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Sharing the News:
Dissemination of Links to
Australian News Sites on
Twitter
Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield, and Stephen Harrington
ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Australia

a.bruns | t.highfield | s.harrington @ qut.edu.au
@snurb_dot_info | @timhighfield | @_StephenH
http://mappingonlinepublics.net/
SOCIAL MEDIA AND REAL-TIME NEWS

• Key news-related uses of social media:
   – First-hand news reports:
        • Hudson River emergency landing; Abbottabad raid; crises and disasters
   – Continuing news discussion:
        • Information sharing, commentary, story curation
   – ‘Ambient’ news coverage (Hermida; Burns):
        • Early indicator of breaking stories; trending topics, themes, URLs, etc.


• Ad hoc formation of online communities:
   –   Drawing on available tools and platforms
   –   Driven by current themes and problems
   –   Quasi-journalistic research and commentary
   –   User-driven data journalism
HASHTAG METRICS
SHARING THE NEWS

• Twitter as a medium for news dissemination:
   – Mainstream news sources remain important
   – Twitter news sharing as a form of user-driven curation
   – Everyday practice, heightened around acute events

• Gatewatching (Bruns, 2005):
   – Collaborative tracking and sharing of relevant news
   – By everyday users as well as journalists and other newsmakers

• Beyond hashtags:
   – Sometimes centred around shared hashtags (#budget, #auspol)
   – Usually a much more widespread, non-hashtagged practice
INVESTIGATING NEWS SHARING

• Standard Twitter research:
   – Tracking of keywords / hashtags through Twitter API
   – E.g. yourTwapperkeeper: delivers CSV/TSV datasets of tweets
   – Further processing of datasets as required

• Tracking news sharing:
   – Use of domain names (abc.net.au, smh, com.au) as keywords
   – Returns all tweets containing these domain names
   – Including tweets where URLs have been shortened
     (e.g. abc.net.au  bit.ly  t.co)
   – Enables tracking of all tweets which refer to specific sites
ATNIX: AUSTRALIAN TWITTER NEWS INDEX
                                                                       abc.net.au
                                                                       adelaidenow.com.au
•   Basic principles:                                                  afr.com
                                                                       au.news.yahoo.com
     – ATNIX tracks 29 leading news and opinion sites                  brisbanetimes.com.au
     – Further filtering for abc.net.au, ninemsn.com.au, sbs.com.au,   canberratimes.com.au
       by URL paths (broadcaster sites with extensive non-news         couriermail.com.au
       content); au.news.yahoo.com (general site + West Australian)    crikey.com.au
                                                                       dailytelegraph.com.au
     – Links to opinion sections extracted by URL paths if possible    heraldsun.com.au
     – Tweets by staff and corporate accounts are retained             independentaustralia.net
       (key sources of retweets)                                       nationaltimes.com.au
     – Aggregation into daily and weekly volume                        newmatilda.com
                                                                       news.com.au
                                                                       ninemsn.com.au
•   Parallels?                                                         nit.com.au
     – Newspaper circulation: total number of sharing ‘readers’        ntnews.com.au
                                                                       onlineopinion.com.au
     – Television ratings: comparisons of Twitter ‘marketshare’        perthnow.com.au
     – But: URL tweets ≠ click-throughs / site hits / reads            sbs.com.au
                                                                       skynews.com.au
                                                                       smh.com.au
      ATNIX measures active audience engagement with content          theage.com.au
       (link sharing, regardless of whether articles have been read)   theaustralian.com.au
                                                                       theconversation.edu.au
                                                                       theglobalmail.org
                                                                       themercury.com.au
                                                                       thepunch.com.au
                                                                       watoday.com.au
Domain                     Operator      Notes                                                           State
  News sites
abc.net.au                 ABC           Australian Broadcasting Corporation, major public broadcaster   all
adelaidenow.com.au         News Ltd.     Adelaide Advertiser newspaper                                   SA
afr.com                    Fairfax       Australian Financial Review newspaper, special interest         all
au.news.yahoo.com          Yahoo!7       Seven Network (TV) / Yahoo! joint venture,                      all /
                                         includes The West Australian newspaper (Perth)                  WA
brisbanetimes.com.au       Fairfax       Brisbane Times online-only newspaper                            Qld.
canberratimes.com.au       Fairfax       Canberra Times newspaper                                        ACT
couriermail.com.au         News Ltd.     Courier-Mail newspaper (Brisbane)                               Qld.
dailytelegraph.com.au      News Ltd.     Daily Telegraph tabloid (Sydney)                                NSW
heraldsun.com.au           News Ltd.     Herald Sun tabloid (Melbourne)                                  Vic.
news.com.au                News Ltd.     news.com.au online-only news site                               all
ninemsn.com.au             ninemsn       Nine Network (TV) / Microsoft Network joint venture             all
nit.com.au                 Independent   National Indigenous Times, special interest                     all
ntnews.com.au              News Ltd.     Northern Territory News tabloid (Darwin)                        NT
perthnow.com.au            News Ltd.     Perth Now online-only news site                                 WA
sbs.com.au                 SBS           Special Broadcasting Service, minority public broadcaster       all
skynews.com.au             Sky News      Sky News pay-TV news channel                                    all
smh.com.au                 Fairfax       Sydney Morning Herald newspaper                                 NSW
theage.com.au              Fairfax       The Age newspaper (Melbourne)                                   Vic.
theaustralian.com.au       News Ltd.     The Australian newspaper                                        all
themercury.com.au          News Ltd.     The Mercury newspaper (Hobart)                                  Tas.
watoday.com.au             Fairfax       WA Today online-only news site (Perth)                          WA
  Opinion and Commentary
crikey.com.au              Independent   Crikey political commentary site                                all
independentaustralia.net   Independent   Independent Australia political commentary site                 all
nationaltimes.com.au       Fairfax       National Times commentary aggregator for Fairfax sites          all
newmatilda.com             Independent   New Matilda political commentary site                           all
onlineopinion.com.au       Independent   On Line Opinion political commentary site                       all
theconversation.edu.au     Independent   The Conversation universities-supported commentary site         all
thepunch.com.au            News Ltd.     The Punch commentary aggregator for News Ltd. sites             all
(total volume: 2.2m tweets)
NEWS SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
NEWS SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
KEY OBSERVATIONS FOR NEWS SITES

