Join TheConversation:How SpanishJournalistsAre Using Twitter.
As part of their professional routine, journalistsare gradually joining the ranks of active usersof social networks like Twitter o Facebook.Following some on the fly strategy or justwinging it, and fully putting into practice theidea that “one must be where the people are,”they distribute information coming from theirown media, viralize information from otherusers/media, editorialize as they go, sum updaily life or shoot the breeze about a variety oftopics.This paper presents the results of an in-depthsurvey conducted with 50 Spanish journalistswith active professional profiles on Twitter. AbstractThe aim of the survey was to find out how theyare using this social media at work, how theyfeel about it and what their expectations are. 2Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.THE UNEASINESS IN JOURNALISMThe world of journalism is experiencing troubled advertising revenue, the drastic readjustments oftimes, as is common in transitional moments. The staff, the loss of readers, and even, in some ways,Internet has brought about radical changes in the the loss of credibility and social relevance of aquasi-monopoly of mediation (and of journalism that mainly relies on institutional“aggregation”) that the press and the rest of the agendas that do not necessarily prioritize publicso-called “old media” or “legacy media” boasted of interest, are key factors.for nearly the entire 20th century. A recent report for Columbia University’s TowDisintermediation means that many other Center for Digital Journalism1, pondered theintermediaries have entered the scene, devoted in magnitude of the change: “The monopoly orprinciple to “direct traffic” and not to “making oligopoly that most metropolitan newscars” (although some of them have begun to focus organizations enjoyed by the last quarter of theon creating content). Google, Yahoo, Twitter, 20th Century meant they could charge high ratesFacebook, Apple, YouTube...these are the new to advertisers, even if their audiences had shrunkmetagatekeepers. (...) The move to digital delivery has transformedJournalists are among those suffering the not just the business of news, but also the wayconsequences most directly. The constant news is reported, aggregated, distributed anddisruptions caused by the dizzying pace of shared (...) If the old formula of “adjacency” -sellingtechnological innovation, the radical reduction of ads and commercials alongside content- is fading ,entry barriers to the Internet, the decline of what will replace it? There are many possibilities,1 Bill Grueskin, Ava Seave and Lucas Graves (2011): The Story so Far. What we Know About the Business of Digital Journalism, ColumbiaJournalism School: http://www.cjr.org/the_business_of_digital_journalism/ 3
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.but few are likely, on their own, to provide the laconic and resigned “trading dollars for dimes”. Atstream of dollars that advertising and circulation the same time, against this somber backdrop, theonce did”. consumption of online news has grown steadilyMore than six years ago (an eternity in “Internet over the last years: “People are spending moretime”), on May 23rd, 2005, in an article published in time with news than ever before, according to PewThe Wall Street Journal titled “How Old Media Can Research Center survey data, but when it comes toSurvive In a New World”, it was asserted: “Theres the platform of choice, the web is gaining groundno question: Traditional media businesses are rapidly while other sectors are losing. In 2010,struggling. Newspaper publishers, book publishers, digital was the only media sector seeing audiencemovie studios, music companies, ad agencies, growth”2.television networks -- theyre all trying to figure In this scenario of paradoxes and constant change,out how they fit into a new-media world. Their old a kind of structural transience and the system ofway of doing business isnt as profitable as it used “trial and error” are holding the reins, along with ato be, but they havent found a new way thats as string of miracle recipes that stubborn reality takesprofitable, either.” It seems that the search for El it upon itself to ruin: paywalls or no paywalls,Dorado is still ongoing more than five years later. massive audiences or audiences with a high degreeOn numerous occasions, we have heard the death of involvement, the “specialize or localize”knell sound for the printing press, tempered by the dilemma so often repeated that at present appearsfact that, up to now, advertising revenue has come to be beginning to faint, from skepticism andessentially from the printed newspapers, while the contempt to social media as a panacea....perception of Internet as a source of advertising If we had to summarize in one sentence therevenue for the news media is summed up in a complex situation of the journalistic media today,2 Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism: “The State of the News Media 2011” http://stateofthemedia.org/ 4
