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.

Tech Journalism?

Quick item for today: read this, a good article from Nieman Lab. Has some good stats about mobile media consumption the news biz. Also, I think the idea of tech giant (Google, Amazon, maybe even Apple) purchasing a legacy news organization is really interesting. Seems like it’d be dumb as rocks from a business perspective but who knows.

Also, if you missed this from Brendan Nyhan over at CJR on the Etch a Sketch flap that’s been setting the “news” world on fire, read it. Best take I’ve seen yet.


I like this idea a lot. The NYT is using some of their money to play around with a feature that allows you to zero in on a story and then follow along subsequent articles on similar topics. From Nieman:

The task (or, more accurately, one of the tasks) for beta620, the Times experimental projects group, is to find a better way to make the newspaper’s information more readily available — both to readers and to the Times itself. Their latest stab at the problem is something they’re calling Deep Dive, a project that aims to give readers a richer, more nuanced understanding of stories.

Deep Dive uses the Times’ massive cache of metadata from stories to go, as the name suggests, deeper into a news event by pulling together related articles. So instead of performing a search yourself within the Times and weeding out off-topic results, Deep Dive would provides readers a collection of stories relating to a topic, based on whatever person, place, event or topic of their choosing. So let’s say you’re interested in protests in Yemen, with Deep Dive you could use an article from nytimes.com as a seed and let the system collect a history of previous items relating to news from the region.

Cool stuff. Sorta makes me think about a Twitter-like structure for consuming news, where you can subscribe to different topic streams and follow along. For what it’s worth, if the NYT were to segment their reporting, so that I could directly donate to a part of the organization that followed union activity, environmental reporting, financial malfeasance cases and other stuff that piques my interest, I’d pony up. And as long as I knew that money was in no way going towards the salaries and travel charges of Tom Friedman, Bobo, Gail Collins and the rest of the clowns, I’d be happy to do so.