• Distribution of attention:
    – Some fluctuations, but week-to-week leaderboard largely stable
    – Major, quality national news sources most important (Sydney
      Morning Herald, ABC News)

• Standard weekly activity patterns:
    – Strong Mondays, decline over the week
    – Limited activity on weekend days, stronger for newspapers with
      weekend editions

• Significant spikes in activity:
    – Usually driven by domestic coverage reaching a global audience
      (Julian Assange, Snoop Dogg/Lion, One Direction)
    – Generally limited impact of major events on domestic activities:
      no significant increase during the London Olympics etc.
(total volume: 300k tweets)
OPINION SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
OPINION SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
KEY OBSERVATIONS FOR OPINION SITES

• Distribution of attention:
    – Significant fluctuations in attention share for sites
      (e.g. SMH marketshare ranging from 21% to 36% of total)
    – Mixture of mainstream mastheads / independent commentary sites
    – Minor sites occasionally very prominent
    – Performance usually centred on a handful of key articles
    – Poor performance by paywalled content

• Standard weekly activity patterns:
    – Drop-off on weekends, but less pronounced than for news
    – Occasionally major spikes on weekend days

• Significant spikes in activity:
    – Mixture of international and domestic stories / audiences
      (Julian Assange, but also Alan Jones)
SITE COMPARISONS (WEEK 27: 2-8 JULY)

• User activity:
     – Lead users (most active 1% of users)
     – Highly active users (next 9%)
     – Least active users (remaining 90%)

     – Use of URLs in original tweets, @replies, retweets




a) Sydney Morning Herald        b) ABC News                 c) news.com.au
AUDIENCE OVERLAP
CONCLUSIONS

• Twitter news sharing in Australia:
   – Significant level of activity, stable patterns overall
   – News much more widely shared than opinion
   – Quality sites preferred: does not match overall news
     consumption patterns in Australia
   – Possible indicator of Australian Twitter demographics
     (25-55, urban, affluent, educated)
   – Domestic interests may shift, but total volume remains
     relatively stable
   – Significant spikes mainly when international audiences
     share domestically-produced stories
OUTLOOK

