A year later, Reddit was born and then in 2006 we were blessed with Twitter. Later to the party were Instagram and Snapchat. News hasn’t looked the same since.
Between them Facebook, Reddit and Twitter now account for nearly 2.5 billion online users.
For traditional news sources, the threat of social is serious.
Last year, the respect American think-tank Pew Research Center published a report that said most people now get their news from social media.
It felt damning for traditional news outlets – previously the imperious beacons of breaking news.
What has become evident over the last few weeks and months is that traditional media is back.
While social media can be pivotal in announcing news to the prevalence of citizen journalism, traditional media, in terms of its ability to deploy and deliver the full story at depth, is as strong as ever.
The UK has had it tough recently. News has been tragic, relentless and shocking.
In March the Westminster Bridge attack took place and sadly set a tone for a string of terror attacks and atrocities that have plagued the country including the Manchester Arena bombing, the London Bridge and Borough Market attack, the devastating Grenfell Tower fire and most recently the Finsbury Park terrorist attack.
Not to mention the snap election that took place and the chaos that has ensued as politicians grapple with a parliament in disarray.
Perversely, we tend to learn of these major (catastrophic) events via social media but they merely become the trigger to turn to a traditional news source for the full scoop.
As quick as social may be, the gravitas, analysis and resource of rolling coverage provided by the major news channels cannot be beaten.
The London Bridge attack took place late on a Saturday night; people Whatsapped, Facebooked and texted loved-ones in the Capital to alert them to the news and immediately national attention turns to the TV.
The BBC played the same 8-second video over and over again while they confirmed details and got to the scene but it was intensely gripping and far more powerful that watching a Twitter feed refresh. And when it comes to shock and awe, print does it best.
The ability of newspapers to dedicate an entire page, or more, to deliver high-impact and emotive images that grab you from the newsstand, is unparalleled.
Who will ever forget the ‘smoking gun’ front page of the Evening Standard with the blazing carcass of Grenfell, entitled ‘Inferno’ or the double-page spread from Metro which showed the inside of peoples’ homes, melted.
These were the striking images that shifted ink over the coming days and served as a stark warning to the government that something must be done.
This capacity to deliver intense scenes, combined with the ability of news channels to provide a package of real-time cascading updates has meant that traditional news sources have been absolutely integral to our perception of events over the last few months – making them more vivid, more real, more human.
Social media may get there first, but traditional media does it better.
Paul McEntee is director of Mc&T PR
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