These sites, and other social-media sites like them, are more than ways to find out where friends are eating or hanging out, they are catalogs of news links. So along with her daily online "newspaper," Stine dips into the daily "newspapers" of other friends and their news of the day – stories they've read, blogs they've scanned, videos they've watched, which, combined, are the equivalent of personal news services.
Social media is a growing force in news consumption across the age spectrum, but it is particularly prominent among younger news consumer like the students at American University (AU). Almost 60 percent of those ages 18 to 29, according to a Pew Research Center survey, said it was important to be able to share "news content with others through e-mails or posting to other websites, like Facebook." That was much higher than any other age group.
And for some critics that raises real questions. Assuming our friends are a lot like us – or at least similar in outlook or background – what does this world of "friend approved news" mean for democracy? Are we, particularly the young, just talking to yes men to confirm our beliefs? In the age of customized news consumption, how does one reach outside one's intellectual garden for a broader perspective, much less get a complete picture of what's actually happening in the world?
But, all is not lost, says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, far from it: "Young people get their news from friends through e-mail and social media, but the [news] links are usually to more mainstream outlets. It's stories from Yahoo, MSNBC, AOL, Google, and The New York Times."