HOW HAS THE DEVELOPMENT OF TWITTER IMPACTED THE NEWS? Vivian Bankole
INTRODUCTION & SUB QUESTIONS• 1. Is Twitter more accessible than the news (TV, Website, radio and newspapers)?• 2. How different demographics use Twitter• 3. Why do people use twitter, Personal or business factors?• 4. What kind of news is Twitter used for, do people use different formats for different types of news?• 5. How has twitter changed how we view the news, has Twitter made news more trivial and instant?I broke down my questions into these sub questions because Twitter has definitely had an impact on the news and the ways its broadcasted.What I wanted to find out is whether it has a positive or negative affect on how news is consumed and whether or not specific types of newsare more popular with Twitter… for example whether celebrity news is more talked about than national or international news, s o does Twittertherefore alter the type of news that people are interested in? This is what I wanted to find out.I have carried out a research into how Twitter has affected the media particularly looking at the news and how people receive it. After doingprimary and secondary research I have come to the conclusion that Twitter has influenced the news a great deal. Some may say it was a morepositive effect however others may argue that it is merely used for celebrity news and that it does not sufficiently spread o ther news such aspolitical or regional news.I gathered information from different demographics using four methods of primary research and secondary research also to find out howpeople think Twitter has influenced the news. I also gathered information on what type of demographics use Twitter, why they may or may notuse it and what they use it for.Definition:„Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sendingshort text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers .”’ Source-1140 characters is extremely useful for people who just want to post something quickly or perhaps just post a link leading to aanother website. The 140 character limit helps to keep tweets short and concise which is what makes tweets so digestible for people.
METHODS EXPLAINED -MY QUESTIONNAIREMy Questionnaire consisted of 6 questions. My aim was to keep it as short and concise as possible, so that my question diffe rentdrift away from what I was trying to find out.. There were some things that worked with my questionnaire for example -Demographics:• Age brackets were not to large or too small. I also ensured that people did not fall in a position where they could potential ly be in two age groups e.g. 18-24, 25-34.• As expected I included a gender tick box• I then asked the initial question of whether the individual consumes news. This is important as some people may not even consume the news so it would be pointless them filling out the questionnaire. Even though some very few people don‟t like to consume the news it is still an important part of data as it they would fall into the group of people who do not consume news at all.• I also asked some „why‟ questions which gave people the opportunity to explain why they had chosen what they did, which would help me when trying to explain whether Twitter has had an impact on news.• I distributed my questionnaires in hard copy. I decided that I would give them out to people and get them to fill it out immediately so I could have them back immediately.However there were some issues with my questionnaire for example :• Some of my questions not being worded properly so therefore people answered more questions then they should have, making the questionnaire seem long and tedious. For example „what types of news you listen to?‟• The actual length of the question went on to two pages so some people became reluctant to complete the question towards the end.• Only 30 people completed it.• I perhaps should have posted my questionnaire online as well to have got more responses.When creating my questionnaire I tried to avoid being subjective in my questions or appearing biased. I tried to word the que stionsin such a way that it was allowing the participant to answer freely without being under the influence of being forced to answ er aquestion in a certain way. One of my better worded questions was question 6 „Do you think that twitter is directed at one typ e ofnews for example „celebrity news‟?
MY EXPERIMENTWhen doing my experiment I encountered some issues, for example I only had a certain amount offollowers on twitter (48) so I tried to make the most of it.When starting my experiment I first tweeted information regarding David Cameron and politics, aftertwo minutes I had received my first message within that same minute I received another tweet. Thetweet said reference (2) „OMG why?‟ Very few people showed interest in my tweet and it didn‟tappear to spread very far.A few days later I tweeted some false celebrity news, I said that Beyonce was pregnant again and Ieven added an image to it. Within seconds I had two people respond to my tweet sharing theirthoughts on the issue. This information then became a trending topic among the people involved.This spread faster than the first piece of news I placed on twitter and was clearly more interesting topeople.This method helped me to find an answer to question three, „what type of news is Twitter used for?‟People definitely seemed more interested in the celebrity gossip rather than the news aboutpolitics, as results in other research helped me to conclude this.In order to have made my experiment more solid I perhaps could have gained more „followers‟ andthen re done the experiment to have gained a better response or perhaps I could have done theexperiment more than once so that it would have been more data to analyse.
