Thursday, March 11, 2010

CNN’s fear of social media harbinger of shift in agenda-setting power of the press?

A top CNN executive told Businessweek Wednesday that he fears competition from social networking sites. The story quotes the cable network’s U.S. president, Jonathan Klein, as saying he views social media as a threat that can pull people away from CNN: “The people you’re friends with on Facebook or the people you follow on Twitter are trusted sources of information. Well, we want to be the most trusted name in news.”

When a major news organization's leader calls attention to competition coming from social networks, it highlights their growing importance and power in the flow of news and information. Today, people around the world send 50 million tweets per day, and more than 400 million people are active Facebook users. These sites have assisted in recent earthquake aid and rescue efforts, helped elect a president, and facilitate discussions on key issues daily.

The power of traditional news media to set the agenda for the public may be shifting in light of this social media environment. By integrating with and contributing to social media, mainstream news will play a critical role in reshaping the next phase of mediated communication.

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