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The social journalist: Embracing the social media life or creating a new digital divide?

Conference contribution
Authors Ulrika Hedman
Monika Djerf-Pierre
Published in ECREA 2012, 24-27 october, Istanbul
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Keywords journalistik, sociala medier, professionella normer, professionella värderingar
Subject categories Media Studies, Media and Communications

Abstract

The explosive spread of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs is thoroughly documented by research. The ongoing social media hype has also put pressure on journalists to be active social media users almost 24/7. There is no doubt that social media have developed into an important journalistic tool and journalists are more active in social media than most other users. There are, however, several challenges associated with the social media expansion among journalists. Professional values and journalistic norms are put to the test and the constant public exposure of individual journalists makes all journalists vulnerable to threats and harassment. Indeed, not all journalists are equally keen to embrace the new “social media life.” So far, however, there are few studies that examine the differences between categories of journalists when it comes to social media use. To what extent has the spread of social media created new professional gaps among journalists? Is there a digital divide between users and non-users and, if so, is the gap related to age, gender, education, class, or the professional experience of journalists? This paper examines journalists’ professional use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs. The study analyzes the level, purpose and evaluation of usage of social media among different categories of journalists with regard to social media as a journalistic tool, a vehicle for accountability (through transparency and dialog), and an instrument for personal or corporate branding. Because of its profusion of Internet and mobile devices, Sweden is often characterized as a digital hotspot. Swedish news organizations are also described as modern and innovative, and Swedish journalists as early and eager adopters of various cross-media applications as well as social media. This study gives a comprehensive picture of the “social journalist,” based on a representative survey of Swedish journalists: the survey contains questions about the social background of journalists, professional values, journalistic norms, lifestyle, media use, working conditions, etc. The data were collected between 2011 and 2012 from a random sample of 2,500 members of the Swedish Union of Journalists (a professional organization of which most Swedish journalists are members).

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