FOCUS GROUPMy focus group was a more in depth and specific method. My questions were worded so that theparticipants had the opportunity to explain their answers in detail.• At the start of my focus group before I asked any questions I collated the demographics of all thepeople involved. I centred it on teenagers aged 17 and 18 as I mentioned before it was interestingand also useful to hear what different things they had to say. Traditionally 17 to 18 years were notinterested in news and however ever since the birth of twitter more 17 and 18 year olds have shownan interest in news.• My focus group worked relatively well everyone (7 people) participated as much as they could.The only issue I may say I had with my focus group was that it was quite short which made it hardwhen gathering my findings.• I ensured that everyone was involved at all times even for the person who did not have a twitteraccount. I stayed objective and didn‟t say much other than asking the question or asking theparticipant to elaborate on their answer.• I feel that questions were answered well and that people justified their answers to some degree.Other participants answered their questions but did not give much of a reason as to „why‟ whichdidn‟t help me when trying to conclude my answers.
MY INTERVIEWAs my fourth piece of primary research I did an interview with a Twitter user. In order to gain the most from my interview I had to find some who used Twitter for more than one purpose.I asked a woman aged 22 who runs her own company and uses Twitter as a way of promoting and advertising her company. She also uses Twitter for her own personal reasons. I asked questions such as reference (4) „ Do you think Twitter has had a positive or negative effect on the news?‟ and reference (4) „ Do you think Twitter is a useful source of broadcasting news?‟My interview helped me as it added depth to my other primary research methods and helped me in answering and concluding my questions.• One issue I may say I had with my interview was that it was short and perhaps could have been a bit longer to have given me more material to work with.• If I had more time I perhaps would have done another interview with someone who was totally against Twitter to have an opposing side to the question therefore giving me more to work with.After completing all of the primary methods I was able to start working out my findings and lookinghow and whether twitter had impacted the news in a positive or negative way and what type ofpeople consume the news.
IS TWITTER MORE ACCESSIBLE THAN TRADITIONAL SOURCES OF THE NEWS (TV, WEBSITE, RADIO AND NEWSPAPERS)?I linked this question to two of my primary research methods; my Focus group and to my questionnaire. My interview also helpe d me toanswer this question.In order for me to be able to find out whether Twitter is more accessible than other news sources I first had to find out whe ther peopleconsume the news or not. I did that by asking reference (1) „Do you listen to the news?‟. Although in this case more people consume thenews as opposed to those who didn‟t I found from asking peoples age that it was mostly people within the age bracket of 36 -45 and upwho consumed the news. (14 out of the 30 people that completed my questionnaire stated that they were in this age bracket of 36-45)This result did not surprise me as males and females of a younger generation traditionally do not consume the news on such a largescale in comparison to people of an older age bracket.In my focus group I used males and females with demographical age of 17-18 so it was more subjective to one age bracket. I chose toask to males and females of this age bracket because they are known to be heavy Twitter users. I started my focus group by as king thekey question reference (3) „Do you have a Twitter account?‟ 6 out of the 7 people involved answered „yes‟. I then went on to askreference (3) „what do you use your Twitter account for and why?‟ Five of the participants answered „to follow celebrities‟ and find outwhat is the latest bit of „news‟. Most of them then went on to explain that Twitter was more direct and more immediate theref ore moreaccessible for them. Twitter is very much a modern and advanced way of gaining information and news. Many teenagers are likel y toconsume the news through Twitter not only because it is easy to access but also because it is seen as more of a modern thing within theyounger generation. It is almost like teens are following the trend as Twitter is currently the „in‟ thing.In my interview I asked my interviewee reference (4) „do you think Twitter is more accessible than other types of news?‟ of which shereplied „yes‟. She then went on to discuss how „ Twitter is more accessible as you can access it from a computer or a phone o r otherelectrical devices and it is limited down to 140 characters making it more portable thus more accessible‟ This potentially me ans thatpeople can comment or write or tweet whatever it is they want to and keep it short and concise. In the world of today where e verything isso fast pace this is ideal for a person who is perhaps extremely busy and may just want to tweet a piece of news they have ju st found outor look for whatever may be trending at that moment in time. Source 2 highlights Twitter‟s useful access points as it states that “Twitter isaccessible through all types of media‟s and devices such as mobile phones, iPads, and other computer devices. Certain internetproviders such as Firefox have created direct links to twitter for example „Twitterfox‟ will allow you to compose and post a tweet withouteven having to log into your twitter account.” As my interviewee also mentioned that it is Twitters high profile access points that draw youto it.Because I failed to use people of the older generation in focus group it is very much directed at teenagers. So therefore I c annotconclude that Twitter is more accessible over the general population however I can conclude that it is more accessible amongs tteenagers and the younger generation. This is an expected result as I directed my focus group at males and females aged 17 -18, so myfocus group in this sense could be seen as subjective. Had I perhaps asked people of an older aged group I would have had a w iderrange of answers to work with.
