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Social Media and Public Service Media

The final keynote at ASMC14 is by the fabulous Hallvard Moe, whose focus is on the intersections between social media and public service broadcasting. How can media researchers contribute to rethinking public service broadcasting? Defining PSB is difficult, but there is often a belief that policy makers know it when they see it; PSB is an inherently contested concept, coined a very long time ago in a very different context – even in Europe alone, how PSBs are positioned and organised is very different across different countries.

What such institutions have in common, though, is the general aim that PSBs should provide vital information and contribute to the public good; they are a policy tool to provide journalism and bring citizens together as a public. PSB institutions around the world do not necessarily always achieve such an ideal – they now exist in almost constant turmoil, due to a range of contextual factors. They can only survive by externalising their internal challenges; these challenges are always present, and in recent years especially associated with the rise of digital media and the media practices such media enable and promote.

Social Media Use by BBC World Service and Russia Today during the Sochi Games

The final speaker in this ASMC14 session is Marie Gillespie, whose interest is in the tweeting of global events – she focusses here especially on the controversial Sochi Olympics in early 2014, which were also affected by the unfolding political crisis in Ukraine.

One player in the media environment around the Olympics is the Russian state broadcaster Russia Today, whose mission is to present a Russian perspective on world news. It receives $300m per annum, at the same time that comparable public diplomacy broadcasters like BBC World Service or the Australia Network are being downsized or discontinued.

Social Media as a Backchannel to Television in Palestine

The next speaker in this ASMC14 session is Rhiannon Were, whose focus is on the use of social media alongside public broadcasting in the Palestinian Territories. People there feel very powerless towards their leaders, given the lack of effective governance and accountability frameworks, and two political talk shows with ancillary multiplatform elements, conducted in part in collaboration with BBC Arabic, have been created to address this problem. The shows reach an audience of some 500,000 viewers, and research is underway to inform programming, evaluate the project, and generate evidence of impact.

Making Sense of TV Tweeting: The Case of #qanda

Next up at ASMC14 is Philip Pond, whose focus is on tweets during televised political debates in Australia. He takes a particularly temporal perspective to his research, and highlights the impact of electronic media on our experience of time and space; there is a kind of hyper-fast network time which is qualitatively different from its predecessor, the time of the clock.

Philip's focus is on the Australian political talk show Q&A and it's associated hashtag #qanda, which has a weekly audience of around 900,000 viewers. It invites journalists, politicians, and other panellists to its conversations (centred around largely pre-scripted questions), also streams live online. Its hashtag attracts some 20,000 tweets per week, and some 50-100 tweets from this are superimposed onto the live broadcast as the show airs.

Patterns in Social TV in Italy

The next session at ASMC14 is about social media and TV, and Donatella Selva is the first presenter, examining social TV in the Italian context. Television remains the main source of information for the Italian population, while some 44% of people use Facebook and some 10% are using Twitter. However, Twitter is also an elite medium attracting especially influential users, including journalists and celebrities.

Clear definitions of social TV are difficult. 'Hard' definitions focus on the technology, while 'soft' definitions point to the use of social media alongside television. It is also possible to distinguish between mere access, participation, and interaction with TV through social media, and it's necessary to think through what the social media publics around television actually constitute.

Tweeting Along with Political Talkshows

The next speaker at ASMC14 is Evelien D'heer, whose focus is on the use of Twitter as a backchannel to a Flemish political TV talkshow, Terzake. The show has now appointed a 'conversation manager' to guide the Twitter discussion, following a public Twitter spat over the quality of the programme: after criticism of the show's quality by a user, a patronising tweet from the programme makers was widely criticised, and the conversation manager is meant to improve producer/audience relations again.

In this case, then, social media and journalistic logics co-define the programme and its meanings. Evelien's project investigated this process by conducting interviews with programme makers, newsroom observations, network analyses of the Twitter conversation, and interviews with tweeting audience members. This approach is able to compare stated expectations with observations of actual behaviour, on both sides.

Online Backchannels to Television Broadcasts in Spain

The next "Compromised Data" is Mariluz Sánchez, who is taking a socio-semiotic approach to the intersection between television and the Internet. This transforms the concept of interactivity, revolutionising reception and enabling the development of transmedia storytelling where viewers develop relationships with the content through various platforms.

Various resources are available to viewers online, promoting consumption and building loyalty towards the programming. Industry is now providing direct access to audiences, and viewers' ability to provide direct feedback can be seen as a form so social empowerment. Mariluz analysed these resources by examining the resources listed on the first five pages of Google search results for specific TV shows, excluding BitTorrent and other download resources.

Second-Screen Tweeting on Belgian TV

The next presentation in this AoIR 2013 panel is by Pieter Verdegem and Evelin D'Heer, whose interest is in the role of Twitter in second-screen viewing. Twitter has been pushing this very strongly, but is social TV actually something new? We've seen attention to the social uses of television at least since the 1990s, through ethnographic research, but the use of social media has spread these practices further and connected users more widely.

Twitter can be a useful tool for measuring audience participation, but we also need to take into account the Twitter userbase in each country - in Belgium, some 20% of the population are said to be on Twitter, for example, but that group is neither demographically representative nor are they necessarily all active participants.

Some Recent and Upcoming Work

When this site goes quiet, it’s usually because work is exceptionally busy. My apologies for the long silence since the launch of our major collection A Companion to New Media Dynamics – a range of projects, variously relating to the uses of social media in crisis communication, of Twitter in a number of national elections, of social media as a second-screen backchannel to televised events, and of ‘big data’ in researching online issue publics, have kept me occupied for the past eight months or so.

Now, I’m about to head off to Denver for the annual Association of Internet Researchers conference and on to a number of other events, and you can expect the usual bout of live blogging from these conferences – but before I do so, here’s a quick update of some of the major publications and papers I’ve completed during the past few months. For some more frequent updates on the work of my colleagues and me, you can also follow our updates at Mapping Online Publics and the site of the QUT Social Media Research Group, of course. On the SMRG site, we’ve also posted a list of the presentations we’ll be making at AoIR and beyond – hope to see you there!

A Final 2012 Publications Round-Up

As we’re hurtling down the last few hours towards 2013, it seems like a good idea to take stock of what was an incredibly busy 2012. Here, then, is a round-up of all (I think) of my publications and presentations for the year, organised into loose thematic categories. In all, and with my various collaborators from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation and beyond, I seem to have generated some 4 book chapters, 12 journal articles, 22 conference presentations and one major report – and that’s not counting various articles in The Guardian, The Conversation, and other media outlets. There’s also a few more articles still in the pipeline – but given today’s date, I suspect they’ll end up counting towards 2013 rather than 2012…

 

Social Media Research Methods

One major component of our Mapping Online Publics work for this year has been the further development of our social media research approaches, especially as far as Twitter research is concerned. A number of my publications have dealt with the practical aspects of this work:

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