ARTICLE: Age and gender of political journalists influence interaction on Twitter

Picture: untitled by Adrian Sava, license CC0 1.0

Millenials are described as more interactive online than older generations. This was not the case in a new study on political journalists. John H. Parmelee, Nataliya Roman, Berrin Beasley and Stephynie C. Perkins, all of the University of North Florida, examined how journalists’ age and gender influence their interactivity on Twitter. The authors did a content analysis of 4500 tweets from 45 political reporters in the United States.

Overall, only 6,5% of tweets were mutual discourse with citizens, and 1,4% were with politicians. Looking at the most genuine engagement, mutual discourse with citizens, Generation X journalists topped Millenials by a wide margin, the results show. Overall, Millennials did more mutual discourse than others, but mostly with fellow journalists.

Male journalists were almost twice as likely to engage in mutual discourse than females, contrasting previous studies. Female reporters were more likely to engage in responsive dialogue, though mostly with fellow journalists, the study finds.

The findings of the article support the concept of normalization, that is, how journalists rarely use new technology in innovative and collaborative ways, preferring traditional norms and practices instead.

The authors also offer a methodological note on studying Twitter: “Because many replies and retweets do not meet the standard for the most authentic form of engagement, researchers studying interactivity on Twitter should avoid measuring interactivity solely by counting the number of replies and retweets.”

The article “Gender and Generational Differences in Political Reporters’ Interactivity on Twitter” was published in Journalism Studies and is available online (abstract free). Also, another study from the same authors comparing interactivity by news outlet by was published recently in Electronic News (abstract free).

Picture: untitled by Adrian Sava, license CC0 1.0

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