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Celebrity Tweets as a Way of Managing News Coverage

The next presenter at ECREA 2014 is Marcel Broersma, who begins by flagging Robbie Williams's recent livetweeting of the birth of his child: such tweets were also used widely by the mainstream news media, of course. This demonstrates the emerging role of Twitter as a newsbeat for journalists, who now frequently quote from tweets in their articles.

This is especially prominent for celebrity tweets, and in a sense empowers these celebrities to manage their public personae without losing control of their privates lives. For journalists and news organisations this is interesting as celebrit sells papers, but it also changes the journalist/source relationship.

Marcel's study compared such patterns in popular papers in the UK and the Netherlands, focussing on the use of celebrity tweets. From 2009 to 2012, such sourcing practices increased substantially in the UK, while similar practices in the Netherlands have remained much more stagnant; this may also be a result of the much stronger competition for readership in the UK market. In the UK, celebrity tweets often triggered reporting, in fact, while Dutch papers more often used such tweets for illustration. There was roughly a 70/30 split between non-personal and personal tweets being cited.

So, attention to celebrities' private lives was much more prevalent in the UK, but the focus is largely on chronicling the social media buzz around them. Celebrities themselves have gradually become more social me if-savvy, and are using their social media updates to build and manage their personal brands. Some have developed a social media ensemble by combining a number of social media platforms and channels to create a multifacetted persona. The largely bypasses actual journalists, who are now placed in the role of mere scribes.