IS TWITTER MORE ACCESSIBLE THAN THE NEWS (TV, WEBSITE, RADIO ANDNEWSPAPERS)? CONTINUED…. INFORMATION FROM MY QUESTIONNAIRE AND FOCUSGROUP.
HOW DO DIFFERENT DEMOGRAPHICS USETWITTER?This information was crucial for me in terms of looking at demographics. My two primary research methods, my focus group an d my questionnaire helped me to collate the participants demographics.In my questionnaire the very first question I asked was reference (1) „How old are you?‟. I made sure the age brackets were evenly spread out and that no one person would find themselves ticking two boxes. My next question was reference (1) „Male? Female?‟ . By collating this data it helped me to narrow down which type of people used twitter.In my focus group before I started to ask my questions I first went round and gathered everyone‟s gender and age. Of course m y focus group was more restricted to an age bracket of 17-18 , so in this case it was a matter of picking either or. Out of the 7 people two were male and 5 were females. However only two people were 17, where as five people were 18.Source 8 from my secondary research also makes reference to how different demographics use twitter. It explains how in 2010 reference to secondary research „52% of the users were women and 48% of users were men‟ this clearly shows that women used Twitter more than males. This may be because more women may have had more time then men for example perhaps a woman who is at home whilst her husband goes to work is more likely to find a past time such as Twitter. Or even among teenagers- males are more likely to perhaps be more interested in playing game consoles or out playing football. These result were taken in 2010 so since then this figures are likely to have changed and it may well be that males are more of Twitter users than females. I took these results off a blog site and as blog sites can be writ ten by anyone these figures may not be 100% true. Having said this when I did my focus group there were two males both of which had a Twitter acc ount and 5 girls, of which 4 had a Twitter account. If I had perhaps used an even amount of males and females I perhaps would have been able to back up these statistics with the information gained from my focus group.Knowing that Twitter was more popular among the younger generation I perhaps should have directed my focus group at a differe nt age bracket. In doing so my focus group seems to be bias as I already gathered information from my questionnaire that Twitter was more popula r within the younger generation. People of the older generation are more likely to consume the news purely because of interest rates, wher eas people of the younger generation are not as likely to consume news that is not of interest to them. Demographics is essential to resear ch and for my particular topic age was a major factor. Being that news is a general thing as it reaches out to people of ages my focus poin t was trying to find how people preferred to consume the news. Knowing that teenagers are traditionally not major news consumers I should have t aken this into account when looking for participants to be in focus groups. As Twitter is more common within the younger generation I was aw are I would receive a lot of my responses from the younger generation in my experiment. So I should perhaps have focused my focus group m ore on people in the age bracket of 34-45.
