Social media in the newspaper newsroom : the professional use of Facebook and Twitter at Rapport and The Mail & Guardian

Jordaan, Marenet (2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil) -- Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In a time of uncertainty for newspapers due in part to dwindling circulation, loss of advertising revenue and declining readership, Internet-based technologies have continued to grow. The unprecedented rise of social media, of which Facebook and Twitter are wellknown examples, has not gone unnoticed by the newspaper community. Despite their initial misgivings about the credibility of the information disseminated on these media, mainstream journalists worldwide have gradually started to adopt social media as professional tools. Social media serve as channels that help to funnel information towards journalists. Some newspaper journalists also use these media to broadcast news and promote their personal brands. The continued use of social media on a professional level will arguably have an impact on the daily routines and cultures within a newsroom. Academic research in this area is limited, especially within the South African context. This study explores whether the professional use of social media, with specific reference to Facebook and Twitter, influences the processes and cultures of news selection and presentation at the South Africa newspapers Rapport and the Mail & Guardian. A newsroom study within a social constructionism paradigm employed a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, including self-administered questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and ethnography. The main findings of this study were that the majority of journalists at Rapport and the Mail & Guardian used Facebook and Twitter actively on a professional level – mainly for trend tracking. The newsroom cultures were open and encouraging towards social media use. Journalists were also aware that social media create opportunities for their audiences to challenge the traditional roles of journalists and the realities constructed by the mainstream media. According to the journalists from Rapport and the Mail & Guardian the professional use of social media had not significantly altered their processes of news selection and presentation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Terwyl koerante ’n onsekere tyd beleef, deels weens dalende sirkulasiesyfers, ’n verlies aan advertensie-inkomste en ’n afname in lesertalle, het Internetgebaseerde tegnologieë aanhou groei. Die ongekende groei van sosial media, waarvan Facebook en Twitter welbekende voorbeelde is, het nie ongesiens by die koerantgemeenskap verby gegaan nie. Ondanks hul aanvanklike bedenkinge oor die geloofwaardigheid van inligting wat op dié media versprei word, het hoofstroomjoernaliste wêreldwyd geleidelik begin om sosiale media as professionele hulpmiddels te aanvaar. Sosial media dien as kanale waardeur inligting na joernaliste vloei. Sommige koerantjoernaliste gebruik ook die media om nuus uit te saai en hul persoonlike handelsmerk te bemark. Die volgehoue gebruik van sosial media op ’n professionele vlak sal bes moontlik ’n impak op die daaglikse roetine en kulture binne ’n nuuskantoor hê. Akademiese navorsing op die gebied is beperk, veral binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Hierdie navorsing ondersoek of die professionele gebruik van sosiale media, met spesifieke verwysing na Facebook en Twitter, ’n invloed het op die prosesse en kulture van nuusseleksie en -aanbieding by die Suid-Afrikaanse koerante Rapport en die Mail & Guardian. ’n Nuuskantoorstudie, binne ’n sosiale konstruktivisme paradigma, het ’n kombinasie van kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodologieë ingespan, insluitende: selfgeadministreerde vraelyste, halfgestruktureerde onderhoude en etnografie. Die hoofbevindinge van die studie was dat die meerderheid van die joernaliste by Rapport en die Mail & Guardian Facebook en Twitter aktief op ’n professionele vlak gebruik het – hoofsaaklik om tendense dop te hou. Die nuuskantoorkulture was oop en aanmoedigend teenoor die gebruik van sosiale media. Joernaliste was ook bewus daarvan dat sosiale media geleenthede skep vir hul gehore om die tradisionele rol van joernaliste, sowel as die realiteite wat deur die hoofstroommedia geskep word, te betwis. Volgens die joernaliste van Rapport en die Mail & Guardian het die professionele gebruik van sosiale media nie hul nuusinsamelings- en aanbiedingsprosesse noemenswaardig beïnvloed nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20101
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