to 3.6 billion in the year 2012. This means half the world's population now have access to the internet. Users have constructed their own online societies through the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.  Social media is becoming increasingly more popular day by day.

Companies are continuously making new advances with the use of social media for their advantage and advertising. This is only one of the many purposes that social media can be used for.  Another main purpose is being a popular news outlet. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism research suggests 51% of people with online access use social media as a news source (Newman, N., Levy, D. and Nielsen, R. 2015). Both modern and traditional media have their draws and setbacks. Traditional media can be seen as more trusted and reliable information. However, digital media can be sourced and reported with haste and without publishing costs. I am hopeful this research will explore and reveal how modern journalistic practises have altered the ways in which we intake news and why.

Research Questions:

Participants of elite interviews and surveys will be asked multiple questions in an attempt to satisfy the question of whether or not social media platforms are taking over from traditional media and a new source. These questions have been selected carefully to avoid putting the answer in the question, abiding by the ethics of research journalism.

Elite Interview Questions Include:

1. If you could only have one type of news source, would you prefer print or digital?

2. Do you own any digital devices? If so, which ones?

3. Where do you source daily news; Online, Print Media, Radio or TV?

4. Can you tell me some pros and cons to both traditional and online news outlets?

5. Statistics show that the majority of people who intake news from print are ages 65+, do you think this means print media is a dying art?

6. Do you trust the information you read on social media as much as information printed in a newspaper? – why?

Rationale:

There is a lot of controversy concerning the future of print media. I chose this topic in an attempt to discover if the concerns are realistic or otherwise. This research aims to come to a conclusion of whether or not social media and the influence of the internet will eventually take over from print media all together. This research is important for all journalists alike, both new and experienced. For people studying journalism and trying to choose their path in the journalistic world, if print is becoming an increasingly smaller staple of journalism, then it would only make sense to try entering into fields of digital media such as tv and radio.

Methodology:

This research will be conducted by the use of a combination of qualitative and quantitative research with a focus on gathering numerical data through the use of survey research and face-to-face interviews. Quantitative research “is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviours, and other defined variables – and generalise results from a larger sample population.” Susan E. DeFranzo (2011). This should gain the highest possible levels of validity and reliability. According to Kirby ET Al (1997), the use of more than one method in order to try to counter the weakness of one particular method by combining it with another which is strong in that area” combination of both of these techniques will be used to increase the success of this research.

My main reasoning for using quantitative research is that; it allows for a broader study, involving a larger quantity of subjects enhancing the generalisation of the results. Additionally, it holds greater objectivity and accuracy of results.  Done correctly, the research can be replicated, analysed and compared with similar studies.  There is a concern of personal bias, however it can be avoided by keeping a 'distance' from survey participants.

My reasoning for also using qualitative research is that, qualitative techniques allow a more unique depth of understanding which can be difficult to achieve through a poll or survey. Participants are free to speak openly and honestly about opinions and experiences thus achieving a more human response and result. The researcher is offered an opportunity to follow up on questions and opinions offered in real time. This generates a valuable discussion of the topic being explored which can be a struggle in a structed setting.

Whilst facts and figures compiled by quantitative research are without question useful, you can often be left looking for the ‘why' behind the statistics. Hence why the combination of qualitative and quantitative is the best option to move forward with.

I will conduct a survey get the information about the point of view and opinion of the general public. In order to discover if social media is taking over print media as a news source, it makes sense to ask the public and put the results into figures that should clearly show if social media is indeed the new most popular source for news.

Following the results of the survey I will conduct elite interviews. These interviews will follow a strict structure to ensure I am in control of the interview and there isn't time wasted on gathering unnecessary information. Interviewees will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on whether or not they think social media platforms are the new most common outlet of news and tell me what source they use themselves.

The choice to use quantitative research may face other challenges, such as the struggle to differentiate between the real world and a social phenomenon. However, it also has perks from a financial aspect and can be easily completed within a tight time constraint.  The chosen research method of face-to-face interviews may also encounter its own issues. It is important to keep all interviewee identities and personal information confidential. I will ensure participants are fully aware of what the interview involves as well as attempting to keep them from voicing only bias opinions.

Literature Review:

The public is increasingly seeking its news not from mainstream television networks or ink-on-dead trees but from grazing online. When we go online, each of us is our own editor, our own gatekeeper. We select the kind of news and opinions that we care the most about” (Shaalan, Hassanien and Tolba, 2017).