HOW DIFFERENT DEMOGRAPHICS USE TWITTER?CONTINUED…SOURCES FROM MY FOCUS GROUP Demographics: Age 2 people aged 17 5 people aged 18
WHY DO PEOPLE USE TWITTER, PERSONAL OR BUSINESSFACTORS? It was important to look at a number of methods and sources and data gathered for this question as many different people use Twitter for many different things. From my secondary research I found that reference to secondary research Source 3 states that Twitter „is used for not only personal but also business purposes‟. The source then goes on to say that „Twitter is just as useful for personal purposes as it is for business purpose s‟ This source was taken from a blogging site clearly in favour of the use of Twitter which makes me question its reliability. The source tends to be a bit biased as it does NOT look at the disadvantages (if any) of use using twitter for personal and business reasons. Information that is posted on blog sites are questionable as they tend to be one extreme or the other. It is either some in favour of Twitter or some who is against the hole idea of Twit ter. “It also useful for business purposes as it can help companies expand by gaining costumers by encouraging costumers to follow them. It also allows them to keep a watchful eye of their competitors and keep an eye on the market as well. Being that twitter is free of charge many businesses may even now fe el obliged to joining as many people use Twitter, so they are some what branding themselves for free on one of the most used websites in the world. It can almost be seen as imperative for a major business‟ image to join Twitter” The source depicts all the great things that having Twitter for your business can provide but it doesnt highlight any negative points. Thus can be deemed unreliable. During my focus group I asked the participants reference (3) „what for you use your Twitter account for and why?‟ they all answered that it was for personal reasons rather than business. 4 out of 6 of them claimed that they use it mostly to see what celebrities are doing and to rea d all the latest celebrity gossip. Once again I cannot come to much of a conclusion as I directed my focus group at one age bracket, it may well have be en that perhaps people in an older age bracket used it for business reasons only or for both personal and business purposes. My experiment helped me to conclude this answer however as I posted some political information on Twitter which would affect everyone stating that reference „David Cameron is adding VAT to hot food sold in stores‟ after minutes of waiting for some kind of a response the first perso n retweeted my message seconds later another person asked whether reference (2) „does this include Greggs?‟ days later I posted a tweet stating that reference (2) „Beyonce is pregnant AGAIN!‟ within seconds people were messaging and retweeting the comment. This implies that celebrity news was clearl y of more interest than political news, having said this that may be down to the type of people that I am following on Twitter as a lot of the people I am following are teenagers who perhaps would not find this piece of news exciting. This showed me that celebrity news travels faster on Twitter as opposed to political information that may affect us. From the information I gathered people are more likely to use Twitter for more personal reasons. Although they still want to be informed they are very much phased by ce lebrity news. Source 4 “As well as the social and business aspect of Twitter it is also a good tool for international breaking news. Following the link above it was stated that after the violet terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai last year tweets were posted on the site within minutes of the first shots being fired.” Although this source is discussing how international news spreads on Twitter it can also be linked to this question. International news can be seen as „business‟ as it was from tweets and trending topics that news cooperations where made aware of the attacks and it was from there they starte d to be shown on TV and aired through the radio. The two sources documented above tells me that Twitter is used just as much as it is for personal re asons as it is for business reasons. One main reason why it may be so popular for personal and business reasons is because it is immediate, news travels within seconds across the world. This can be useful providing it is used in the right way.
