The future of journalism has been predicted by many in the media industry to be moving towards online and social media.

Almost all media houses, radio station and television news channels have a website, Facebook page and twitter account.

The word social in definition is: relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other or liking to be with and talk to people. Social media to begin with provided a platform for people to share things with their friends in a happy and friendly manner.

Now social media is used for news and passing on serious information which might have legal implications if found or traced to that individual.

Many journalists, spokespersons and public representatives of companies and organisations have been fired or been through some form of disciplinary process due to their conduct on social media platforms.

It is clear the media landscape is being diversified and social media should be used as a platform to inform the people at large.

I asked a few decision-makers in the media industry if social media can be used as a tool in the newsroom, is it something to worry about and should there be policies in place?

Herman Wesserman Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University thinks, “Yes it should be used, it widens potential for journalists and it is a useful tool that is here to stay.” He also adds that the question should rather be, “can journalists use it in the best possible way?”

Moagisi Sibanda ‎Media Officer at Embassy of the United States says, “I think there should be policies, as a journalist you are trained to verify information; social media is a tool to alert you on things worth following up.”

“Journalists of today don’t go out to find stories, they write stories based on what is trending on twitter so I feel policies are needed for accuracy purposes,” says Tebogo Ramuthoa.

Wisdom Chimgwede investigative journalist feels, “Media houses and journalists alike should worry about social media because it is moving fast; deadlines are much faster in the social media world than in the mainstream newsroom.”

Akhona Namba says, “There should be policies because plagiarism could be a problem and the accountability of sources can be a huge issue.”

The limited space available on social media such as twitter affects storytelling and decision makers in newsrooms need to be active on social media to keep it controlled and also emphasis that the rules and process of journalism should still apply.

Khethukuthula Lembethe

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