Social Media’s Influence on the Oscar Pistorius Trial

The globalization of news media has created a need for real-time information in individuals throughout the world. With the instant updates on social media and blogs, people are constantly glued to their smartphones, tablets, and computers with a need to stay in the loop. This is currently peaking with the Oscar Pistorius trial where individuals throughout the world are craving real time information to find out what happens to him. Pistorius’ name is trending worldwide on Twitter and other social media sites while news outlets are making sure to cover him on television once (or more) every hour. 

A news article in Cape Argus from South Africa asks if social media, television, will have an impact on the outcome of the Pistorius trial. This is an interesting concept because it might be the first time that outside, nongovernmental officials are influencing the outcome of a legal proceeding. “Regular” individuals will make an impact and feel that they made a difference in the outcome. One can question if this could occur in the United States. However, you can also argue that the United States has a strong justice system where outside sources, other than rich corporations or government officials, cannot influence the results.

The results of this case might counter the results found by Robertson (2013) in her study related to the influence, or lack thereof, of social media in discussions on global television networks. Within her study, Robertson (2013) found that social media is not a significant player in media coverage for important news events. The news corporations serve as a gatekeeper between the conversations on social media and what they say to the general public. Therefore, they make sure to control the message in order to influence the audience.

Due to this, one could consider that these media corporations are fearful of Twitter and other social media outlets. If they sway the outcome of the Pistorius trial, they will move towards controlling the message and controlling the profits of the media corporations. In doing so, it decreases the profitability of these corporations and allows a mass amount of individuals to feel influential and able to make a difference. The outcome is not determined yet but we should all be watching the trial and its results very closely.


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