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What good is Twitter? The value of social media to public service journalism

Hahn, Nadja (2013) What good is Twitter? The value of social media to public service journalism. Eurovision Media Strategy Publication. European Broadcasting Union and POLIS, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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This research paper is a report with a purpose. Its author, who is ultimately responsible for the views it contains, is exactly the kind of journalist who should be using social media. Nadja Hahn is an experienced business journalist with Austria’s public service broadcaster ORF. She makes good radio news content that informs the listeners on the critical economic stories of our times. She had already dabbled in social media before embarking on this project but she is limited in what she can do professionally by Austrian regulations. In a clever and pithy blog post for Polis during her stay at the LSE she showed how social media could have improved a recent radio feature she had made. The title said it all: ‘What It’s Like To Tell A Story Without Social Media And Why I will Never Do So Again”. However, the reasons she sets out in this paper for using social media are not because it makes journalism easier, speedier or fashionable. The case she sets out is that it improves the public service value of the journalism. I have long argued that journalism changes when it becomes networked2. It can become more open, responsive, creative and diverse. The use of social media to engage the public can add depth, variety, and reach. It can tap into wider expertise and accountability networks beyond the newsroom. This paper tests that thesis in the time-starved, resource-constrained world of European public service broadcasting. It sets it in a context where private media is anxious about the threat of online platforms and worried that subsidised channels might reduce the opportunities that they offer commercially. This paper draws in particular upon the mixed media ecology of the UK with its relatively advanced social media networks to show that cohabitation is both possible and desirable for private and public media in the online sphere. Anyone working for a PSB at any level will learn from this report. Indeed, it has ideas for anyone interested in better journalism wherever it is made. We welcome any responses that you might have. It is designed to stimulate debate and new approaches rather than to advance a single point of view or policy. Each national media market will have different circumstances and each society will have different priorities. But in the end Nadja Hahn’s report sends out a clear and urgent message. PSB management across Europe needs to take social media more seriously, to defend the role of PSBs in this new media environment and to invest in adding public service value to the new platforms and networks. This report was produced as part of the EBU newsroom fellowship at Polis, the journalism and society think-tank at the London School of Economics. We are grateful to the EBU for their support and to all the many people who gave their time to contribute to the research.

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 POLIS
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2014 09:11
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2021 23:16
Projects: European Broadcasting Union's Radio News and Journalism Now
Funders: European Broadcasting Union, Polis Newsroom Fellowship

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