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Journal article

Political journalists and their social media audiences: new power relations

Journalists Political reporting Journalism Social media Australia Germany


Social media use is now commonplace across journalism, in spite of lingering unease about the impact the networked, real-time logic of leading social media platforms may have on the quality of journalistic coverage. As a result, distinct journalistic voices are forced to compete more directly with experts, commentators, sources, and other stakeholders within the same space. Such shifting power relations may be observed also in the interactions between political journalists and their audiences on major social media platforms. This article therefore pursues a cross-national comparison of interactions between political journalists and their audiences on Twitter in Germany and Australia, documenting how the differences in the status of Twitter in each country’s media environment manifest in activities and network interactions. In each country, we observed Twitter interactions around the national parliamentary press corps (the Bundespressekonferenz and the Federal Press Gallery), gathering all public tweets by and directed at the journalists’ accounts during 2017. We examine overall activity and engagement patterns and highlight significant differences between the two national groups; and we conduct further network analysis to examine the prevalent connections and engagement between press corps journalists themselves, and between journalists, their audiences, and other interlocutors on Twitter. New structures of information flows, of influence, and thus ultimately of power relations become evident in this analysis.

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