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The manifest and latent functions of Twitter use by journalists: An observational study among economic journalists

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This study focuses on Twitter use among economic journalists working for print media in Belgium. By looking into their tweeting and following behaviour, the article examines how economic journalists use Twitter for promotional, conversational and sourcing purposes. Based on an automated content analysis of what they tweet and a social network analysis of whom they follow, the results show that economic journalists mainly use Twitter to promote themselves and their news organization rather than to engage in public conversation on the platform. In addition, the study looks into their following behaviour to investigate which actors they consider as 'potential sources'. Here, the findings are consistent with previous studies among political and health journalists, indicating that journalists are more likely to follow institutionally affiliated rather than non-affiliated sources on Twitter. Furthermore, the social network analysis gives additional evidence of the media-centered of journalists' Twitter use, as media-affiliated actors maintain a dominant position in the economic journalists' Twitter networks.
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Keywords: Twitter use; branding; economic journalists; sourcing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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