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TWEETING #FERGUSON:
MEDIATIZED FIELDS AND
THE NEW ACTIVIST JOURNALIST
Stephen Barnard
St. Lawrence University
@socsavvy
Ferguson
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Flickr user ep_jhu
Source
Source
Source
Twitter & #Ferguson
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Unrest and Arrest
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Source
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Source
Professional journalists
also targeted
Source
 What happens ...
Conflict & Media Criticism
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Source
Amateur vs. Professional
Media
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
 Conflict at the
intersection of (ci...
Mediatization
 Mediatization emphasizes
the social significance of
the changes following
processes of mediation in
a netw...
The Rise of Affective News
Objective & Affective News The Affective Domain
 Objectivity
 (Schudson 1978; Reese 1990).
 ...
Research Questions
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
1. What are the similarities and differences
betw...
Methods & Sampling
 Digital ethnographic content analysis (DECA)
 “hashtags offer a window to peep through, but it is
on...
Begin End Data Plot Total
Tweets
Peak
Aug. 9, 2014
(Michael
Brown shot)
Aug. 21, 2014
(calm returns;
grand jury
begins) 22...
Coding Scheme
 Format
 the manner in which information is
presented
 tweet; link; image; conversation
 Frames
 ‘focus...
Codes/Concepts
 Objective
 Factual reporting; avoidance of opinion, emotion, or
loaded language
 Affective
 Emotional ...
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
FINDINGS
Network Map of Influencers
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Networks divided by group
Journalists Activists
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Format: Tweet Type
Journalists Activists
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
 On average, activists are...
Format: Media
Journalists Activists
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
 On average, journalists are a ...
Discourse: #Ferguson vs.
Ferguson
Journalists Activists
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
 Journalist...
Discourse: Top Domain Links
JOURNALISTS ACTIVISTS
Domain Count Domain Count
vine.co 786 vine.co 1734
instagram.com 281 ins...
Frame: Objective vs.
Affective News
Journalists Activists
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Theme: Media Criticism
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Theme: Police Criticism
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Theme: Shared Experience
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
Conclusions
 Connection & Hybridity
 Networks
 Themes & practices
 Networked Habitus & Capital
 Like many journalists...
Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
THANK YOU…
I look forward to comments
and questions
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Tweeting #Ferguson: Mediatized fields and the new activist journalist

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The growing mediatization of everyday life has led to the emergence of new forms of social movements and political contestation. While this trend can be examined meaningfully through the lenses of traditional political, journalistic, and activist cultures, there is something about the distinct combination of communicative action and affective labor that carries uniquely transformative implications (Castells 2015). Whereas popular, individualized articulations of affective empowerment, and personal politics have been criticized for their lack of bearing on material realities (Barnard 2016b), alternative forms of expression on social media appear to have much deeper resonance with political and activist cultures, and therefore much greater chances at contributing to social change. Nevertheless, collective identity and collective action, supported through active engagement with networked technologies, are requisite characteristics of new social movements.

Whether on the ground, on Twitter, or both, participants in the #Ferguson protests expressed feelings of outrage against major social institutions—namely the criminal justice system and the mainstream media. This paper will examine the role that citizen journo-activists play in the transformation of political and journalistic cultures. As a hybrid, journo-activist space, tweeting #Ferguson quickly emerged as an effective way for interested actors to network and spread their message. Similarly, many networked journalists—increasingly referred to as “j-tweeters” (Hedman 2015)—have taken to Twitter to collect and share information about the events in Ferguson. Using a combination of digital ethnography and content analysis of tweets from #Ferguson, this study examines journalistic and activist uses of Twitter as well as the correspondent implications for changes in field relations and practices. Given the growing convergence of these two fields, as well as their concurrent practices, this case study provides unique insights about the role of digital media in efforts aiming to share information and bolster social change.

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Tweeting #Ferguson: Mediatized fields and the new activist journalist

