Social media in the media I: comparing social and traditional media

2 Apr 2013

One of the research projects some of us here at the CCI are currently involved in, in cooperation with researchers from California State University, Uppsala University, and the Universities of Oslo and Bergen, aims to apply a cross-media and cross-national approach to exploring The Impact of Social Media on Agenda-Setting in Election Campaigns. As part of this project we recently trialled a method for analysing how social media are portrayed in traditional media outlets in relation to Australian politics. It is important to build a more nuanced understanding of the way in which new media’s role in public debate and political discussion is perceived and portrayed by and through more established publishing forums like newspapers, in order to identify the relation between the two, and how it may be shaped in the future. In connecting the discussion to the political, we aim to develop a deep understanding of how new media tools are perceived and implicated in the way in which politicians, journalists and the public actively do politics, and engage with one another in the process. Our aim is not to establish a pro or anti new or old media discourse, but to explore some of the intricate practices involved in political campaigning, reporting, and engagement. The upcoming federal election in Australia offers an excellent access point for doing this type of analysis. Our involvement with other research centres and universities around the world provides opportunities for cross-national comparison.

Our initial qualitative study of how new media are portrayed as political tools in traditional media outlets is a starting point for some of this research. In this post I will provide a brief overview of the study and an insight into one of the themes that emerged from our content-analysis, namely how social media and traditional media are compared and contrasted in the publications we explored. Future posts will explore further themes, such as how different user groups are portrayed and how, why and for what purposes they employ new media tools in connection to politics.

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