Applying the Two-Step Flow Theory to My News Gathering Routine

Social Media is a News Source

There was a time when I would watch the 10 o’clock news just like my mom and generations of other older people who feel that television news is the best way to obtain the important stories of the day.

Now, I’m lazy and can’t be bothered with the day-to-day dramas and sagas of the world. Consuming too much of it tends to weigh my soul down. So, I like to get my news second hand from the people of the internets, also known as Instagram. I love how easily browsable it is. I can usually gather all I would like to know about the world within 10 minutes or so.

Unsurprisingly enough, I’m not the only one accessing my news this way. According to the Pew Research Center, 3 in 10 American adults obtain their news from social media sites. Obtaining news from a secondary source or “opinion leader” supports the theory popularized by Elihu Katz called the Two-Step Flow Theory. This idea states that mass messages are commonly gathered by opinion leaders who then pass that information on to their social circles or an audience.

No Shade News

One of the few sources that keep me up to date on a variety of noteworthy news is The Shade Room’s Instagram page. There, I can be updated on the latest Lizzo-related uproar and the president’s latest speech. Although each post only gives the reader a brief highlight of each story, they also provide links to the full article on their website.

American Tyrants

Another of the “opinion leaders” that I defer to for accurate news sharing is writer, director, and editor Tizzyent (real name: Michael). A critical theorist, Michael usually posts Instagram videos featuring people who are behaving horribly in public. He’s made it his job use clever and calm logic to educate the ignorant and insolent American public.

It’s rare that I get curious enough to look at an actual newspaper article, but if I do, it’s a for a quick glance at my phone’s CNN or Apple News highlights. I think of accredited news sources as the places (besides Google) to verify information obtained on social media. It sounds shameful to say since I was born in the newspaper era, but this is truly my new reality.

Spread The News

What the Two-Step Theory doesn’t consider is the fact that information does not stop with a simple twofold transaction. If a piece of information is funny, odd, or amazing, it gets filed away for sharing with someone else who then shares it with another person.

I haven’t previously stopped to think about it until now, but I do often find myself filtering the interesting information I’ve obtained and dispensing it to those who it most closely relates to. For example, I wouldn’t waste a minute filling my mom in on what Lizzo has been up to lately, but I would talk to her about the president’s latest interview.

How do you get your news? Are you a traditional news seeker or a new school newbie like me? If your news access and sharing methods are similar or different than mine, let’s discuss below.

pharmacy technician, aspiring writer, and student of digital strategy