• Open questions:
   – Sharing  reading:
       • Do shares result in hits on the sites?
       • Relative impact of celebrity vs. mass link tweeting?
   – Dissemination:
       • How do links travel through the network?
       • What is the role of official (corporate / staff) accounts?
   – Domestic / international patterns:
       • What proportion of the tweet volume is by Australian users?
       • What international news sites do these users link to?
   – Long-term patterns:
       • How does activity change over the course of the year?
       • Can we trace the impact of industry changes (e.g. paywalls)?
FURTHER INFORMATION

• ATNIX updates:
  – Collected on Mapping Online Publics:
    http://mappingonlinepublics.net/tag/atnix/
  – Weekly column at The Conversation:
    http://theconversation.edu.au/columns/axel-bruns-1433
http://mappingonlinepublics.net/
@snurb_dot_info
@jeanburgess
@_StephenH
@DrTNitins
@timhighfield
@cdtavijit

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Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter

  • 1. Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield, and Stephen Harrington ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia a.bruns | t.highfield | s.harrington @ qut.edu.au @snurb_dot_info | @timhighfield | @_StephenH http://mappingonlinepublics.net/
  • 2. SOCIAL MEDIA AND REAL-TIME NEWS • Key news-related uses of social media: – First-hand news reports: • Hudson River emergency landing; Abbottabad raid; crises and disasters – Continuing news discussion: • Information sharing, commentary, story curation – ‘Ambient’ news coverage (Hermida; Burns): • Early indicator of breaking stories; trending topics, themes, URLs, etc. • Ad hoc formation of online communities: – Drawing on available tools and platforms – Driven by current themes and problems – Quasi-journalistic research and commentary – User-driven data journalism
  • 4. SHARING THE NEWS • Twitter as a medium for news dissemination: – Mainstream news sources remain important – Twitter news sharing as a form of user-driven curation – Everyday practice, heightened around acute events • Gatewatching (Bruns, 2005): – Collaborative tracking and sharing of relevant news – By everyday users as well as journalists and other newsmakers • Beyond hashtags: – Sometimes centred around shared hashtags (#budget, #auspol) – Usually a much more widespread, non-hashtagged practice
  • 5. INVESTIGATING NEWS SHARING • Standard Twitter research: – Tracking of keywords / hashtags through Twitter API – E.g. yourTwapperkeeper: delivers CSV/TSV datasets of tweets – Further processing of datasets as required • Tracking news sharing: – Use of domain names (abc.net.au, smh, com.au) as keywords – Returns all tweets containing these domain names – Including tweets where URLs have been shortened (e.g. abc.net.au  bit.ly  t.co) – Enables tracking of all tweets which refer to specific sites
  • 6. ATNIX: AUSTRALIAN TWITTER NEWS INDEX abc.net.au adelaidenow.com.au • Basic principles: afr.com au.news.yahoo.com – ATNIX tracks 29 leading news and opinion sites brisbanetimes.com.au – Further filtering for abc.net.au, ninemsn.com.au, sbs.com.au, canberratimes.com.au by URL paths (broadcaster sites with extensive non-news couriermail.com.au content); au.news.yahoo.com (general site + West Australian) crikey.com.au dailytelegraph.com.au – Links to opinion sections extracted by URL paths if possible heraldsun.com.au – Tweets by staff and corporate accounts are retained independentaustralia.net (key sources of retweets) nationaltimes.com.au – Aggregation into daily and weekly volume newmatilda.com news.com.au ninemsn.com.au • Parallels? nit.com.au – Newspaper circulation: total number of sharing ‘readers’ ntnews.com.au onlineopinion.com.au – Television ratings: comparisons of Twitter ‘marketshare’ perthnow.com.au – But: URL tweets ≠ click-throughs / site hits / reads sbs.com.au skynews.com.au smh.com.au  ATNIX measures active audience engagement with content theage.com.au (link sharing, regardless of whether articles have been read) theaustralian.com.au theconversation.edu.au theglobalmail.org themercury.com.au thepunch.com.au watoday.com.au
