This cumulative dissertation project analyses user behaviour with regard to news on social networking platforms.
An increasing part of news distribution and news selection takes place in the context of social networking platforms. Due to changes in conventional distribution methods of mass media content away from traditional media, "the people, formerly known as the audience" (Rosen, 2006) are offered a diverse range of news sources in forms of individual news feeds on social network platforms. The aim of this dissertation project is to shed more light on users' intentions as well as their strategies and routines to assemble personalised publics for the purpose of news usage on social networking platforms as compared to traditionally published news.
The study focusses on the role of social networking platforms in the news repertoires of media users. For this purpose, qualitative interviews and a secondary analysis of the Reuters Digital News Survey results will be conducted to examine the relevance and function of these information sources in relation to other traditional news sources. Furthermore, user practices and strategies will be analysed and described. First results show that news usage is not the initial incentive for using social networking platforms and that traditional news sources are, even if they are critically questioned, still prefered. Information-oriented users see social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as gateways to traditional news sources as well as niche groups and counter-publics.
In a follow-up study, user behaviour and their selection of sources on Facebook and Twitter will be analysed by using a tracking-tool and a contextualising survey in order to illustrate further strategies of information management.
This dissertation project is part of Research Programme 1 "Transformation of Public Communication: Journalistic and Intermediary Functions in the Process of Opinion Formation" and addresses the programme's main topics such as the establishment of public spheres with regard to the changing conditions of communication or the function of journalistic services and information intermediaries in media repertoires. The thesis is being supervised by PD Dr. Wiebke Loosen and Prof. Dr. Uwe Hasebrink of the Hans-Bredow-Institut.
Research programme: RP1 - Transformation of Public Communication