At the Future of Journalism conference in Cardiff, one of the papers lookedat how are news media in the US adopting Twitter to communicate the news and engage with readers.
Marcus Messner presented the paper, co-authored with Asriel Eford. They looked at almost 200 newspapers and TV stations with Twitter accounts, analysing the number of tweets, the news value and the use of links
The study found that only a third of news outlets offered users the facility to share a link on Twitter. This compared to 100% who offered “email this story and 80% to share on Facebook.
They found no different in the adoption of Twitter between newspapers and TV stations, with both around 90%.
In terms of reach, four outlets such as CNN and the New York Times accounted for more than 10,000 followers each, whereas a fourth had fewer than 500 followers.
Despite 180 news outlets with accounts, only two-thirds tweeted on over the period analysed, with an average of 8.7 tweets per outlet.
Most tweets were news related and only just over 5% were personal. Messner said most of the tweets were pitching the news content of the organisation. Overwhelming, news outlets provided links to their own material, rather than to external sources.
The study concluded that the news media in the US use Twitter as a promotional tool, with extensive linking to their own news content, with newspapers much more active than TV stations.
Messner said more attention needs to be paid to community building, to go beyond shovelware as happened in the early days of online journalism.