There's no doubt that social media has made its mark on journalism. Just think of the way that the news of Steve Jobs' death spread rapidly around the world.
These changes haven't just changed the way we read newspapers. They've also profoundly altered our relationship with television.
This was the subject of a talk given by Mike Proulx, co-author of the book Social TV, at "Les Nouvelle Pratiques du Journalisme" conference at Sciences Po, Paris, hosted in collaboration with Columbia Journalism School.
Proulx listed the four areas of broadcast news that have been affected by Twitter.
All sorts of news is broken now on Twitter, from the earthquake on the US East Coast this August, to the fact that Billy Crystal was to replace Eddie Murphy as the host of this year's Oscars. The fact that news breaks on Twitter profoundly affects the way journalists work: many reporters monitor trending topics on to see what's happening, for example. They also mine social networks for information, pictures and videos about new stories. The famous photo of the jet which landed in the Hudson River was originally a twitpic.
Journalists can use Twitter to reach out to people who might be able to help them with stories. Proulx gave the example of Jake Tapper, an ABC reporter who successfully found sources through Twitter. Proulx also pointed out that Twitter includes an advanced search function that not many people take advantage of - enhanced searches are a great tool for reporters.
"Always on" reporting.
Journalists can't be everywhere, all the time. But now, equipped with smartphones, tablets and laptops, they can use other people as their eyes and ears. Proulx talked about reporters using Twitter to offer sneak previews of their stories. This taster-giving tactic encourages viewers to tune in to their programs later on.
Intergrating tweets into the broadcast itself.
Twitter can function as a direct feedback loop, showing programers their audience's response in real time. And that response can become part of the broadcast. An example is US Republican candidate Rick Perry's debate debacle, when he couldn't remember the names of the three government agencies that he planned to axe. His now-famous "oops" caused a massive spike on Twitter, which registered in the newsroom.
Another example is the US entertainment show 106 & Park, in which questions from viewers on twitter are put to guests on the show in real time.
As the relationship between Twitter and TV develops, Proulx pointed out that there are social media programs and applications available today that can fulfil a number of functions. Some, like Miso, act as virtual "check-in services", which viewers can use to broadcast what shows they're watching on other social media platforms. Some allow enhanced engagement via mobile and tablets, giving viewers extra information about TV programs through apps. Some act as social TV guides, which viewers can use to find out about what others are watching on tv.
It's clear that the social media revolution is far reaching when it comes to broadcast news. But while Proulx is positive about the trend, he stresses "Social media by itself is not going to save a bad program." It's down to braodcasters themselves to produce good content.
And one thing is clear: "We used to watch tv in proximity with our close family and friends. We're now watching it with the world."