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TikTok reshaping editorial news

TikTok has quickly made a huge impact on the digital world over the last few years. But stories based around TikTok are re-shaping news content.

Image Source: Photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash

Since its release in 2018, TikTok has amassed 1.1 million Australian users and has taken the whole world by storm. Roughly 689 million people use the app each month.

More and more, TV news stations, online news sources and print media are reporting on things that have been happening on TikTok. Sharing the stories of hundreds, if not thousands, of regular people on a more “legitimate” platform brings up many questions about TikTok’s validity.

Light-news source Pedestrian.TV often publishes stories about things that are shared on TikTok that aren’t strictly speaking hard-hitting news. Take, for example, this TikTok story that Pedestrian shared on their Instagram just the other week, about a woman who gained an Irish accent after having a tonsil surgery. The video amassed over 2 million views and grabbed the attention of news outlets around Australia and the world.

A new creator mindset also means that people are whipping out their phones more to capture events that then end up newsworthy. Take this user who captured a woman giving birth while on a flight from Salt Lake City to Honolulu or the user who caught the moment lightning hit a building which would then light on fire. There is also a trend of users outing celebrities for their behaviour or more recently intimate dating encounters (like in the case of Ben Affleck or Matthew Perry in recent months). All such posts often end up making it to mainstream news.

TikTok itself has been a popular news source for Gen-Z. With a predominantly young, engaged audience using the app to share news stories and information, it creates a strong opportunity for media publishers to reach a new target audience.

Channel 7 News Australia appears to be the only certified TV news station tapping into this new social media platform, showing that they understand the importance of embracing this new media. Since posting their first video on the 30th of April this year, they have garnered 2,195 followers and 13.3k likes. Their most most-viewed TikTok video, with 106.4k views, is about a failed car robbery attempt in Melbourne that was dashed by the criminal’s lack of experience in driving manual cars. Highlighting perhaps the light-hearted nature of what users seek on this platform.

TikTok, @7newsaustralia

Of course major news events are also being distributed via TikTok, and instead of making mainstream news more trivial TikTok is educating an audience who might not otherwise seek out such information. During the Black Lives Matter protests throughout the US summer of 2020, hundreds and thousands of TikTok videos were shared by those participating in the marches and rallies. The brutality of the riot squads and police force was captured right on site and displayed the actuality of the event more truthfully at ground zero.

TikTok, @suecothechild

The rise of this new type of citizen journalism, easily edited in app to add information or change tone looks like it will change the future of news, both how it is consumed and reported on. While we wait to see if many major outlets will create their own platforms within TikTok, the tide has already undoubtedly turned.

Sarah Panther

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