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.we could do it in quasi-Marxist terms: news media Having overcome the apocalyptic skepticism thaton the Internet have ceased to control the means many journalists expressed in the early days ofof production and the distribution of their product “online journalism,” the main risk at present is thatand have gone on to be “renters.” They are the the wound might not heal properly, taking fornew tenants of Twitter, Google, Facebook, Apple, granted that journalism’s transition toward theYouTube, etcetera. digital environment is complete, or on the way toThe overwhelming rise of Internet has to a large being so, merely because a journalist has a blog orextent modified the very concept of information an account with Twitter or Facebook and chatsand the relationship of audiences with the news with users and because the news media havemedia, and requires journalists to adapt to this new widely joined the participatory hype (essentially assituation on different fronts: content, genres and a way to measure audiences). But not even in itsnarrative forms, the relationship with audiences most pragmatic aspect, as a potential source ofand interaction with users in a medium that revenue from the sale of audiences to advertisers,incorporates large-scale feedback as one of its the management of the participation is, for thedistinctive features and, of course, the business of moment, producing the results expected from theon-line information, all without forgetting the powerful tools of web analytics and from theraison dêtre of journalism, its foundations and its hypersegmentation of audiences that the Internetessential link to the proper functioning of a facilitates.democratic system. But the keys to this adaptation In this context of transition and adaptation ofare still uncertain. All that seems clear is that the journalism to the new media environment that theold patterns are not working well in this new Internet has created, citizen participation madeenvironment. possible by Web 2.0 and its tools, and which 5
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.currently finds its maximum expression in social creating and editing contents, renewing thenetworks, blogs, forums or different forms of the informative agenda, redeveloping the concept ofso-called “citizen journalism,” has become one service applied to journalism or creativelymore instrument for capturing new audiences (one exploiting the Internet’s ability to segmentof journalism’s pending subjects, since long before audiences.the appearance of the Internet), and of course for A well-known example with a certain “sill” in anthe distribution and viralization of contents. The on-line scenario characterized by a virulentlast episode of the “reinvention of ties” with theoretical obsolescence is that of “citizenaudiences by the news media is precisely the journalism”. It is one of the most successfulpresence of journalists in social networks, often coinings as an attempt to acknowledge journalisticwithout a defined strategy for the use of these implications of interactivity. Though, it is difficultinstruments. The frenzy of social media has caught to overlook the fact that the spaces supposedlythem by surprise and they have to navigate this devoted to “citizen journalism” in news media arenew landscape without compass or guide. in most cases subject to a kind of “cordonOnce more, the main question is whether, in sanitaire” which prevents a productivegeneral terms, journalistic specificity is being convergence with the journalistic process. Thisexploited as an incentive for participation. What ultimately breaks the natural chain of feedbacknews media offers to users, on the media site or in between journalists and citizens.social networks, is usually the same formulas of It seems urgent to lay the foundations to developparticipation used by non-journalistic media, spaces for citizen participation adapted to newswithout exploring specific formulas of participation media, as well as new content that allows for theframed in more comprehensive strategies for exploitation of journalistic specificity and the 6
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.consolidation of the much-needed renewal of the Edward Bernays, who wrote in his classic“spectatorial link” to certain audiences, especially “Propaganda”: “To make customers is the newyoung adults. They will be the ones who decide the problem. One must understand not only his ownfuture of journalism in the most immediate way. business—the manufacture of a particularUp to now, they have not really been taken into product— but also the structure, the personality,account by journalists. News media, feeling secure the prejudices, of a potentially universal public.”for decades in their almost monopolistic mediation, Easier said than done, sure. But to take the bestdid not bother so much about their audiences. In advantage of interactive tools such as socialthis sense, Internet has widened a gap that already networks one needs to have some idea of exactlyexisted: the inability to connect with an important whom one is addressing. While there is no doubtsector of the public -young adults, active users of that journalists know their business better thanthe Internet and, especially, of social media- that is anyone else, it is doubtful that all the sophisticatedvital to the future of the profession, online and analytic tools available are being engaged for theoffline as well: “Nearly three quarters (73%) of purpose of understanding “the structure, theonline teens and equal number (72%) of young personality and the prejudices” of the public.adults use social network sites (...) the growth in We share the conviction that journalism must offeronline news consumption cut across age groups, the user much more than topics to discuss or itemsbut the growth was fueled in particular by young to viralize through social networks. It must offerpeople”3. dynamic platforms for interaction, participation in aIn summary, if news media want to “get more process-in this case, the journalistic process- andcustomers,” and there seems to be little doubt that spaces for the collaborative creation of content.this is their wish, they should perhaps listen to In one of the many definitions offered up about3 Amanda Lenhart, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, Kathryn Zickuhr (2010). Social Media and Young Adults” Pew Internet & American Life Project:http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults.aspx 7
