The rising popularity of social media as a distribution channel offers new ways to connect with audiences in an increasingly fragmented media landscape. Media outlets often apply various techniques to engage readers on social networking sites. While sharing a news piece, journalists add a status message to it, which also forces journalists to balance the interpersonal and subjective logic of social media with professional journalistic norms.
Kasper Welbers of VU University in Netherlands and Michaël Opgenhaffen of the Institute for Media Studies at the University of Leuven in Belgium investigated how news media address this challenge, focusing on their use of Facebook status messages.
The authors analyzed status messages (294,061) from Facebook pages of four newspapers in Belgium and five from the Netherlands.
Results showed that status messages included emojis and emoticons, which were absent in headlines and leads. This indicates that while emojis are not considered appropriate for traditional journalistic texts, this is different for status messages. A similarly explicit difference in linguistic style is the more playful use of punctuation. Status messages sometimes contain multiple exclamation and question marks as an informal way of adding emphasis (e.g. ! !!,? ??). This conveys a sense of subjectivity because it implies that the author thinks that something should be exclaimed or questioned more vividly.
The authors found several patterns in word use that indicate a less formal type of communication. One of the words that jump out is “Aldus,” which occurred 1451 times in status messages but only 16 times in headlines. This is a less formal way of quoting or paraphrasing someone, roughly meaning “as said by.”
Results also indicated that the amount of subjectivity in status messages was significantly higher than the amount of subjectivity in headlines. The status messages also contained more positive language compared to headlines and leads.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2SXWQxC
Welbers, K. & Opgenhaffen, M. (2018). Presenting News on Social Media: Media logic in the communication style of newspapers on Facebook. Digital Journalism, 6(7), 1-18.