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ISOJ 2015

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  1. 1. Live Tweeting a Presidential Primary Debate: Kyle Heim Assistant Professor Seton Hall University Email: International Symposium on Online Journalism April 18, 2015 Comparing the Content of Twitter Posts and News Coverage
  2. 2. News coverage of presidential politics Three stages of news coverage:  1960s: Emphasis on candidates’ policy statements  1970s: “Strategy” coverage  1988 onward: Media-focused “metacoverage” Shift toward strategy, metacoverage blamed for increasing political cynicism
  3. 3. Research questions  How did the Twitter stream from the Iowa primary debate compare with news coverage and the debate itself in the discussion of policy and character?  How did the Twitter stream from the Iowa primary debate compare with news coverage in the use of strategy coverage and media- focused metacoverage?
  4. 4. Dec. 10, 2011, Iowa GOP primary debate Sample of texts:  Debate transcript  Newspaper, wire service coverage  3,032 tweets Methods:  Quantitative centering resonance analysis (CRA) to identify most influential words  Qualitative textual analysis
  5. 5. Debate transcript Most influential words included … Policy-oriented words:  issue  Palestinian  money  tax
  6. 6. News coverage Most influential words included … Strategy-oriented words:  poll  rival  attack Policy-oriented words:  health, care  Palestinian, Israel  economy
  7. 7. Twitter discussion Most influential words included … References to Mitt Romney’s bet offer:  tenthousand  dollar Media-oriented words:  Diane, Sawyer  ABC, #ABCdebate
  8. 8. Results Discussion of policy:  Policy was central to the debate and news coverage but NOT on Twitter.  However, Twitter users tried to raise policy issues not being addressed in the debate.
  9. 9. Results Discussion of character:  Twitter discussion was dominated by Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet offer and what it said about Romney’s character.
  10. 10. Results Use of strategy coverage:  Twitter discussion was dominated by strategy.  Debate was framed as a boxing match, circus, pageant.
  11. 11. Results Use of media-focused metacoverage:  Twitter discussion focused heavily on the role of the ABC moderators.
  12. 12. Implications  Twitter less substantive than news coverage (emphasis on strategy over policy)  Reliance on Twitter could increase political cynicism  Twitter not a substitute for news coverage; “gatekeepers” and “curators” needed
  13. 13. Implications  Twitter discussion as a critique of the staged, artificial nature of political debates  Twitter discussion as backlash against political agenda driven by candidates, news media
  14. 14. Kyle Heim, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Communication and the Arts Seton Hall University Email: Twitter: @krheim