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New methodologies for researching news discussion on Twitter

Bruns, Axel & Burgess, Jean E. (2011) New methodologies for researching news discussion on Twitter. In The Future of Journalism 2011, 8 - 9 September 2011, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Twitter has become a major instrument for the rapid dissemination and subsequent debate of news stories. It has been instrumental both in drawing attention to events as they unfolded (such as the emergency landing of a plane in New York’s Hudson River in 2009) and in facilitating a sustained discussion of major stories over timeframes measured in weeks and months (including the continuing saga around Wikileaks and Julian Assange), sometimes still keeping stories alive even if mainstream media attention has moved on elsewhere.

More comprehensive methodologies for research into news discussion on Twitter – beyond anecdotal or case study approaches – are only now beginning to emerge. This paper presents a large-scale quantitative approach to studying public communication in the Australian Twittersphere, developed as part of a three-year ARC Discovery project that also examines blogs and other social media spaces. The paper will both outline the innovative research tools developed for this work, and present outcomes from an application of these methodologies to recent and present news themes.

Our methodology enables us to identify major themes in Twitter’s discussion of these events, trace their development and decline over time, and map the dynamics of the discussion networks formed ad hoc around specific themes (in part with the help of Twitter #hashtags: brief identifiers which mark a tweet as taking part in an established discussion). It is also able to identify links to major news stories and other online resources, and to track their dissemination across the wider Twittersphere.

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ID Code: 46330
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
Keywords: social media, Twitter, research methodologies, journalism, public communication, internet studies, data visualisation
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > JOURNALISM AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING (190300) > Journalism Studies (190301)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies (200102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Media Studies (200104)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess
Deposited On: 18 Oct 2011 09:16
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2012 09:56

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