CBS News is stepping up its use of social media as part of its programming. The channel's new show, called What's Trending, not only employs social media - the programme is built around the Internet's most-discussed topics. The weekly show, which had its first live broadcast last Tuesday, can also be live-streamed on the Internet.
"Unlike some other shows that include social media as an added tool to the content, our content itself is social, and the show is powered by that conversation and our community," Shira Lazar, the host of What's Trending, said to GigaOM.
In an interview with Off On A Tangent, Lazar specified that the aim of the show is to create a feel of a conversation with the audience. The point is to have a show powered by social media, not a show with social media added to it superficially.
The Atlantic pointed out the apparent similarity between What's Trending and Al Jazeera's The Stream, which launched in April. Both of the shows rely on social media but have very different approaches. Whereas What's Trending is mainly interested in and comments on the current trends on the web, The Stream is more selective and not interested in the Internet's trends per se.
In the interview with GigaOM, Lazar said she loved what Al Jazeera is doing. She estimated that there would be more shows embracing social media in the horizon. According to her, there is a gap between YouTube and traditional broadcasting media, and shows such as What's Trending are filling that gap.
But just because a topic has become a trend in the Twittersphere, should it be taken on the air? According to The Atlantic, What's Trending focuses on latest news through the eyes of the social web. But very often topics that become trends on the Internet do not deserve the same kind of coverage that news organisation give to "real" news.
Social media undeniably offers plenty of potential for news channels and news organisations in general. While having a show based on Internet trends is not a bad idea in itself, it should be remembered that social media can have many uses in news organisations. An important one stems from its ability to give voice to the kinds news that might not otherwise find their way to headlines.