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.social media, we intuit the reasons for the polyphonic mood that has invaded the discussioncentrality which journalism continues to occupy in about the “new media,” we continue to find, at thethe “new” arena of social media: “Social media beginning of the communicative process, a smallrefers to activities, practices, and behaviors among number of media/emitters (the “digital divide”communities of people who gather online to share seems to apply to social media too6) whichinformation, knowledge, and opinions using continue to be the ones being “talked about”.conversational media.”4 We may wonder where Among them, news media still play, in a significantmuch of this “shared” information comes from: way, the role that Gabriel Tarde attributed to“More than 99% of the stories linked to in blogs newspapers at the beginning of the 20th century:came from legacy outlets such as newspapers and “Journals have ended up running and shapingbroadcast networks. And just four the BBC, CNN, opinion almost at their whim, since they impose onthe New York Times and the Washington Post the speeches and talks most of their everydayaccounted for fully 80% of all links. Twitter, by issues”.7contrast, was less tied to traditional media. Here The fact remains that, at this moment in time,half (50%) of the links were to legacy outlets; 40% journalism still provides much of the fuel thatwent to web-only news sources such as Mashable powers the viral machinery of social media.and CNET. The remaining 10% went to wire stories It is hard to deny that social media are substantiallyor non-news sources on the Web.”5 changing the ways in which journalists relate toIn many ways, and although it might seem to be an their audiences. Yet it remains to be seen whetheranachronistic assertion in the midst of the Twitter will become an innovative tool for4 Lon Safko & David K. Brake (2009). The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons5 “Pew Research Center. Project for Excellence in Journalism (2010). “New Media, Old Media How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from TraditionalPress”. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1602/new-media-review-differences-from-traditional-press6 “Conventional wisdom tells us that the Internet is leveling the playing field and broadening the diversity of voices being heard, (...) But my findings show the Internet isactually reinforcing the socio-economic divisions that already exist, and may even heighten them, which has all sorts of implications as more of civic and economic lifemoves online.” Statements made by Jen Schradie, author of the article “The digital production gap: The digital divide and Web 2.0 collide” Poetics, 2011; 39 (2): 145-168 87 Gabriel Tarde (1899/1986). La opinión y la multitud. Madrid: Taurus
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.reporting, fostering a better knowledge of the public concern, are they getting closer in anpublic and their journalistic interests or whether unprejudiced way to those “new audiences”? Iteventually the “public relations” look shall prevail. requires first and foremost to get rid of a lot of aLeaving aside the problematic issue of priori assumptions and preconceptions. And this is“monetization”, currently Twitter seems to be not only a question of “giving the audiences whatmuch more a means of recycling and viralizing they want”, because as Steve Jobs once said, “a lotinformation than a means of gathering raw material of times people don’t know what they want untilfor subsequent reporting. In short, we must ask you show it to them,” but it has to do with beingourselves some questions: In which ways is the so responsive to their social, cultural, political andpraised “art of community” economical environments.fostering an improved media coverage of eventsand public issues? Are journalists and news mediataking advantage of these tools or are theyallowing themselves to be swept away by therelentless pace of innovation, losing in this raceagainst time some of what are supposed to betheir hallmarks? Are they acting or reacting? Arethey simply engaged in the mist of confusion,auguries and multitasking, in an almost heroicstruggle for survival in an unfamiliar environment,burdened by tradition? Are journalists usingTwitter to build new stories, to cover new topics of 9