WHAT KIND OF NEWS IS TWITTER USED FOR, DO PEOPLEUSE DIFFERENT FORMATS FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OFNEWS?My questionnaire in particular focused greatly on this question. My experiment also helped to bring this question to a conclusion. My interview also helped me when answering this question.In my questionnaire I asked the question reference (1) „Which of these do you prefer to use as your source of news?‟ I repeated this question four times each time stating the different types of news e.g. TV, radio, Online, Newspapers. I also gave the participant the opportunity to answer why so that I can see why people might prefer different formats of news. 16 out of 30 people stated that they liked to use Twitter as their source of news for „TV & Showbiz‟, whilst 13 out of people stated that they liked to use TV for watching international and national news. This was perhaps one of the more well thought out questions in terms that people could answer what type of news they used for what and I seem to have received a fair response. Many of the people who chose Twitter as their preferred format stated that they preferred it because as opposed to Newspapers it was free and TVs because its not immediate.My experiment on Twitter showed me that people are inclined to respond to a tweet about a celebrity or gossip. I can tell th is from the response I received when I posted information about Beyonce being pregnant again. This told me that majority of people use Twitter for celebrity news, this however does not go to say that these people do not use other formats of news for different types of news.In my interview I asked the interviewee reference (4) „ Do you think twitter is used for more for celebrity news?‟ She replied „Twitter is a useful tool for news, and it is more centred around what type of people and companies you are centred around. So if you only have celebrities and magazine companies surrounding you are likely to only be exposed to celebrity news. Whereas if you had big news cooperation‟s and newspapers following you are more likely to be exposed to other types of news.‟ This suggests to me that on Twitter it is a situation where „ you are the company you keep‟ and that if you associate yourself with the people that post news about celebrities you are narrowing yourself to one type of news however if you follow bigger news cooperations such as the BBS, ITV,CNN etc you are not narrowing yourself to celebrity news but you are broadening the type of news that appears on your timeline.
WHAT KIND OF NEWS IS TWITTER USED FOR, DO PEOPLE USEDIFFERENT FORMATS FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF NEWS? CONTINUED…SOURCE FROM MY QUESTIONNAIRE
HOW HAS TWITTER CHANGED HOW WE VIEW THE NEWS, HAS TWITTER MADE NEWS MORE TRIVIAL AND INSTANT?My focus group questions helped me to focus on this question as it was more a matter of opinion and what people thought. It helped to hear peoples opinions and thoughts.Reference (3) „Do you think you think Twitter is a reliable source for news?‟ Everyone gave me the same response stating that it depended on who posted the information. They then went on to explain that it would have to be a company or the person themselves posting the news. One of them went on to say that they found that Twitter wasnt so reliable as people just retweeted what they saw without actually finding out whether the information was true. For example in my experiment when people retweeted that Beyonce was pregnant without actually finding out whether it was true or not. This participant also went on to explain that it wasn‟t such a good thing that news was so instant as people knew about news before they knew whether it was true or not. This statement tells me that twitter has changed how news is viewed and in his opinion it wasn‟t a positi ve change. Source 1 “A person who has remained anonymous said that „Twitter is a catastrophic mess as it was enabling these youths to arrange meeting times and places for them to wreck the beautiful city that we live in. They arrange where to meet and within minutes everyone knows where to go. Surely something can be done to stop these people from encouraging the riots through twitter” This person is in no doubt against the way that Twitter works and its ability to pass information on so quickly. In this particular case Twitter was being used in a negative way, and the „instant‟ factor that to some is so amazing, to others is „catastrophic mess‟.Question 6 on my questionnaire helped me to answer the second part of this question as the question says reference (1) „Do you think that specific socials media such as Twitter are directed at specific types of news?‟ unfortunately I only received 12 response as many people thought my questionnaire was too long so they didn‟t all answer the last question. From the 12 responses that I received 3 out of 12 of my responses stated that Twitter is more focused on celebrity news making other news seem less important and less talked about. These comments suggest that Twitter has made OTHER news that isn‟t celebrity related seem trivial as it is very much centred around celebrity news and information.Source 4 from my secondary research has states how news from a different country travelled around the world within minutes. The source also highlights how Twitter has over 6 million users and that Twitter can therefore potentially act as a forum for peo ple where they can discuss and share news. The source leans more to positive side of Twitters „instant‟ factor, as within the fir st few minutes of shots being fired it had already been posted on Twitter and had become a trending topic.
