Practising Journalism on Twitter? A Computational Analysis of British Journalists’ Use of Twitter Before the 2016 EU Referendum in the UK



This chapter examines the tweeting activities of 20 journalists from four selected British national news outlets during one month before the United Kingdom’s European Union referendum and the discourses about the referendum constructed in their tweets. It aims to assess the extent to which their tweeting activities can be seen as journalistic practice. Our analysis confirms that their tweeting practices are very different from those of general Twitter users but similar to those of their newspapers. They are evidently applying journalistic principles and values to their tweeting practices. Their performance on Twitter made them stand out and reflected their professional consciousness. They focused on tweeting about the referendum itself rather than private life-related issues, such as their own experiences or opinions about the EU. The journalists largely had the same stance about the referendum as their newspapers. However, on some occasions, journalists indeed made personal comments and retweeted tweets by the opposing side, though this may be related to the fact that most newspapers only made their stance clear late in the campaign. Therefore, journalists’ tweeting practices lie somewhere in the continuum with journalistic practice at one end and nonjournalistic practice at the other end, although close to the journalistic practice end.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brunel University LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Independent ResearcherLondonUK

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