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.HOW SPANISH JOURNALISTS ARE USING TWITTERSocial media, especially Twitter, are being social media like Facebook, Linkedin or YouTube.increasingly used by Spanish journalists as part The survey “Journalism and Social Networks” is aof their daily work, allegedly to connect with part of a research project about the state ofsources, engage with audiences and get closer to participation in the Spanish "infosphere". It hastheir interests. In practical terms, Twitter is being been sent to a selected sample consisting ofused to disseminate information through mentions journalists coming from different legacy media (Elor replays taking advantage of the viral potential of País, ABC, El Mundo, RTVE, Cadena Ser, Lasocial networks, or to build the so-called hyped Vanguardia, La Sexta, Público...) and others coming“personal brand”, trying not to “miss the boat”. from “online-only” news media (lainformacion.com, cuartopoder.es, 360grados.com...) in early AprilAt LABàPART (www.labapart.org), a research 2011 and was available from April to May 2011 togroup of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid facilitate its completion.devoted to analyzing the impact of social media onjournalism, we have been conducting an in-depth The average age of the respondents was 38,survey among 50 spanish journalists with an active having been working as journalists for an averageprofile on Twitter, in order to find out in which 15 years. The survey was structured and designedways they are using this social platform in their on the basis of 169 items, divided into 126 fourwork. We have also compared the way they are point Likert scale questions, one multiple choiceusing Twitter with their acknowledged use of other question and 42 single-answer questions. 10
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.The test was validated by expert judges: 5 seniorjournalists with a deep knowledge of social mediatools and processes.To calculate reliability we used the test-retestmethod. We obtained a reliability coefficient(Kappa index) of 0.76.Some of the key findings of the survey aregraphically summarized below. 11
01 / MOST USED SOCIAL MEDIA FOR PUBLISHING AND DISTRIBUTING INFORMATION. NEVER SOMETIMES QUITE A LOT HEAPSBLOGS FACEBOOK 20% 31% 13% 12% 41% 26% 16% 41%TWITTER YOUTUBE 20% 21% 2% 74% 43% 8% 3% 29%
VIRALIZING INFORMATION VIRALIZING INFORMATIONOF THEIR OWN NEWS MEDIA FROM OTHER MEDIA SOURCES TWITTER FACEBOOK TWITTER FACEBOOK82% 66% 67% 45%0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 A B 02/
ENGAGING YOUNG DEVELOPINGAUDIENCES AUDIENCE LOYALTY TWITTER FACEBOOK TWITTER FACEBOOK51% 47% 78% 58%0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 A B 06/
07 / SEEKING INFORMATION MOST IMPORTANT SOCIAL MEDIA TO SEEK CONTACTING SOURCES INFORMATION AND CONTACT SOURCES.BLOG TWITTER 76% 56% 93% 90%FACEBOOK LINKEDIN 38% 41% 18% 66%
08 / DO YOU BELIEVE THAT JOURNALISTIC INFORMATION ON TWITTER WITH RESPECT TO OTHER MEDIA IS...? Faster More More 100 varied ephemeral 95% More 81% 86% More 80 More sensationalistic biased superficial 60 52% More reliable 56% 58% 40 34% More thorough 20 13% 0
09 / HAVE SPECIFIC GUIDELINES OR SUGGESTIONS ABOUT THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA BEEN ESTABLISHED IN YOUR MEDIUM? No We are working on it 13% Yes 33% 54%
10 / WHEN YOU WRITE FOR THE WEB, HOW DO THE FOLLOWING FACTORS AFFECT YOUR WRITING?0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 The viral potential of the piece of information 44% The public interest 95% What is being published by other media 49% The quality and thoroughness of the information 97% The exclusiveness of the information 72%
11 / WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF PARTICIPATION IN NEWS SITES / SOCIAL MEDIA? NEWS SITES SOCIAL MEDIA0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100It allows a better knowledge of the audiences preferences 71% 90 %It is just a system to attract audiences 51% 66%It gratifies users but does not affect the agenda 30% 33%It has effects on the hierarchy of news 23% 36%It helps to broaden the agenda 36% 69%
12 / GRATIFICATIONS REPORTED BY BLOGS, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK. BLOG TWITTER FACEBOOKFEEDBACK FROM USERS USER-GENERATED CONTENT1008060 71% 28%4020 0 56% 87% 72% 47%MORE FREEDOM OF STYLE AND NEW ISSUES PRESTIGE1008060 72%4020 80% 72% 55% 55% 40% 0
13 / HOW SHOULD THE MEDIA PROMOTE QUALITY PARTICIPATION?0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100By allowing to leave comments and rating the news 90%By creating platforms for citizen journalism 52%By collaborating with the public in order to verify and expand information 85%By asking the audience to participate as witness 72%By giving monetary incentives to users 7%
Join the conversation: How spanish journalist are using Twitter.CONCLUSIONSTwitter is a platform well received (even warmly as a platform to make visible what is still beingwelcome) by the surveyed journalists. They see produced outside the logic and the potential ofit as a tool with great journalistic potential, unlike social networks, following the traditional paths ofother platforms. Gratifications seems to be high. reporting. By now Twitter remains, journalisticallyIt is an easy way to distribute information, drive speaking, a display, a storefront full of redundanttraffic and keep in touch with audiences and commodities, biding his time to become the richinstitutional sources. But it is less widely used for ground in which the journalists pick up rawinvestigative reporting or to contact with sources material to invigorate reporting. What we do notlikely to be integrated in effective reporting. know is whether that time will come or not.The results of the survey lead us to conclude that We hope so.Twitter is being mainly used in a surrogated way,
Pilar CarreraDirector of LABàPARTinfo@labapart.orgUniversidad Carlos III de Madrid. www.labapart.orgDpto. de Periodismo y Comunicación Audiovisual. Twitter: @labapart
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