The Twitter Group’s Final Project Summary

Blog Title: Twitter Journalism: An Examination of News Organizations’ Tweet Styles

Twitter Journalism – The Next Big Thing

By: Neha, Emily & Lauren

Enter Twitter journalism – A new era of reporting has arrived. Within just a decade, the news industry has witnesses a radical transition from traditional journalism (newspapers, radio and television broadcasts), to web journalism (online newspapers and web newscasts) to Twitter journalism. While Twitter presents certain challenges, especially with its 140 character restriction, this social media application represents a significant, innovative mode of mass communication and news dissemination.

Purpose of our Study

To investigate how news organizations use Twitter to communicate about daily news events and engage in conversations with readers.

RQ 1: Which public relations model is most often used by news outlets on Twitter?

RQ 2: Do differences exist between newspapers and televisions in how they use Twitter?

RQ 3: Do differences exist between the media outlet Twitter usage in small, medium, and large markets?

Methods of our Study

We employed a Content Analysis method to compare content, style and frequency of tweets between newspapers and TV stations as well as across local, regional and national media markets.

– Analyzed Twitter pages of 36 News Organizations (18 newspapers &18 TV stations)

– 12 News Organizations each from National, Regional and Local markets

– Collected data over one week – 29th March to 2nd April 2010

– Looked at every 5th tweet

– Using a basis frequency analysis and chi-square statistical test, we tested for the 4-models of PR, along with other informative specifications of the users

Grunig’s (1992) 4 models of PR

(1) Press Agentry –

  1. One-way communication
  2. Associated with storytelling
  3. Truth is NOT important

(2) Public Information –

  1. One-way communication
  2. Dissemination of truthful information
  3. Truth is VERY important

(3) Two-way asymmetrical –

  1. Two-way/unbalanced communication
  2. Use research to invoke behavior from audience

(4) Two-way symmetrical

  1. Two-way balanced communication
  2. Attempt to establish a mutual understanding
  3. Importance of relationship building

(5) We also looked at Excellence Theory:

  1. Balances goals of org with stakeholder expectations
  2. Settles conflicting expectations between groups
  3. Develop long-term relationships with key publics (through research)

Findings and Implications

RQ1: Basis Frequency Analysis to determine which public relations model most often used

Press agentry:

Exciting words: 35 Tweets

Public Information:

Information from outside source: 93 Tweets

Information from organization: 441 Tweets (133 Tweets from News Release)

Two-way Asymmetrical

Ask to become involved in organization: 34 Tweets (12 Tweets ask for participation in poll/survey)

Two-way Symmetrical

Mentioning someone in their tweet: 36 Tweets

Attempt to carry on conversation: 14 Tweets

What does this mean?

News organizations employ the public information model most frequently with the two-way symmetrical model least. The public information model, which advocates information dissemination and top-down communication, has been traditionally been associated with print and TV news organizations and it thus comes as no surprise that this trend has persisted with emerging media like Twitter.

News organizations need to make greater efforts to provide opportunities for meaningful reader involvement and genuine dialogue, while practicing active listening and promptly responding to reader comments. Ultimately, news organizations that engage readers are more likely to earn their trust and respect, and in turn build the organization’s readership and following on Twitter.

RQ2: Chi-square test comparing how TV & newspapers differ in Twitter use

Press agentry:

Exciting words: x²= 8.89, df = 1, p = .003

Public Information:

Upcoming Dates: (x² = 4.01, df = 1, p = .03)

Information from the organization: (x²=3.04, df = 1, p = .05

Two-way Asymmetrical

Refers to research conducted by the organization:  x² = 2.43, df = 1 p = .09 (leans toward significance)

Two-way Symmetrical

Mentioning someone in their tweet:  x² = 2.23, df = 1, p = .09

Top 4 reasons TV & Newspapers send out tweets:

(1) Publicize

(2) Sharing others’ information (other stories, etc.)

(3) Ask for event participation

(4) Respond to someone’s tweet

Here are some other findings which provide us with some interesting information:

tweet link to an organizational site (x = 2.68, df = 2, p = .065);

includes a retweet (x = 3.26, df = 2, p = .056); and

included a hashtag (x= 2.45, df = 2, p = .084).

What does this mean?

They have differing numbers, but they follow the same trends (ie with use of hashtags, mentioning other people, retweets, mostly using twitter to publicize, share others info., etc.)

They are both currently using it primarily for the public information one-way communication style – In other words, they are not using the new media to develop relationships – yet.

RQ3: Chi-square test comparing how often TV/newspaper of varying market size use Twitter.

Media outlets were divided into three market sizes:

  • Small – Local Media Outlet
  • Medium – Regional Media Outlet
  • Large – National Media Outlet

Press Agentry:

Exciting words = χ2 = 20.72, df = 2, p = .000

Emoticons = χ2 = 5.13, df = 2, p = .07 (leaning toward statistical significance)

Emotions = χ2 = 8.87, df = 2, p = .01

Public Information:

Outside source info = χ2 = 83.52, df = 2, p = .000

Upcoming dates = χ2 = 15.33, df = 2, p = .000

Two-Way Asymmetrical:

Research = χ2 = 11.85, df = 2, p = .003

involved = χ2 = 5.03, df = 2, p = .08 (leaning toward statistical significance)

Two-Way Symmetrical:

Mention = χ2 = 5.20, df = 2, p = .07 (leaning toward statistical significance)

What does this mean?

Market size makes a difference in how television and newspaper media outlets utilize Twitter to reach out to target audiences.  Smaller/local markets have fewer resources (finances, personnel, etc.) than medium/regional or large/national markets.  This means that small media outlets often use information from other sources and often do not Tweet as much as other outlets.  TV and newspaper outlets in large/national markets have the most resources and therefore utilize Twitter much more often than outlets in other markets.  These TV stations and newspapers are also more likely to produce their own content and not rely on information from outside sources.

TV and newspaper outlets from different size markets have also been found to cover different geographical areas.  Small markets are more likely to Tweet about local events, while medium and large markets are more likely to Tweet about national events.  Large markets generally do not cover local news in their Tweets, as a large national audience is not likely to care about what is happening in a small town.

A Final Word

As the world moves towards embracing Twitter as a tool for news retrieval and dissemination, media entities must make active efforts to enhance their communication and engage readers in two-way symmetrical dialogue. Assessing the tweet styles of diverse news organizations will further our understanding of how to effectively utilize social media as a tool to inform, educate, engage and converse with readers.


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