Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 22

to media differently. Older officers and enlisted service members grew up in an environment still dominated by traditional media. Younger officers and enlisted service members have been socialized in a world of more personal social media. Social Media and “Democratization” of the News Everyone is a consumer of information. But today, due to social media, everyone is also a potential news journalist and information creator. For example, a web-based platform called Newzulu allows its more than one hundred thousand “citizen-journalists” to syndicate and share their videos, photos, and packages with over seven thousand news outlets around the world.8 Videos posted on Newzulu often attract the interest of, and then appear in, traditional, vertical news media—especially footage from places where professional journalists have little access. Recognizing the public relations value of such expanded access by popular social media, the White House, which historically has preferred formal and traditional top-down media like television and newspapers, is diversifying its media access by selectively allowing social media organizations, such as BuzzFeed and the Daily Beast, into its press briefing room.9 BuzzFeed? The Daily Beast? Who would have predicted such a development in media just ten years ago? Notwithstanding, as the rise of social media and decline in traditional media show, the ongoing dominant status of a medium is unpredictable; all media rise … and fall.10 But in whatever form, social media are here now and wield great social influence, and more are coming. Agendamelding Irrespective of the type of media, media audiences are not passive. Like vertical media, social media also set agendas for those who use them. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms convey a set of broad issues with details that frame what social media users then collectively think about. From this point of view, an expanded revision of the agenda-setting concept that takes into consideration social media helps explain the relationship between modern day news media and society as a whole. This expanded concept can also clarify the relationship the leadership of such institutions as the U.S. Army or General Motors now have with media that 20 communicate messages through official, unofficial, and social media channels to their soldiers, employees, affiliated supporters, and others. What makes the agenda-setting process different today is that all these audiences now have instant access to a profusion of other media as well as the opinions of other people collected on a single handheld device. For many this is their most important source of information and opinion, with a significant impact on shaping their attitudes and values. As discussed earlier, a high correlation between the media and the audience generally indicates their agreement on the importance of the topics mentioned in traditional news reports. However, if there is not such a high correlational agreement, it is highly probable that audiences are turning to social media and personal witness from other people to fill out missing information or assumptions to frame their worldview. Thus, some audiences now use what the authors of this article have labeled agendamelding—the modern day process of expanding the selection of topics and issues from a variety of media and combining them to individually tailor a personally framed world view. One consequence observed is that the less the agreement between official, traditional media messages and alternate sources of information on topics and issues, the more attention audiences will give to searching other kinds of media as a check on information from traditional sources. Additionally, audiences draw on their own experiences to fill in the gaps between traditional and social media information. Thus, audiences now increasingly use a combination of vertical and horizontal media news, opinions expressed by individuals (much of which is derived from social media), and personal experiences to create a personally tailored picture of the political, social, and working worlds in which they function. Figure 3 illustrates this process. How do audiences meld these vertical and horizontal media agendas? It sometimes may be a relatively subconscious cognitive process that results from the plethora of media to which individuals are now exposed. Two of the main author’s recent studies of elections suggest that communications in vertical and horizontal media platforms influence agendas for their users, but in different ways and to different degrees.11 Audiences in this example, voters, used traditional media as a major source of information, but they also November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW