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SMW12 In Rewind: Tug-o-war Mainstream vs Social Media

SMW12 In Rewind: Tug-o-war Mainstream vs Social Media

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

mainstream media vs social media in journalism

Image // via attendee @digitalhen

A lively debate took place in Hong Kong Thursday evening between traditional journalists and social media news breakers and what the differences mean for the future of news consumption. Vocal panelists included Angie Lau (Bloomberg Television), Asha Phillips (, and Mariko Sanchanta (Wall Street Journal).

Sanchanta started off by stating the WSJ is a happy passenger on all evolving platforms. Journalists often turn to social when news is breaking but often the full story and context comes from traditional channels, like in the instance of the recent Foxconn riot. Social is also valuable when you’re attempting to tell a visual story, like using Instagram to cover New York Fashion week- though Sanchanta still believes in cultivating your sources face-to-face over a traditional cocktail.

Asha Phillips

Image // via @ashaphillips

Phillips discussed a lot of the back and forth between social and traditional. A lot of fact-checking goes on between the two. Media used to wait for wire reports on breaking news, now they’re going to Twitter. Intel still needs to be verified and adapted or more situations like the Kony campaign that went viral before fact-checking will occur. Having a network of people around the world to verify content is key to avoiding this.

Lau expressed the idea that the purpose of news coverage is to shine light on the darkness. In countries like China where the news is censored by government  journalists have to consult social to get the full scope of information. In fact social media is often strongest when and where mainstream media is weakest.

The future of the pay wall model was debated as well. With the WSJ supporting this model since 1996, it seems like there’s no going back, but doubts surround the fact that many in the under-25 set are unlikely pick up a paper, or even seek out traditional media online as their news source. Ideas were thrown around for a pay-per-day model vs entire year subscriptions. However, in Hong Kong a finance paper was able to raise the price from $6 to $8 and people continue to pay because journalism is valuable. The value of journalism overall was undisputed but the traditional vs social model will be in flux for sometime as more crossover between mediums becomes commonplace.


Beckie Stravers is a New Yorker, lifestyle blogger at, and a social media pusher at She loves tweets and the internet, and hopes to see  you around the world wide web. You can follow her on twitter @cubicle57blog. She is one of our four Official Correspondents covering SMW12 for Crowdcentric.

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