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Repertoire- and Reciprocity-Oriented Perspectives on Journalistic Uses of Social Media

The next paper at ECREA 2016 is presented by Christoph Neuberger, whose focus is on the dynamic relationship between journalism and its audiences. He points out that the complexity of communication has increased with the range of options for communication that have now emerged in online contexts.

There are three main causes for this: first, journalism is now a thoroughly multichannel form of communication, involving conventional offline and online media as well as social media channels that operate in parallel. Second, social media, in particular, are multifunctional, and journalists as well as ordinary users are using them for a variety of functions at the same time: these include user participation, meta-communication, audience monitoring, publishing, and investigation.

Such uses can be explored using a media repertoire approach, which observes the uses selected by specific users for particular purposes, as well as examining the appropriateness of these uses for the intended purpose. Current results indicate that, by journalists as well as ordinary users, Facebook and Twitter are used across a wide range or purposes, while blogs and YouTube find more specific uses.

The third cause of increasing complexity is user participation: there are now mutual expectations and adjustment processes between journalists and their audiences within social media environments, creating a need for better mutual understanding and greater reciprocity that can be described, with Luhmann, as a state of double contingency.

Current research assessing such reciprocity – looking at the attitudes of both journalists and their audiences – shows that journalists systematically overestimate audiences' anger, frustration, and self-display, and underestimate their interest in engaging with journalists to gain more knowledge. There is a need here therefore for the development of more repertoire- and reciprocity-oriented perspectives.