In the age of social media, the audience has been making its way into the newsroom by contributing to journalistic content and by distributing and sharing the news. But just how much impact does social media have on journalism as a whole? Three comprehensive studies offer unique insights into the new jobs social media has created and the ways in which various social media platforms influence what journalists report.
Social media workers and their roles
News organizations have also started to introduce new job titles in the newsroom that speak to what appears to be an emerging editorial role focused on navigating audience data and making sense of audience behavior, primarily acting as an intermediary between audience data and the newsroom.
Writing for Digital Journalism, two researchers conducted 15 in-depth interviews with engagement editors, social media editors and audience editors from different media systems around the world to understand these emerging roles and how they articulate the audience point of view in newsroom decisions.
The authors found that these editors have common routines in the newsroom, including tracking and understanding the audience, creating content on social media and strategizing. For example, a respondent said: “The first thing I do in the morning is [look at] how we did the previous day, checking the aggregated analytics. Then I start gathering what is planned for the day and I either request specific content for social media or adapt stories to suit various channels, like Facebook or Twitter.”
Engagement editors tend to focus more on the strategic use of audience knowledge within the newsroom. An engagement editor in the American edition of a British news outlet explained: “We always open the morning editorial meeting, where all of the editors and reporters are, to talk about engagement from the day before. It is a daily presentation, and then we write an email with more detail from our analytics tool so that anyone can see the charts and see the Top 10, Top 20, Top 25 different metrics.”
When it comes to defining engagement, the editors offered different definitions. For example, one editor said: “Engagement is somebody actually physically taking the time to write to us, to show the value by sharing something that we’ve written or taking the step to make somebody else aware that (our publication) exists. Somebody actually taking the step to physically like something or click something and communicate is what we consider engagement.”
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2y6hySO
Ferrer-Conill, R., & Tandoc Jr., E.C. (2018). The Audience-Oriented Editor. Digital Journalism, 6(4), 436-453.
Everybody else says…
Journalists have long been criticized for living in their own bubbles, a phenomenon that some industry commentators refer to as groupthink. In such situations, journalists think too much along similar lines and rarely give non-conformist narratives a voice.
Social networking sites have made it easier for journalists to communicate with one another. But have these communication channels changed the trend of group-thinking, which researchers often call homophily, among journalists?
Folker Hanusch and Daniel Nolleke of Department of Communication at the University of Vienna in Austria analyzed 600,000 tweets sent by 2,908 Australian journalists to examine how journalists interact with one another through retweets and mentions.
Results showed that in relation to gender, male journalists predominantly interact with other male journalists on Twitter. On average, male journalists interact with a much larger number of male than female journalists.
The case is similar for women, who interact more with other women than with men, although to a lesser degree. The same is true for mentions, with both men and women more likely to mention a journalist from their own gender. In terms of retweets, however, the results suggest much less of this phenomenon.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the authors found that journalists are significantly more likely to interact with colleagues from within their own organizations.
Beats also indicate homophilous networks, with journalists across all examined beats more likely to interact with others from their own beat. Still, some beats are more homophilous than others. In particular, sports reporters stand out, and the authors also found a medium-sized effect for political journalists.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2pRIfGv
Hanusch, F., & Nölleke, D. (2018). Journalistic Homophily on Social Media, Exploring journalists’ interactions with each other on Twitter. Digital Journalism, 6(7), 1-23.
Twitter an essential source
Sourcing has been a pivotal component in traditional journalism. Access to sources and gathering information from them enable journalists to enrich their pieces. Advances in technology have offered journalists various social networking sites that promise faster access to elites, to the voice of the people and to parts of the world that are otherwise difficult to reach.
To analyze whether journalists’ use of sources has changed with the introduction of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, researchers Gerret von Nordheim, Karin Boczek and Lars Koppers from Technical University of Dortmund in Germany analyzed the content of three newspapers: The Guardian in the UK, The New York Times in the U.S. and Suddeutsche Zeitung in Germany.
The authors analyzed the content of the newspapers covering the period since the launch of the platforms Twitter (2006) and Facebook (2004) until the end of 2016.
Results showed that after a period of stagnation at the beginning of this decade, the use of social media sources has resurged massively in recent years. Twitter is more commonly used as a news source than Facebook.
The New York Times used fewer Facebook sources than Twitter over the entire period. The number of Twitter sources used as early as late 2012 surpassed the number of Facebook sources used in early 2014.
The trend of sourcing Facebook and Twitter in The Guardian is similar to the trend in The New York Times.
In Suddeutsche Zeitung, Twitter was sourced in 1 to 2 percent of all articles since 2013. In 2016, the German newspaper sourced Facebook and Twitter equally. In the same year, The New York Times sourced Twitter at least 50 percent more often than Facebook, The Guardian even about 150 percent more often.
The authors also found that Twitter is primarily used as an elite channel compared to Facebook.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2IXcsg7
Von Nordheim, G., Boczek, K., & Koppers, L. (2018). Sourcing the Sources: An analysis of the use of Twitter and Facebook as a journalistic source over 10 years in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Digital Journalism, 6(7), 807-828.