TikTok: Gen Z’s Leading News Outlet?

Tara Dorlag, Staff Writer

OPINION — Currently in Congress, there is a hearing being conducted to determine whether the popular social media app TikTok should be banned. This is due to the fears of the American public that since TikTok is owned by a Chinese corporation, private and personal data are being collected and leaked. But, if you’ve been around for the past several years since TikTok’s rise in popularity around 2020, when the coronavirus first struck, you’re most likely aware of the fact that this has been a discussion for a long time. If the app is not bought-out by an American company, a ban is looking highly likely.

But what about the people who have moved past outdated American practices such as watching the nightly news or picking up the paper from the sidewalk? Those who are used to technology know that advancements have been made so that there is no need to manually or organically receive news from older methods. On top of that, even the regular 5 o’clock news fails to inform its viewers of top stories, while apps such as Tik Tok and Instagram have been sources of major world news for the past several years. 

I, as a member of Generation Z, have found more of my local and worldwide news via social media platforms. This past week, for example, I was completely unaware of the dangerous and potentially deadly riots going on in Paris. Had it not been for a TikTok I stumbled upon, I most likely still would have not been aware. Shocked, I then proceeded to look at the comments and saw how thousands upon thousands of people were sharing my experience and solid questions being asked: 

“Why am I just now seeing this?” 

“Why isn’t this being talked about on the news?” 

“Why is Tik Tok the source of which I’m finding out about this? 

Many more comments were left by viewers who were amazed by why these riots were happening and that Tik Tok was the viable news source of this important information. The video itself accumulated over 500,000 likes and nearly one million views. That leads me to believe that about 500,000 people were just now finding out about Paris — myself included. I then realized just how much we as a generation, and as a society, rely on these platforms for information otherwise not received anywhere else. 

Next, I decided to take it upon myself to do research on this particular topic. In a report by Statista.com, 50% of Gen Z were getting their news from social media in 2022. Only 9%

were receiving it from the local news, and 5% were getting it from newspapers. This is an overwhelming statistic. These findings left me curious as to how other generations in this day and age were also receiving their information. 

Another study conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that  “About six-in-ten online Millennials (61%) report getting political news on Facebook in a given week, a much larger percentage than turn to any other news source.” Baby Boomers showed that they were still on the lower end of generations that receive their news from social media, at 39%, but still a large percentage. Their main source of social media news is derived from Facebook. 

This study made me consider the rising percentages of news being fed through social media applications and how those percentages will continue to impact not only my generation, but future generations as well. With studies showing that social media is the main source of news for each up-and-coming generation, it will only get higher. Adhering to the times and understanding the importance of social media will govern a new type of journalism and news reach.

While the same in theory, there are differences between regular news stations and outlets and social media platforms. Understanding what audiences want and looking at the way in which they derive their news sources will help generations adapt to receiving news from social media, which will make it not so much of a shock when one receives information from TikTok instead of a local news station. I believe that there should be news and radio stations, but there should also be a level of respect in regard to where the majority of news is now coming from, which is social media.

If Congress decides to ban TikTok, it will be banning a form of freedom of speech and an important news outlet to those in my generation. People have become so accustomed to the app, and another one like it will eventually make its way to popularity. People derive so much important information from apps such as Tik Tok, and if this is the way a large majority of our population is receiving news that they wouldn’t see anywhere else, people will feel it is a right of passage to have access to vital outlets such as TikTok. Keeping apps like TikTok around is important for not only my generation, but future ones as well.

Sources: https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2015/06/01/millennials-political-news/. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1124159/us-generational-social-media-news/