Posted by: jstrieder | November 19, 2014

There May Be Less News on Twitter Than You Think

“Reciprocal journalism” is a hot buzzword these days, as exemplified by this white paper. It directs journalists’ attention to interacting with readers on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, stating that social media can disseminate news and build followings efficiently in the Age of the Smartphone.

Of course, all revenues garnered on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook go to, respectively, Twitter and Facebook. The authors of the white paper admit as much: “Nor may it be possible for every news organization to mediate indirect and sustained reciprocity around hashtags or Facebook groups, as we have described. Simply put, there are transaction costs associated with engaging audiences … “(11)

Perhaps because of that, social media is generally used to promote, not inform. On Twitter, for example, most top-trending subjects worldwide are commercial promotions or celebrity gossip. I captured this screenshot just a minute ago:

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 1.05.11 AM

#Rampal is an embattled sect leader in India. He’s news … but an overwhelming number of the relevant tweets were reactionary, conversational and didn’t tell me his story.

#pplsforum refers to a televised debate between candidates for Premier in Australia. That’s related to news, but it’s really just a promotion for civic engagement. I had to do a Google search to even determine what office was at stake.

The rest – all gossip and entertainment. In fact, most are sponsored promotions: Pizza Hut, the movie “Mockingjay Part 1,” People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, a talk show on Comedy Central (thus, CatVideoGames).


  1. World Toilet Day says it all. Many supposed news items are in fact “click bait”, and unfortunately for those of us who wouldn’t claim to have an unusually strong interest in toilets, or in international celebrations surrounding them, when we click we vote. And we reinforce. Is my simple curiosity in World Toilet Day a form a valuable engagement and reciprocity between me, a consumer of “news”, and the source who picked up this story? I don’t think so.

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