Anger drives news sharing

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I was interviewed in today’s issue of Dagens Næringsliv regarding news sharing on Facebook – in short, if the news makes us angry, we share them to higher extents. Read the whole thing here (pdf) – in norwegian.

Teacher exchange in Urbino

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I’ve spent the last couple of days at the university of Urbino, hosted by Fabio Giglietto as part of an ERASMUS teacher exchange between Westerdals Oslo ACT and the department of communication studies at the aforementioned university. Urbino proved to be a lovely little town – about 15 000 inhabitants live there, to which one has to add about the same amount of students, who mostly commute from out of town. While in Urbino, I held a few lectures and seminars on the undergraduate as well as graduate level, discussing (among other things) the consequences of personalized content on the Instagram pages of political leaders. Please refer to the picture of me in action available above (thanks to Giovanni Boccia Artieri, who tweeted the picture).

 

ECREA 2016

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Just got back from Prague and the 2016 European Communication Conference, arranged by ECREA (yes, that’s me presenting in the picture above. Thanks to Carlota M. Moragas for providing the picture). Besides participating as commentator in the Journalism Studies Division PhD Student pre-conference workshop, I kept busy with a series of presentations – abstracts available below:

Learning by Failing – Editorial Expectations to Social Media Use Among Journalists
(co-authored with Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk)

News media organisations are increasingly dependent on social media intermediaries like Facebook and Twitter to distribute content and to facilitate the public debate (Canter 2013, Hille and Bakker 2013). Likewise, social media have become important professional tools for journalists in their everyday work practices (Hedman 2014, Hermida et al. 2012). While there are obvious advantages for news organizations and for journalists to utilize social media platforms, dilemmas related to these uses are also found. Of particular relevance to this paper is how the use of social media potentially blurs the line between the professional and the private roles of journalists (Rogstad 2014). The paper at hand investigates social media use among journalists from an editorial point of view. Research has documented how different journalists use social media for a number of work-related practices (Hedman and Djerf- Pierre 2013, Hille and Bakker 2013). However, there has been less focus on this topic from an editorial perspective. Such a focus is useful to gain insights into “the contextual complexity” (Fenton 2010, p.3) surrounding the use of new technology in the field of journalism and the production of news. The study is guided by the following research questions: How are the expectations for social media use among journalist expressed in news media organisations? And how is the potential blurring between the professional and private role discussed and managed? The study builds on a mixed-method approach. First, qualitative elite interviews with thirteen chief editors in leading national and regional media organizations have been carried out. Second, a representative survey directed to members of The Norwegian Journalist Association (NJ), were conducted. The questionnaire was sent out to all 7446 registered journalists and received a response rate of 21.7 % (N= 1613). Our study shows that the expectations to social media use differ both in form and content. In the survey, the journalists were asked if they had guidelines for social media use in their company. 30 % (N=479) of the journalists answered no, 48 % (N =740) confirmed they did, while 21 % (N=332) were not sure. Among those who had guidelines, 68 % (N=501) reported that they included advice on what they should or should not say as a journalist, while 53 % (N=386) had guidance about what they should say privately. Furthermore, 49 % (N=361) of the journalists report that the guidelines included information on how to share content, 37 % (N=271) on how to follow up their own stories in social media, and 35 % (N=260) on how to engage in dialogue with the audiences. In the qualitative interviews the the general impression is that guidelines often are developed on an ad hoc basis due to the dynamic nature of social media. Asked to reflect upon on the blurring of the professional and the private roles on social media, many chief editors stressed that journalists should be visible, but also cautious on social media. The authors discuss how this delicate balance often is addressed as problems occur, pointing to a “learning by failing”-approach.