  1. 1. TWEETING #FERGUSON: MEDIATIZED FIELDS AND THE NEW ACTIVIST JOURNALIST Stephen Barnard St. Lawrence University @socsavvy
  2. 2. Ferguson Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University Flickr user ep_jhu Source Source Source
  3. 3. Twitter & #Ferguson Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  4. 4. Unrest and Arrest Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University Source
  5. 5. Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University Source Professional journalists also targeted Source  What happens when shared interests and experiences (i.e. tear-gassing and arrest) are combined with differences in practices and objectives?
  6. 6. Conflict & Media Criticism Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University Source
  7. 7. Amateur vs. Professional Media Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University  Conflict at the intersection of (citizen) journalism and activism  “Whose side are you on?” (Araiza, Sturm, Istek and Bock 2016)  At the same time, there’s a lot of cooperation and hybridity  Brian Stelter himself is a blogger-turned-journalist
  8. 8. Mediatization  Mediatization emphasizes the social significance of the changes following processes of mediation in a networked society  "Mediatization studies move the focus of interest from the particular instances of mediated communication to the structural transformation of the media in contemporary culture and society" (Hjarvard, 2013:2). Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University  Mediatized News  Hermida (2010; 2012); Barnard (2016)
  9. 9. The Rise of Affective News Objective & Affective News The Affective Domain  Objectivity  (Schudson 1978; Reese 1990).  Affective News  (Papacharissi andOliveira 2012)  Affective Publics  (Papacharissi 2014)  Affective Labor  (Thomas and Correa 2015) Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University Source
  10. 10. Research Questions Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University 1. What are the similarities and differences between professional journalists and activists’ tweeting of #Ferguson? 2. What is the structural composition of the field of activists and journalists tweeting #Ferguson? 3. What formats and discursive approaches are apparent in the #Ferguson tweets? What does this reveal about the mediatized field of journo-activism? 4. What themes and frames are found in the #Ferguson tweets?
  11. 11. Methods & Sampling  Digital ethnographic content analysis (DECA)  “hashtags offer a window to peep through, but it is only by stepping through that window and ‘following’ (in bothTwitter and non-Twitter terms) individual users that we can begin to place tweets within a broader context” (Bonilla and Rosa 2015:7).  Lists of influential journo-activists (46) and j-tweeters (46)  Keyword search (#Ferguson OR “Ferguson”) during four key periods in Ferguson Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  12. 12. Begin End Data Plot Total Tweets Peak Aug. 9, 2014 (Michael Brown shot) Aug. 21, 2014 (calm returns; grand jury begins) 22,528 3,043 (Aug. 19) Sept. 25, 2014 (police chief Dotson apologizes to Brown family) Sept. 30, 2014 (police officer shot on Sept. 27 in unrelated event; sporadic actions) 8,222 1,448 (Sept. 30) Oct. 14, 2014 (police arrest dozens of protesters) Oct. 23, 2014 (leaked autopsy report on Oct. 22) 6,052 663 (Oct. 23) Nov. 17, 2014 (state of emergency declared) Nov. 27, 2014 (Grand Jury announcement Nov. 24) 13,830 3,056 (Nov. 25) Dark blue = all posts Light blue = reactions (RT & @reply) 50,632 Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  13. 13. Coding Scheme  Format  the manner in which information is presented  tweet; link; image; conversation  Frames  ‘focus on what will be discussed, how it will be discussed, and, above all, how it will not be discussed’  Context; perspective; focus  Themes  ‘recurring typical theses’ that span multiple texts within a broader discourse  Patterns in the text  Discourse  “the parameters [or field] of relevant meaning that one uses to talk about things”  Direction and meaning; topic and audience Source: Altheide and Schneider, 2013: 51–53 Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  14. 14. Codes/Concepts  Objective  Factual reporting; avoidance of opinion, emotion, or loaded language  Affective  Emotional and reactive; Often stream-of- consciousness, opinion, using natural language  Media criticism  Observations or critiques about mainstream media  Could include biases in coverage, practices, etc.  Meta-discourse  Reporting about reporting; tweeting about tweeting Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  15. 15. Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University FINDINGS
  16. 16. Network Map of Influencers Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  17. 17. Networks divided by group Journalists Activists Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  18. 18. Format: Tweet Type Journalists Activists Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University  On average, activists are a little more reactive or conversational (@replys and RTs)  Journalists are a little more authorial
  19. 19. Format: Media Journalists Activists Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University  On average, journalists are a little more likely to link and share photos;  Activists are a little more likely to tweet videos and text-only  BUT, this might have something to do with how much activists tweet (70% of dataset)
  20. 20. Discourse: #Ferguson vs. Ferguson Journalists Activists Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University  Journalists are a little less likely to use the hashtag and a little more likely to use the keyword
  21. 21. Discourse: Top Domain Links JOURNALISTS ACTIVISTS Domain Count Domain Count vine.co 786 vine.co 1734 instagram.com 281 instagram.com 1252 washingtonpost.co m 213 youtube.com 469 buzzfeed.com 195 twitter.com 236 latimes.com 180 stltoday.com 221 stltoday.com 174 huffingtonpost.com 202 youtube.com 153 ustream.tv 199 huffingtonpost.co m 134 thisisthemovement.launchrock.co m 150 googleweblight.co m 105 scribd.com 130 twitter.com 88 washingtonpost.com 126 ksdk.com 86 livestream.com 107 msnbc.com 85 latimes.com 93 kmov.com 73 us5.campaign-archive2.com 91 edition.cnn.com 67 googleweblight.com 85 wsj.com 67 storify.com 83 usatoday.com 64 facebook.com 79 news.vice.com 52 ksdk.com 77 theguardian.com 52 secure.piryx.com 75 livestream.com 42 bambuser.com 74 riverfronttimes.co m 42 msnbc.com 73  Similarities  Top = Vine & Instagram  (popular video and photo apps in 2014)  Some combination of MSM and social media  Top 10: STLtoday; HuffPo; Twitter;YouTube  Shared linking  Differences  Journalists: more mainstream  WaPo; Buzzfeed;  Activists: more social  Twitter; Ustream; Livestream Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  22. 22. Frame: Objective vs. Affective News Journalists Activists Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  23. 23. Theme: Media Criticism Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  24. 24. Theme: Police Criticism Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  25. 25. Theme: Shared Experience Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  26. 26. Conclusions  Connection & Hybridity  Networks  Themes & practices  Networked Habitus & Capital  Like many journalists (Barnard 2016), some activists have used theirTwitter participation as a launch-pad  Deray McKesson; BLM  Difference & Distinction  Frames  Journalists mostly objective  Activists mostly affective  Discourse  Journalists mostly mainstream  Activists mostly social and alternative Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University
  27. 27. Stephen Barnard | @socsavvy | St. Lawrence University THANK YOU… I look forward to comments and questions

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