I'm sure you're all aware of something that I call "social media journalism". Basically, it's when a random internet user with a smartphone (which could literally be anyone) decides to "report" on a certain event that either happened to them or around them that they deemed worthy of sharing, with the intention of it going viral so they can enjoy their 15 seconds of fame. Clips of people fighting in the streets, of government workers sleeping on the job, fast food outlet employees not adhering to health and cleanliness regulations, you know the kind. This type of "journalism" is rampant in Malaysia, with the phrase "I'll make this go viral!" often accompanying the shared clip uploaded by said "journalist". Now I understand that this is an inherent issue with social media. It gives people a platform and a voice to be heard, and so I'm not entirely bothered by that (well, I am, but that's not the point of this discussion). What bothers me more, is when real news organisations (traditional news organisations, the kinds which have newspapers and slots on TV) actually pick up these social media "reports" and parrot them, seemingly validating the "work" of this social media "reporter". Again, this is also rampant in Malaysia.
Here are a few examples of viral social media posts that have been reported by one particular newspaper publication in Malaysia.
First, footage of a woman who lost her temper when her car was about to get towed.
A doctor was filmed shouting at a patient who refused to wait their turn and instead barged into his office while he was seeing another patient. In this incident the infamous "I will make this go viral" claim was made.
Probably the worse offender? A conversation between a man and his mother about how pampered their cat is made the news. Why? No idea.
I know that newspapers need to adapt to the digital age. I even wrote a post about how Malaysia's oldest newspaper has stopped print productions and would be going fully digital. I also know that clicks are what generate revenue, which is why these news publications need to post news stories that will generate interest and be shared on social media. Unfortunately, drama sells in Malaysia (as well as cute cats), so these news publications feel the need to report on these issues, especially if the stories originate from social media and have gone viral.
Is it just me, or does this sort of "journalism" bother you too? How much does it happen in your country?