Assessing Social Media Strategies – Comparing Twitter and Instagram Use During the 2015 Norwegian Elections

While the degree to which social media are actually contributing to electoral success can be called into question, online platforms such as Twitter are nevertheless seen as integral parts of contemporary election campaigns. Plenty of attention has been devoted to Twitter in particular, leading to what must be considered as a dearth of research looking into the uses of other social media services. The paper at hand seeks to remedy this apparent research gap by presenting a study comparing Twitter – with a more recent contender, the image-sharing service Instagram. The specific empirical setting for studying the uses of these two services is the 2015 Norwegian municipal and regional elections. Norway, often understood as one of the Nordic welfare states features a party-centered political system and advanced levels of Internet use – at the hands of citizens as well as government officials. As such, the Norwegian context appears as a suitable one in which to analyze recent developments regarding the platforms under scrutiny. While the two platforms under scrutiny certainly differ in many aspects, they nevertheless share a number of commonalities. For example, the use of hashtags, keywords employed by users to thematically ‘tag’ their posted content as relevant for a specific event, occurrence or topic, is common on both Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags dealing with the election at hand were utilized for data collection. Our focus was placed on the ‘short campaign’ – the final month of campaigning leading up to election day, which took place on September 14th, 2015. Data collection was initiated on August 14th and was terminated two days after Election Day in order to catch the electoral aftermath. Initial results indicate that while Twitter emerged as having a reactive relationship to specific events taking place in established media, such an association with established media was not found for Instagram. As such, Twitter use continues its clear association to political debates and the likes, while political Instagram use appears to go in another direction. As for what types of political actors that succeeded in gaining attention on each platform, differing tendencies were found for Twitter and Instagram respectively. While previous scholarship had suggested that Twitter use would be characterized by normalizing tendencies, with comparably larger actors dominating the discourse, the results contrarily show the platform to be characterized by activity undertaken by or related to comparably small political actors. Conversely, the suggestion from previous research that a comparably new service like Instagram would be characterized by equalizing tendencies – with a high presence of smaller political actors – proved to be erroneous. Much like for the relation of social media use in relation to established media discussed above, Instagram thus appears to be developing differently from Twitter.

Comparing (Inbetween) Campaigns –Swedish Political Parties on Facebook 2010–2014

So-called social media in particular are often discussed in terms of potentially invigorating modern democracies through novel means of outreach for political parties. Adopting conceptual notions of permanent campaigning, suggesting intensive efforts by such actors also outside of election seasons, the current paper presents an overarching study of Facebook use by Swedish political parties during and inbetween two elections – 2010 and 2014. Our specific interests are geared towards distinguishing between the activities undertaken by established and less established parties, where the latter group have often been pointed to as having especially valid reasons to partake online in this regard. The study also takes the types of feedback received into account, differentiating between so-called likes, shares and comments. The main findings indicate that while less established actors show tendencies towards a more permanent employment of Facebook, their established competitors are generally more successful in gaining leverage on the platform.

Moreover, together with most of my fellow editors for the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, Routledge hosted a book launch with champagne and all. Proof (picture by Routledge Media and Culture) is available below. Also, note the supreme photo bombing skills of the guy coming in from the right-hand side. Does anyone know who this guy is?

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All in all, ECREA was a productive conference, and I look forward to the 2018 Lugano meeting.

AoIR 2016

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Just got back from Berlin, where the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research hosted this years annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers – AoIR 2016. This year saw me presenting a paper that must be considered a bit off the common track for yours truly. Specifically, I have collaborated with Hilde van den Bulck of Antwerpen University on a project detaling initial reactions to the death of David Bowie on Twitter. An interesting topic, if I may say so myself – especially for a casual Bowie fan such as myself.

Business and Pleasure

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I’m in Edinburgh to catch a show with a truly unique band – Magma. If you care about music, you need to give this a listen. Tomorrow, its off to Oxford and the 2016 Internet, Politics, and Policy (IPP) conference, where I will present a study on the use of Twitter and Instagram during the 2015 Norwegian elections.

A return to Journalism research - sort of

Recent publications - may 2016

I’m happy to report that recent months have seen the acceptance of a few research papers that I’ve been involved with. All of them are geared towards detailing various aspects of journalist use of the Internet and social media – a theme I’m glad to return to after a couple of years mainly focusing on online political communication. With the bulk of these publications, my goal has been to move beyond the focus on Twitter that has been rather common in a lot of recent work on online journalism. As such, the two solo-authored papers presented here deal with data gathered from Facebook, while the paper co-authored with Christensen offers a comparative perspective, employing mixed methods as well as data gathered from both mentioned services. Finally, the paper co-authored with Ihlebæk presents the results of a survey looking into the broader aspects of social media practices by Norwegian journalists. Below, you will find the abstracts for these papers, as well as links to online resources where you can find out more.

