Social media has created a human filter for quality content. The social web, like the old water cooler, favors conversations around news and even in-depth journalism that may not otherwise receive the exposure it deserves. Recent analysis of the most-tweeted stories from The Daily iPad app revealed that users shared more hard news stories over gossip and opinion pieces.
This doesn’t necessarily mean these are the stories most people are reading. The gossip articles (or “fluff” pieces) often out-perform news items in pageviews, often because that is what people are searching for. But the tide may be changing.
The incentive to share quality content is simple: A person may be more likely to read gossip, but they may share a news piece to shape their followers’ perception of them. They may even view it as a public service. I tend to believe it’s usually the former rather than the more altruistic latter. As a result, news organizations producing quality journalism are being rewarded with accelerated growth in social referral traffic — in some cases, growing at a much faster pace than search referrals. More notably, social media is enabling the citizenry to be active participants in producing journalism by giving them platforms to publish to the social audience. This has made journalism more efficient and, in many ways, enhanced the quality of storytelling.