EVOLUTION OF NEWS
UNDERSTANDING JOURNALIST’S VIEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
During the Fall 2018 semester, I completed a research project related to digital journalism at UC Berkeley. I interviewed journalists to understand their views on the impact of social media in their work. This was the final project for the course “Qualitative Research Methods” taught my Professor Jenna Burrell. Please find details regarding the motivation, methods, and outcomes of this work below.
There is increasing recognition of the way Silicon Valley, and especially social media companies, are transforming journalistic norms (Bell, et al., 2017). Prior literature explores the impact digital metrics have on newsroom culture and practices, paying special attention to clicks (Christin, 2014). Others have investigated the changing role of audience in the digital era (Anderson, 2011; MacGregor, 2007). However, the rate of technological advancement is fast and the increasing prevalence of social media in journalism implies there is more to learn on these topics. This research seeks to understand the meaning journalists attribute to social media and analytics in their work and how they interpret the increasing use of such platforms.
To explore this topic, I conducted five 45-minute unstructured interviews with journalists from different organizations in November and December of 2018. The end product of this research is an academic-style paper which outlines the resulting analysis, relating findings to existing literature. The paper concludes with methodological reflections and a vision for future work.
How do journalists feel about the impact of social media in their work?
Do digital metrics and audience analytics influence the way journalists assess the value of their work?
How have social media platforms changed the way journalists perceive their audiences?
Taking a course on Qualitative Research Methods and working on this project provided me with a deeper understanding of the types of knowledge claims we can make using a qualitative approach. I gained a stronger understanding of how to articulate the value of qualitative research, and some of the inherent limitations that exist as well. As a result, I feel more equipped to defend and employ qualitative techniques in an industry or academic setting.
Furthermore, this course and project helped me understand differences between design-oriented research versus research that seeks to generate knowledge about a topic. The end result of this research was a more academic-style paper, it did not seek to uncover specific design suggestions. Lastly, this was also my first experience conducting “unstructured” interviews, as typically, with projects I’ve completed in a company setting, the questions tend to be a bit more prescriptive and consistent across participants.