Social media promises newsworthiness in 2011


University of Kentucky student Shannon Frazer, pictured in the Kernel office on 10/14/09. Photo by Ed Matthews

Column by Shannon Frazer. E-mail [email protected].

2011 will be the year of the social media. You heard it here first.

In a year-end telecast, ABC News reported that Facebook had recently surpassed Google with the number of site hits. That’s right, the search engine giant Google.

In my attempts to reason why a social networking site would get more web traffic than a site that tells you practically anything you want to know, I have come to a conclusion. Social media just has more going for it.

The Jan. 5 swearing-in of Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner in front of the 112th Congress was covered via live feed on Facebook. It was the first time a social media outlet had streamed about the congressional event. Bet you didn’t see that coming in 2007 when Nancy Pelosi was handed the gavel.

But you can probably think of several instances when celebrities and politicians have met public outcry or buzz because of something controversial or questionable they posted on a social media site.

For instance, “refudiate” wouldn’t have been named the Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2010 without Sarah Palin via Twitter.

UK fans are aware of a few student-athletes who have lost their social networking privileges for one reason or another.

And who could forget Kanye West’s two-hour Twitter apology to Taylor Swift after he interrupted her during her 2009 MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech?

President Obama even has credited much of his pre-election support to Facebook users. His campaign has been dubbed “The Facebook Campaign.”

According to the CNBC program “The Facebook Obsession,” college student supporters created the group “Barack Obama for President in 2008” on Facebook, which enabled thousands of students to hear about and attend a rally at George Mason University. Ironically, event coordinators had predicted about 100 students would turn out.

Social media encourages the newsworthiness of events otherwise deemed unnewsworthy, and that is precisely why these websites will continue to grow and change with the times. They are the means that enable news to become news.

Consider it community journalism with an expansive, Internet-linked community.

The power of social media is ever-growing, and I predict we will continue to see this in 2011.

Don’t forget, you heard it hear first.