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Journalism in the Social Media Age


Social media can be a journalist’s most effective tool, but only if used correctly. In a time when more users are turning to social media to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world around them, journalists who want to set themselves apart need to analyze their own social media usage in order to reach the widest, most appropriate audience. The following academic articles examine topics related to which platforms journalists can find the most success when preparing and sharing news stories.

#1 The News User on Social Media

The author examines how news organizations are making use of their Facebook and Instagram accounts and to what extent users are interacting with the content. He also discusses how Instagram is gaining popularity among younger internet users and what news organizations need to do to tailor their presence on the pictures-only platform to attract them.

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#2 Audience Preferences of News Stories on Social Media

The case study investigates which types of news stories users are more likely to comment on and like on different social media platforms, separating them into categories such as politics, human interest, and local order. It found which types of stories users are most likely to interact with and how audience members choose which platforms to log into based on which category of news stories they are most interested in.

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#3 Now Tweet This: How News Organizations Use Twitter

The authors examined local, regional, and national media outlets to determine how stories were shared within Twitter’s 140-character limit, looking specifically at links, headlines, subjects, and individual reporters used the platform. They also analyzed which types of tweets were most likely to be shared by followers of both broadcast agencies and print-based organizations.

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#4 Most Local Newspapers Use Pinterest Only for News

Pinterest is a social media platform typically used to organize and share ideas related to lifestyle or health topics, but it can be incredibly useful for journalists looking to share news updates. This article looks at how a collection of local newspapers utilized the platform to provide visual content to followers, including mug shots of criminals and profiles of influential community members.

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#5 News Publishing Across Platforms

The author looked at how The New York Times, one of the biggest names in print journalism, tailors its social media content to different audiences on different social media platforms. The study inspects how the newspaper publishes stories in print and on its website while comparing it to the blips of information shared on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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#6 The American Journalist in the Digital Age

This article includes interviews with journalists to find out how they use technology and social media to select and put stories together. It follows four decades of similar surveys of journalists to track changes in the industry.

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#7 Differences in Social Support Across Social Media

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This article looks at the idea of “social support” users feel they have with others on various social media platforms. While it doesn’t directly mention news organizations, the information can be useful to show news leaders how they can effectively utilize different platforms at the same time to complement their coverage and ensure users get the most out of their updates.

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#8 Who Shares and Comments on News?

The study analyzed which social media users are most likely to engage with media outlets online and the likelihood that they will continue that engagement with the outlets offline. It also introduces the idea of the 1% rule, in which “only 1% of users will actively engage and 9% engage a little, while the remaining 90% simply lurk,” while examining the different factors that keep users from commenting on news articles.

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#9 News Sharing in Social Media: A Review of Current Research

The article reviewed both quantitative and qualitative research to determine the relationship between social media users and their online news consumption in the digital age. It looks specifically at the relationship between users, content, and networks, finding out how users come into contact with news stories and how their own browsing and sharing behavior leads to more news exposure.

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#10 Forums for citizen journalists?

Mainstream media outlets are often criticized for distancing themselves from so-called “citizen journalists,” or members of the public who use the internet and social media to report their own information. This article looks at how editors are jumping over legal hurdles and commercial obligations to utilize grassroots journalists to help enhance their outlet’s coverage.

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#11 How journalists verify user-generated content

When major news breaks, social media becomes flooded with pictures, videos, and quotes from users near the scene. This user-generated content can be extremely useful for newsrooms to immediately showcase up-close looks at breaking news situations as it happens, but in the race to publish the content, outlets may overlook important steps in the verification process. The article looks a journalistic sourcing and verification practices by looking back at Twitter conversations during the 2016 terror attacks in Brussels and lessons learned by individual journalists and news organizations who failed appropriately cite some online content to ensure it was legitimate before putting it on air.

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#12 When Journalists Tweet

News organizations are constantly fighting to improve their credibility, and a major piece of that credibility involves transparency. The article addresses how important it is that journalists remain transparent on social media when discussing their stories, sources, and mistakes, and how that transparency can ultimately help users trust the outlet as objective and fair.

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