A recent study has shown how much social media affected 18-24 year olds during the May general election, reports PressGazette. The study, conducted by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, reported that 97% of those polled used Facebook during the election. Moreover, it showed that this age group used social media to discuss the election, share content, and take polls. The poll also suggested that 18-24 year olds "receive most of their political information online and rarely read a printed newspaper or listened to radio for information."
The report also showed that traditional forms of media have "normalized" their use of social media, which has "helped amplify the impact of social media even further." Moreover, the study also showed that half a million people used the registration form on the Electoral Commission website, which was advertised on TV and Facebook. Almost half of the people were between 18 and 24.
With the growth of online social media (most notably Facebook and Twitter), many news sources have integrated social media into their news reporting to a greater degree. While online news has presented quite a few problems for traditional media, new sources hope that using social media will allow them to gain popularity with a younger demographic.
Study author Nick Newman believes this study is good news for both elections and the media. "This research shows how the Internet enabled the election to come alive and engage, particularly the younger electorate," he says. "This study shows that far from becoming disengaged from the political process, as some had feared would happen, young voters tweeted, blogged and used online chat-rooms to discuss the last election."
Newman further commented on social media, saying that Twitter has "cemented its place as a core communication tool" amongst political and media circles." While Twitter has proven to be a valuable tool amongst journalists, there has been speculation over whether or not journalists should use the social media platform.
Newman also noted that "there is also evidence to show that online information, context and real-time feedback enriched and invigorated the mainstream election coverage in newspapers, TV and radio." Overall, the increasing dependence of news sources on social media could be a sign that the landscape of political reporting is changing to include more social media.