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From Social Media with News: Journalists’ Social Media Use for Sourcing and Verification

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Social media is widely used by journalists for sourcing and verification. While social media may either serve as supplementary to existing sources or replace traditional channels, it nevertheless poses challenges to the news professionalism. The present study examines the relationship between journalists’ use of social media and other channels for news sourcing and verification. It also examines how attitudes towards social media affect the use of social media for sourcing and verification. An online survey of journalists (n = 255) in local news organizations in Hong Kong—a society with a high social media penetration rate and a highly competitive media market—revealed that journalists rely on offline, elite, and ready-made sources (such as information released by public relations companies or governmental officials). Social media both replaces and complements existing channels for sourcing and verification. The perception that social media is a credible source for information was positively related to using social media for news production. The present paper is a modest first study to examine how social media is included in news production in a non-Western context. It offers a better understanding of how emerging technologies change the information repertoire during news production in a post-truth era.

Keywords: Hong Kong; Social media; attitudes towards social media; information verification; news content production; news sourcing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Journalism, School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

Publication date: November 25, 2020

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