In it for the long run? Swedish newspapers and their audiences on Facebook 2010–2014
Accepted for publication in Journalism Practice
Pre-print version available at academia.edu or ResearchGate

While previous research has focused on the uses of a variety of online services—such as Web pages and, more recently, Twitter—by media organizations and their audiences, a rather limited amount of empirical inquiry has been directed towards the often more and broadly used Facebook platform. The current paper contributes to the research field by providing a longitudinal study of journalist and audience engagement on the Facebook pages of Sweden’s four major newspapers—Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Expressen and Svenska Dagbladet. Employing state-of-the-art methods for data collection, the results indicate that while audiences appear to be increasing their engagement with news organizations on Facebook—albeit mostly through so-called “likes”—the media organizations themselves are decreasing their engagement with audiences.

“I Shared the News Today, Oh Boy” – News provision and interaction on Facebook
Accepted for publication in Journalism Studies
Pre-print version available at academia.edu or ResearchGate.

Swedish newspapers have hosted Web pages since the mid-1990s, and are often pointed to as some of the most popular online locations in the Swedish-speaking online sphere. These organizations have also taken to social media, maintaining presences on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The current study is focused on the latter of the two. It features a twofold aim, detailing the types of content provided by the four largest Swedish newspapers on their Facebook pages, and the types and levels of interaction this content is met with by their page visitors. For tabloid newspapers in particular, the types of news most provided (human interest-type stories) are not matched by the types of news most interacted with by the audience members. Possible reasons for and implications of this apparent imbalance are discussed.

From showroom to chat room – SVT on social media during the 2014 Swedish elections.
Accepted for publication in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Co-Authored with Christian Christensen
Pre-print version available at academia.edu or ResearchGate.

Whilst social media like Twitter and Facebook carry with them the potential for the practice of journalism, novelties like these are also associated with adaptation difficulties – perhaps especially when it comes to the interactive capabilities that services like these afford. This study employs a multi-method approach to study the different uses of Twitter and Facebook by one media company – the Swedish public service broadcaster (PSB) Sveriges Television – during the 2014 election year. Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data, we find that Twitter was used more extensively and in a comparably more interactive fashion than Facebook. Hence we suggest Twitter, used more for interaction, functions as a ‘chat room’; whilst Facebook, used more for broadcasting messages, can be viewed as functioning like a ‘showroom’. As Twitter is often associated with societal elites in the Swedish context, it raises a question about the suitability for a PSB to engage to such a degree on this particular platform.

BEYOND “J-TWEETERS” – Assessing the social media use of Norwegian journalists across multiple platforms
Accepted for publication in Journalism Practice
Co-authored with Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk
Pre-print version available at academia.edu or ResearchGate

Based on a survey (N=1 613) directed to members of The Norwegian Journalist Association (NJ), this paper presents an extensive overview of the ways in which comparably older and newer online platforms have been incorporated into the professional lives of Norwegian journalists. While plenty of research is available that explores the uses of Twitter by journalists, the results presented here suggest that Facebook is by far the most frequently used platform throughout the journalistic process – from collecting information, distributing content and engaging with readers. Statistical analyses provide further insights into which variables appear to influence certain modes of usage across the studied platforms. Based on the results, the argument is made that the advantages of using Facebook as a platform for journalistic practices are obvious due to its popularity among the general public, but that this utilization of one platform over others also could be problematic. As Facebook continues to gain leverage towards the newspapers they host, questions of journalistic practices need to come to the fore.

Big in Japan

ICA 2016 Logo

EDIT: May 14th: Following surgery due to a particularly nasty burst appendix, I will not be able to travel to ICA after all. A shame, but doctor’s orders are doctor’s orders. I am currently recuperating at home.

Apologies for the title of this post, I simply couldn’t resist. Nevertheless, when the smoke cleared after what some referred to as #glitchgate – see tweets by ICA, some graphs (of course) and an interesting prediction regarding next year’s conference – it was revealed that I would need to go Fukuoka for the 2016 ICA conference. Specifically, I’m involved in a series of presentations:

Larsson, Anders Olof (2016). Participant in roundtable: The Power of Digital Research. Other participants: Christian SandvigAniko HannakJean BurgessAngela WuEszter Hargittai and Homero Gil de Zúñiga.

Kalsnes, Bente, Larsson, Anders Olof and Enli, Gunn (2016). The social media logic of political interaction: Exploring citizens€ and politician relationships on Facebook and Twitter.