This quote from ‘Intelligent Natural Language Processing: Trends and Applications' suggests clearly that editors are no longer the guardians of news. With social media and the internet, audiences can find the news they want to read, free of charge and at their own convenience. Audiences decide what they'll read and where they'll go for news. This literature appears to be accurate, trustworthy information supported by the statics previously mentioned from The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism research showing 51% of people with online access use social media as a news source (Newman, N., Levy, D. and Nielsen, R. 2015)

“Users who are immersed in social media are likely to be more open to receiving news and information via their networked circles, from both peers and journalists. Editorially, the traditional gatekeeping function of the media is weakened as a significant proportion of news consumers turn to family, friends, and acquaintances to alert them to items of interest. Essentially, a person's social circle takes on the role of news editor.” (Newman, Levy and Nielsen, 2015)

This source suggests that social media users are content receiving news through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This is because they choose to hear it from friends and family, most of which can be reached and research at the click of a button thanks to social media. However, with this in mind it could be suggested that if the social circle consisted of members from an older generation who still thrived from print media then this could be their main source of news.  This is backed up by a study of ‘News Consumption in the UK, 2016' which showed that 50% of society members aged 65+ still elect for printed news as their main source. (Ofcom.org.uk, 2018)

“A mixed methods study could be used to compensate for weaknesses in research that uses only one method. A mixed methods study could lead to better and more accurate inferences because of the depth of review. There may be the discovery of conflicting or divergent findings.” (GOODWIN and GOODWIN, 1984)

In my choice of whether or not to use a singular or combination method of research this study helped me make my decision. As much as it explains that the results may be more accurate yet potentially flawed with conflicting results, it led me to the conclusion that regardless of the risk of conflict a mixed method was the better choice.

Despite the emergence of the new media, the print media remains a strong force to reckon with in the media landscape. The print media flourished in the pre-new media era when access to new electronic technologies was limited. With the advent of these technologies, the dynamics of information access has changed significantly (Rajendran and Thesinghraja, 2014).

Initially, I was sure of the results of this research to be in favour of a social media takeover. With that in mind my research may have come across somewhat bias.  However, after reading this literature it swayed my opinion and left my mind open to the possibility that print media still holds a strong necessity in the world of journalism. Reasons for this may include its value of trust and integrity.

“The term ‘confidentiality' conveys different meanings for health care practitioners and researchers. For health care practitioners, confidentiality means that no personal information is to be revealed except in certain situations. For researchers, however, the duty of confidentiality is less clear and involves elaboration of the form of outcome that might be expected from the study.” (Richards HM, Schwartz,2002)

This information had me conflicted between where the line of trust and confidentially becomes blurred in research. In its comparison between industries it suggests that being in a career such as nursing, there is obvious situations where the ethical boundaries of confidentially can be broken. However, ethics for journalists and researchers are less clear. It left me questioning if it is ever okay to breach the laws of ethics, if it is in the interest of the research and therefore in the public interest. Initially I had always thought it was never acceptable.

Traditionally, journalists personally detached from their work were perceived as the most credible by news consumers, but social media has made it difficult for journalists to remain distanced. Journalists who revealed their personalities and preferences more often through comments and responses to readers were more likeable to audiences, yet these actions violated the historical concept of journalistic professionalism (Lee, 2015)

Being distanced from a story is a sure way to keep it unbiased and therefore trustworthy news. The adaptation to social media as a news source has permitted citizen journalism to flourish – anybody can be a journalist now. Usually citizen journalists have motive in their writing and therefore must  struggle to keep their work strictly professional – unless online citizen journalism as a whole isn't professional.  

“Pragmatic social researchers can use philosophical and political debates as resources for achieving certain mental attitudes, rather than a set of underlying principles from which all else must flow, creating unnecessary obstacles to flexible and creative inquiry {...} One can, then, understand such debates as conversations stimulating methodological awareness among researchers, rather than laying foundations for truth.” (Seale, 1999)

When reading ‘The Quality of Qualitative research' I came to the conclusion that a large component in my decision to use my combination of methodologies was because I wanted honesty and truth to be the highlight of my results. I don't want to offer guidance in my research. I'm seeking a public opinion and therefore I don't want any of the research methods to be in any way bias or unethical.

Ethics:

The relationship between researcher and participant in qualitative studies can encounter multiple different ethical concerns.  Qualitative research faces troubles such as maintain a respect of privacy, establishing honesty and open interactions, as well as avoiding misrepresentation in results. Ethically challenging situations may arise in the case of having to deal with conflicting issues and choosing between different methodological strategies if conflict arises. In this case disagreements between different components such as participants, researchers, discipline and society. Therefore, the clear ethical boundaries and concerns to be weary of are confidentiality and anonymity.  

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