Monday column: Newspapers can never be replaced by the Social Media

Opinion Sunday 19/May/2024 20:43 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday column: Newspapers can never be replaced by the Social Media

While the Social Media can be fun but can never replace the newspaper for the fact that many postings are fake and the sources may have a sinister agenda.

For real news based on facts, we need newspapers that can be held accountable for any misleading articles. But it is almost impossible to hold accountable to people who post random news in the social media.

Do not get me wrong, I like the social media. They keep me in touch with many friends all over the world. Without their postings, I would not know anything that is happening in their lives or even where they live now. The social media works well for personal exchanges of information and keeping up with the ‘gossips’.

However, when owners of social media accounts want to turn into ‘journalists’ then it goes all wrong. The facts get distorted. Those who have large following, know that they can quickly misinform people in just minutes. It is a frightening power that is very addictive when your followers believe everything you post.

They also confuse facts with rumours. But the worse is when they have a personal score to settle and want people to rally behind them by spreading false news. That is not happening with newspapers. It is about news responsibility. But I am not saying that journalists always get it right. But at least they know their reputation is at stake when they get it wrong.

Reporters know that they always get challenged when they get it wrong. They too, have followers and they have to make sure their protect their reputations each time they write something. Another thing about newspapers is that the news is edited before it goes out to the public.

Editors ensure quality assurance of each media piece before it get published.

That is not the case with the social media. The accounts are maintained by individuals and they have the last word. I can be so bold to say that they feel they have the power to send out irresponsible news devoid of facts.

One example I can bring to the attention how the social media can be so bad to the privacy of citizens. When you see them posting photos of road accidents with people lying injured or dead on the roads. They would run these ‘news’ items to infringe the privacy laws. I am happy that the government is clamping down this kind of behavior and it is punishable if any social media account transgresses this law.

You will never find these kinds of privacy intrusion in newspapers. Journalists are responsible to their readers and sensitive to their feelings, too. I cannot say the same for most of the social media accounts. If the newspapers are facing challenges then readers also get more bombarded by unverified news whose sole targets to get more followers.

Having said that, do newspapers now find it more difficult to perform their traditional work? I don’t think so. Newspapers have as many readers as the social media accounts. Actually, the newspapers are putting a more formidable challenge to the social media because more of its readers are online now. More than ever before.