HOW HAS TWITTER CHANGED HOW WE VIEW THE NEWS, HAS TWITTER MADE NEWS MORE TRIVIAL AND INSTANT? CONTINUED…. SOURCE S FROM SECONDARY RESEARCH: SOURCE 10Source 10 Above are two diagrams that were taken from the Ross Dawson blog. The first image shows how news was broadcasted before the birth of Twitter.Along the bottom there also times of how long it took to broadcast news.The second image illustrates how the arrival of twitter has affected the time in which it takes to transport news around the world. As you can see from the imageit takes less than 30 minutes for news to travel around the world on Twitter. You can see from these images that Twitter has had a positive effect how fast newsis spread around the world and has made it more instant but does this make other methods of broadcasting news seem more trivial? Being that Twitter is veryimmediate in terms of spreading news other forms of news such as TV, Radio, Newspapers and Online can appear trivial. The image above shows that it wouldtake at least 2 hours for any type of news to go Online followed by a Radio broadcast at 3 hours, TV at just over 3 hours and lastly Newspapers at 8 hours. As Imentioned before we are living in a world where everything is done at a fast pace and when people want to find out information they want to do so as soon aspossible and therefore will go to where they can get it first. For many people that is Twitter. Having said this after the arrival of Twitter, TV, Radio, Online, andthe press have improved there delivery times as illustrated in the second image. This tells me that the birth of Twitter may have raised the stakes in terms ofdelivery times.
CONCLUSIONConcluding all my findings....From all my research and findings I have come to the conclusion that Twitter is clearly more accessible than any other form o f news. I can say this because Twitter can be accessed from anywhere in the world. People can access Twitter through various electrical devices. Twitter is limited to 140 characters ,making portable and digestible. Therefore making it more accessibl e.Being that we are in a world of technology twitter is clearly the modern way spreading news. However this does go to say that twitter is only used for celebrity news, as my interviewee states reference (4) „it depends on the type of people you have surrounding you‟ it may well be that the people who I asked had celebrities and magazine companies following them thus they were surrounded my one type of news. A way to perhaps avoid this is to have a good balance of celebrity and international/national news.Demographics certainly had an affect on what type of people used Twitter. I found that not many people over the age of 46+ us ed twitter that it was more a thing of the younger generation. Being that twitter is a modern thing it is most likely to be comm on around people aged between 18 and 46. Twitter has not necessarily made any particular news seem trivial but as Twitter is international, it can perhaps make a bit of news seem less significant than other news as a specific topic may be trending faster or more than other topics, however Twitter does not intentionally make a piece of news seem unimportant.I also found that depending on who is using the Twitter account Twitter can be used for personal or business reasons. As comp any such as the BBC and ITV have Twitter accounts just like regular people and it just depends on your intended purpose. For example my interviewee who runs a major part of her business on there but still uses Twitter for personal references.Judging from my findings people seem to be leaning more towards the positive effects of Twitter, it may seem that although a large part of Twitter is celebrity and gossip based, Twitter still has its positive impacts on the news, for example being able to share news within minutes of the event happening. This is an extremely useful tool as in our world today being that everything is s o modern and instant people want to consume their news as quickly and as fast as possible. What a better place to do this than on Twitter?The development of Twitter has impacted the news in a positive way as it has made news more instant, and more accessible and more easier to digest among the younger generation and perhaps in the near future among the older generation too.
BIBLIOGRAPHY/ WEBOGRAPHY• Source 1- author unknown 2012, twitter explained, online, available from http://tweeternet.com/ accessed on 23.04.12• Source 2- author unknown 2012, twitter explained, online available from http://tweeternet.com/#explained accessed on 17.05.12• Source 8- Aden Hepburn 2010, digital buzz blog, online, available from http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-facebook- vs-twitter-demographics-2010-2011/ accessed on the 17.05.12• Source 3- author unknown 2012, twitter explained, online, available from http://tweeternet.com/#usefulness accessed on 17.05.12• Source 4- Claudine Beaumount 2008, the telegraph, online, available from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/3530640/Mumbai-attacks-Twitter-and-Flickr-used-to-break-news-Bombay- India.html accessed on 17.05.12• Source 1- author unknown, twitter explained, online available from http://tweeternet.com/ accessed 17.05.12• Source 10- Ross Dawson, trends in the living networks, online available from http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2009/08/twitters_impact.html accessed 17.05.12• Bar charts, pie charts taken from my primary research.• Reference (1) Questionnaire (2) Experiment (3) Focus group (4) Interview