I follow the BBC World, the Guardian and the New York Times through my Twitter account, among other news services, but I get more news and information from the friends I follow on the microblogging service. My friends just happen to read stories from a wide variety of sources and pass along the kind of information they are interested in, and that by extension, I am interested in. In other words, they act as my personal filters for news. And I can safely say that I return the favor for several of my friends as well.
This concept is not exclusive to the new media world. Since the 1940s, media scholars such as Paul Lazarsfeld have spoken about the two-step flow of communication where “opinion leaders” play a huge part in transmitting information from the media to its audience. These mediators help the process by disseminating news in a more concise, intelligible way, but also often infuse their personal agendas and perspectives. Opinion leaders have always existed; who they might be and how you obtain your information from them has changed over time. Continue reading