Exploring the ideological nature of journalists' social networks on Twitter and associations with news story content

author: John Wihbey, College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD), Northeastern University
published: Dec. 1, 2017,   recorded: August 2017,   views: 667

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The present work proposes the use of social media as a tool for better understanding the relationship between a journalists’ social network and the content they produce. Specifically, we ask: what is the relationship between the ideological leaning of a journalist’s social network on Twitter and the news content he or she produces? Using a novel dataset linking over 500,000 news articles produced by 1,000 journalists at 25 different news outlets, we show a modest correlation between the ideologies of who a journalist follows on Twitter and the content he or she produces. This research can provide the basis for greater self-reflection among media members about how they source their stories and how their own practice may be colored by their online networks. For researchers, the findings furnish a novel and important step in better understanding the construction of media stories and the mechanics of how ideology can play a role in shaping public information.

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