Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Research Report_How Luther went viral_CHO

Social media is an integral part of today’s modern world. Facebook and twitter have become part of our daily lives and continue to change the way we interact with one another in a social context. It is because of the creation of social networking platforms in the digital world however, that we forget the true meaning of social media and its’ surprising history. Social media has played a key role in the revolution from the church, known as the reformation. Martin Luther and his use of social media to spread his ideas are elaborated upon in the article “How Luther went viral” written anonymously and published in The Economist; The Economist is an internationally distributed “political, literary and general newspaper” that offers “analysis and opinion…to cover the main events—business and political—of the week.

The use of anonymity in the writing process is very unique and interesting and continues to be effective because The Economist has a solid foundation of supporters and a trustworthy reputation. The Economist uses anonymity to achieve a “collective voice” in their articles while stressing the “belief that what is written is more important than who writes it” as well. According to Blur by Tom Rosenstiel and Bill Kovach, the exclusion of an author in general reduces the overall credibility of a newspaper article. Without an author, the readers or news consumers have no reference to the credibility of an article; the author typically represents and vouches for the facts and views establish in an article. However, in the case of The Economist, the newspaper is a longstanding credible source of news founded upon the idea of anonymity. Also The Economist is not a typical newspaper; it has separated itself from the rest by establishing a clear voice and opinionated views on the world’s current political, social and financial issues.

By establishing a strong voice and opinion, The Economist strays from the objective representation of the news. The method of subjective reporting has its advantages and disadvantages over objective journalism. News consumers can choose The Economist to read articles that are informative yet have a clear message trying to be conveyed. However, when trying to get straight news accounts of real world issues, The Economist might not be the most effective choice when trying to avoid bias. In terms of the article “How Luther went viral” the use of opinion and voice provided an insightful and entertaining comparison into the use of social media in the 16th and 21st centuries. When established in 1843, The Economist had a foundation of liberal ideals from its founder James Wilson. The liberal beliefs that were at the heart of The Economist since the beginning are clearly visible today as well. The article “How Luther went viral” shows a strong support for Martin Luther’s usage of social media and social networks to jumpstart the reformation. The authors also show a support for how social media today has helped spark the Arab spring and other such revolutionary movements against censorship and dominating political factions. The message would not be as effective in an objective tone; the use of a clear opinionated voice supplemented with other objective sources of news provides a thorough and interesting recounting of the world’s current events.

About Us. The Economist. Retrieved from

Kovach B., Rosenstiel T. (2011). Blur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload.

The Economist. (2011, Dec 29). How Luther went viral. Retrieved from

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