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



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

  1. 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 @ @snurb_dot_info | @timhighfield | @_StephenH
  2. 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. 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. 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 (, smh, as keywords – Returns all tweets containing these domain names – Including tweets where URLs have been shortened (e.g.   – Enables tracking of all tweets which refer to specific sites
  6. 6. ATNIX: AUSTRALIAN TWITTER NEWS INDEX • Basic principles: – ATNIX tracks 29 leading news and opinion sites – Further filtering for,,, by URL paths (broadcaster sites with extensive non-news content); (general site + West Australian) – Links to opinion sections extracted by URL paths if possible – Tweets by staff and corporate accounts are retained (key sources of retweets) – Aggregation into daily and weekly volume • Parallels? – Newspaper circulation: total number of sharing ‘readers’ – Television ratings: comparisons of Twitter ‘marketshare’ – But: URL tweets ≠ click-throughs / site hits / reads  ATNIX measures active audience engagement with content (link sharing, regardless of whether articles have been read)
  7. 7. Domain Operator Notes State News sites ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation, major public broadcaster all News Ltd. Adelaide Advertiser newspaper SA Fairfax Australian Financial Review newspaper, special interest all Yahoo!7 Seven Network (TV) / Yahoo! joint venture, all / includes The West Australian newspaper (Perth) WA Fairfax Brisbane Times online-only newspaper Qld. Fairfax Canberra Times newspaper ACT News Ltd. Courier-Mail newspaper (Brisbane) Qld. News Ltd. Daily Telegraph tabloid (Sydney) NSW News Ltd. Herald Sun tabloid (Melbourne) Vic. News Ltd. online-only news site all ninemsn Nine Network (TV) / Microsoft Network joint venture all Independent National Indigenous Times, special interest all News Ltd. Northern Territory News tabloid (Darwin) NT News Ltd. Perth Now online-only news site WA SBS Special Broadcasting Service, minority public broadcaster all Sky News Sky News pay-TV news channel all Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald newspaper NSW Fairfax The Age newspaper (Melbourne) Vic. News Ltd. The Australian newspaper all News Ltd. The Mercury newspaper (Hobart) Tas. Fairfax WA Today online-only news site (Perth) WA Opinion and Commentary Independent Crikey political commentary site all Independent Independent Australia political commentary site all Fairfax National Times commentary aggregator for Fairfax sites all Independent New Matilda political commentary site all Independent On Line Opinion political commentary site all Independent The Conversation universities-supported commentary site all News Ltd. The Punch commentary aggregator for News Ltd. sites all
  8. 8. (total volume: 2.2m tweets)
  9. 9. NEWS SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  10. 10. NEWS SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  11. 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.
  12. 12. (total volume: 300k tweets)
  13. 13. OPINION SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  14. 14. OPINION SITES, WEEK 25-40/2012
  15. 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. 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)
  18. 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. 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. 20. FURTHER INFORMATION • ATNIX updates: – Collected on Mapping Online Publics: – Weekly column at The Conversation:
  21. 21. @snurb_dot_info @jeanburgess @_StephenH @DrTNitins @timhighfield @cdtavijit