How Does Twitter Affect Journalism? [Report]

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It's no secret that Twitter is transforming the way that journalism is produced and received, for better or worse. Now a business reporter in Austria is taking an in-depth look at the question of why social media matters in journalism.

In association with POLIS, the London School for Economics and Political Science, EUROVISION published an opinion piece authored by Nadja Hahn, titled, What Good is Twitter? The Value of Social Media to Public Service Journalism

To show how social media activity can help public service broadcasters (PSBs) add value to their reporting, Hahn carried out a survey through the European Broadcast Union (EBU), asking how PSBs currently use social media and how it affects competition.

The survey results must be taken with some skepticism, as no methodology nor sample size is shown, but here are some of the main conclusions: 

  • Increasingly, people don’t actively look for news, but find it on social media instead. 43% of young people, aged 16-24, find their news on social media rather than through search engines.
     
  • Trust is key. Almost 60% of the respondents say they are more likely to click on a news link that comes from someone they know compared to a link from elsewhere. 
     
  • Twitter dominates news as compared to Facebook. It plays a more important role in breaking news and newsgathering than Facebook, which is much more about discussion.
     
  • Facebook is more important for sharing. Most links are shared via Facebook (55%), followed by Email (33%) and Twitter (23%). 
     
  • Most respondents- 65%- agree that social media provides public value. 95% agree that it adds value to their listeners. 
     
  • Many European PSBs are still struggling with social media. 46% say they do not have a social media strategy. Half of the respondents say that only a minority of their reporters are using social media on a daily basis, only 12% of the respondents say that most of their reporters use it.

Ultimately, Hahn concludes that social media is not a revolution of journalism for PSBs, it is evolution, serving as a tool, like the mobile phone.

New technologies and the Internet are clearly changing journalism, she argues, but social networks still require traditional journalistic values, like fact checking, accuracy, objectivity and communicating what is relevant and interesting. 

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