Poltical tweeps under the microscope

Nice post from Nieman Lab on how people are acting like journalists on Twitter. Caught my eye because that’s exactly what I do. This is basically the concept of content curation in PR, a role established enough now that people can list it as previous experience on their resume and apply for jobs that request it.

Here’s what they’re doing:

Now, Metzgar and Ibold are still in the process of evaluating tweets — 250 so far, but ultimately 2,500 — for journalistic behaviors. For example, do these Twitter users verify the information they’re sharing? Do they simply assert information? Do they affirm preconceived notions? Or do they demonstrate some other special-interest approach?

Former Nieman Foundation curator Bill Kovach and Project for Excellence in Journalism director Tom Rosenstiel developed this evaluation framework — verification, assertion, affirmation, and special-interest —  in their book Blur. (For the purposes of their study, Metzgar and Ibold added a “none of the above” category.)

Researchers are also evaluating tweets for political rhetoric using three categories: attack, acclaim, and rebuttal. Their early findings have yielded some interesting results. Metzgar and Ibold find the most prevalent journalistic mode among their politically-oriented sample is assertion, which Kovach and Rosenstiel characterize as placing the “highest value on immediacy and volume and in so doing tends to become a passive conduit of information.” (Sound familiar, web users?)

… cool. But pretty limited. I’d like to see a more comprehensive study of the sharing and fact-checking methods that the various tribes use on Twitter. It’d be interesting to have someone steeped in online blog reading (like many of those adorning my roll to the right) check how different readers of different sites interact and promote information. This is only a preliminary study (from “30,000 feet”) as the article notes, so I’d love to have a look at what it’s like when they get more time and data.

Also, this made me smile:

Regardless of political orientation, tweets were likely to be “scandal-oriented with emotional charge.” (Again, sound familiar, web users?)

As did this, though for a different reason:

What may be more telling is how both of these highly engaged Twitter groups — in addition to an “overall disregard for verification” — ignored traditional media, and one another. In instances when Twitter users did attempt to provide verification, it often came in the form of a link to an outside source. But rarely was that source a traditional journalistic outlet.

Given how ‘traditional’ journalistic outlets have failed us during the past couple of decades, I’m OK with that.

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