Larsson, Anders Olof (2016). “I Shared the News Today, Oh Boy”.€“ News Provision and Engagement on Facebook.

Sundnes Løvlie, Anders, Ihlebæk, Karoline Andrea and Larsson, Anders Olof (2016). User experiences with editorial control in online comments sections after the 2011 terror attacks in Norway.

Looks like I will have a busy week in Fukuoka.

Phoenix, AoIRizona

Desert botanical gardens

The picture above was taken by yours truly at the Desert Botanical Gardens, right outside of Phoenix, Arizona (or perhaps AoIRizona), site for the 2016 Association of Internet Researchers conference. This time around, I played a part in co-organizing two events together with Axel Bruns from Queensland University of Technology. First, I chaired and presented in a panel entitled Adoption and Adaptation: Diachronic Perspectives on the Growing Sophistication of Social Media Uses in Elections Campaigns. Besides Axel and myself, the other presenters were Tim Highfield, Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Luca Rossi. As the title (hopefully) implies, we provided longitidunal and/or diachronic insights regarding uses of social media during elections in our respective case countries. My presentation can be accessed here.

Moreover, I took part in a roundtable discussion featuring Axel Bruns as well as Katrin Weller from the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne. Specifically, our session was entitled ‘Black Box’ Data and ‘Flying Furball’ Networks: Challenges and Opportunities in Doing and Communicating Social Media Analytics. This was a stimulating opportunity to engage in discussion with not only my fellow panelists, but also the audience, regarding a series of issues regarding research on social media. For my own part, I focused my opening statement on three main issues. First, I took the opportunity to share some of my experiences of free vs. paid alternatives for Twitter data gathering. This knowledge is important to share, I would argue, since the business interests of Twitter data providers do not always align with the interests of researchers. Second, I took the opportunity to provide some examples of difficulties in communicating with ethical review boards across countries. Based on work undertaken by myself and in collaboration with Hallvard Moe (pdf), the differences between Sweden and Norway in this regard are rather substantial. Finally, I took the opportunity to provide some examples of different approaches to data gathering from Facebook – and what can go wrong when approaching Facebook for research purposes.

AoIR (get it? AoIRizona?) is one of my favorite conferences to attend, and next year doing so will be even more enjoyable since it is hosted in Berlin – a rather short flight compared to the time it took to travel from Oslo to Phoenix…

Vacation

Vacation 2015

NordMedia in Copenhagen

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Last week saw the biannual NordMedia conference go down in Copenhagen, gathering the bulk of media and communication researchers from the nordic countries. I had the pleasure of presenting two papers. The first (co-authored with Christian Christensen) deals with the uses of social media by the Swedish public service broadcaster, SVT, during the 2014 elections. The starting point for the paper is that while plenty of journalists are indeed present on Twitter, this particular service is used in a rather limited way by the larger population of online Swedes. Given the PSB mission of SVT, one might expect them to apply more of their resources to the more popular Facebook platform than we found that they did. This, we argue, signals somewhat of a communicative mismatch between the journalists and their audiences.

The second paper I was involved with was actually presented by my co-author, Eli Skogerbø. For this project, we looked at the values ascribed to various communication channels by Norwegian municipal politicians. While a lot of research has been performed looking at the communication practices of national level politicians, there appears to be a lack of studies focusing on the local level. With this as well as other, planned projects, I hope to be able to shed some more light on practices on the municipal level – arguably the level of government that most of us deal with on a day-to-day basis. On of the main results from the survey we used for this particular paper was that, with regards to online communication efforts, local politicians prefer Facebook over Twitter, which again speaks to the elite status of the latter platform. More to come…

This conference also saw me and my co-chair (Jakob Svensson) for the NordMedia political communication division step down and leaving responsibilities with Nils Gustafsson from Lund University and Christina Neumayer from the IT University of Copenhagen. I’m confident they will do a great job of organising sessions for NordMedia 2017, which if I am correctly informed will take place in Tampere, Finland.

Oh, and the picture above: I found this sign in a bicycle shop near Havnegade in Copenhagen (yes, that is me reflected in the window. Master photographer at work.). Translated, it says “We are here and we listen”. I thought it was a beautiful image – if anyone can enlighten me as to any further meaning attached to this picture, please get in touch.