  • 7. Domain Operator Notes State News sites abc.net.au ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation, major public broadcaster all adelaidenow.com.au News Ltd. Adelaide Advertiser newspaper SA afr.com Fairfax Australian Financial Review newspaper, special interest all au.news.yahoo.com Yahoo!7 Seven Network (TV) / Yahoo! joint venture, all / includes The West Australian newspaper (Perth) WA brisbanetimes.com.au Fairfax Brisbane Times online-only newspaper Qld. canberratimes.com.au Fairfax Canberra Times newspaper ACT couriermail.com.au News Ltd. Courier-Mail newspaper (Brisbane) Qld. dailytelegraph.com.au News Ltd. Daily Telegraph tabloid (Sydney) NSW heraldsun.com.au News Ltd. Herald Sun tabloid (Melbourne) Vic. news.com.au News Ltd. news.com.au online-only news site all ninemsn.com.au ninemsn Nine Network (TV) / Microsoft Network joint venture all nit.com.au Independent National Indigenous Times, special interest all ntnews.com.au News Ltd. Northern Territory News tabloid (Darwin) NT perthnow.com.au News Ltd. Perth Now online-only news site WA sbs.com.au SBS Special Broadcasting Service, minority public broadcaster all skynews.com.au Sky News Sky News pay-TV news channel all smh.com.au Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald newspaper NSW theage.com.au Fairfax The Age newspaper (Melbourne) Vic. theaustralian.com.au News Ltd. The Australian newspaper all themercury.com.au News Ltd. The Mercury newspaper (Hobart) Tas. watoday.com.au Fairfax WA Today online-only news site (Perth) WA Opinion and Commentary crikey.com.au Independent Crikey political commentary site all independentaustralia.net Independent Independent Australia political commentary site all nationaltimes.com.au Fairfax National Times commentary aggregator for Fairfax sites all newmatilda.com Independent New Matilda political commentary site all onlineopinion.com.au Independent On Line Opinion political commentary site all theconversation.edu.au Independent The Conversation universities-supported commentary site all thepunch.com.au News Ltd. The Punch commentary aggregator for News Ltd. sites all
  • 9. NEWS SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  • 10. NEWS SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  • 11. KEY OBSERVATIONS FOR NEWS SITES • Distribution of attention: – Some fluctuations, but week-to-week leaderboard largely stable – Major, quality national news sources most important (Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News) • Standard weekly activity patterns: – Strong Mondays, decline over the week – Limited activity on weekend days, stronger for newspapers with weekend editions • Significant spikes in activity: – Usually driven by domestic coverage reaching a global audience (Julian Assange, Snoop Dogg/Lion, One Direction) – Generally limited impact of major events on domestic activities: no significant increase during the London Olympics etc.
  • 13. OPINION SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  • 14. OPINION SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  • 15. KEY OBSERVATIONS FOR OPINION SITES • Distribution of attention: – Significant fluctuations in attention share for sites (e.g. SMH marketshare ranging from 21% to 36% of total) – Mixture of mainstream mastheads / independent commentary sites – Minor sites occasionally very prominent – Performance usually centred on a handful of key articles – Poor performance by paywalled content • Standard weekly activity patterns: – Drop-off on weekends, but less pronounced than for news – Occasionally major spikes on weekend days • Significant spikes in activity: – Mixture of international and domestic stories / audiences (Julian Assange, but also Alan Jones)
  • 16. SITE COMPARISONS (WEEK 27: 2-8 JULY) • User activity: – Lead users (most active 1% of users) – Highly active users (next 9%) – Least active users (remaining 90%) – Use of URLs in original tweets, @replies, retweets a) Sydney Morning Herald b) ABC News c) news.com.au
  • 18. CONCLUSIONS • Twitter news sharing in Australia: – Significant level of activity, stable patterns overall – News much more widely shared than opinion – Quality sites preferred: does not match overall news consumption patterns in Australia – Possible indicator of Australian Twitter demographics (25-55, urban, affluent, educated) – Domestic interests may shift, but total volume remains relatively stable – Significant spikes mainly when international audiences share domestically-produced stories
  • 19. OUTLOOK • Open questions: – Sharing  reading: • Do shares result in hits on the sites? • Relative impact of celebrity vs. mass link tweeting? – Dissemination: • How do links travel through the network? • What is the role of official (corporate / staff) accounts? – Domestic / international patterns: • What proportion of the tweet volume is by Australian users? • What international news sites do these users link to? – Long-term patterns: • How does activity change over the course of the year? • Can we trace the impact of industry changes (e.g. paywalls)?
  • 20. FURTHER INFORMATION • ATNIX updates: – Collected on Mapping Online Publics: http://mappingonlinepublics.net/tag/atnix/ – Weekly column at The Conversation: http://theconversation.edu.au/columns/axel-bruns-1433