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How journalists engage in branding on Twitter: individual, organizational, and institutional levels

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In a social media age, branding is an increasingly visible aspect of identity construction online. For media professionals generally and journalists especially, branding on spaces such as Twitter reveals the complicated set of forces confronting such public-facing actors as they navigate tensions between personal disclosure for authenticity and professional decorum for credibility, and between establishing one’s own distinctiveness and promoting one’s employer or other stakeholders. While studies have begun to reveal what journalists say about branding, they have yet to provide a broad profile of what they do. This study takes up that challenge through a content analysis of the Twitter profiles and tweets of a representative sample of 384 U.S. journalists. We focus on the extent of branding practices; the levels at which such branding occurs, whether to promote one’s self (individual), one’s news organization (organizational), or the journalism profession at large (institutional); and how other social media practices may be related to forms of journalistic branding. Results suggest that branding is now widely common among journalists on Twitter; that branding occurs at all three levels but primarily at the individual and organizational levels, with organizational branding taking priority; and that time on Twitter is connected with more personal information being shared.
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Keywords: Branding; brand enactment; identity; journalistic branding; journalistic roles; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Journalism, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA 2: Department of Communication, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA 3: School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA

Publication date: October 3, 2018

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