Indian TV Anchors on Twitter: Technological Practice and Textual Form
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How do established TV journalists engage with the possibilities offered by a new technology of newsmaking? Pondering this issue amidst the media boom in India, this chapter examines the journalistic practice of leading TV news anchors on Twitter. Two specific aspects of their practice on Twitter are examined here: variations in their messaging behaviour, and shifts in their opinions towards political actors. We draw on a corpus of over 2000 tweets generated by three leading TV news anchors—the most followed Indian journalists on Twitter that year—over a period of 13 months leading to the national elections of May 2014. National elections, the biggest news spectacle in India offer an exciting moment to examine journalistic practices, especially changes in journalists’ opinions towards key political and electoral actors. The corpus of tweets is investigated into at two levels. At the enumerative level, we profile the volume and frequency of tweets, the people and issues drawn attention to, and the kinds of media content circulated by these leading journalists. Such a comparative mapping reveals the messaging behaviour of TV journalists on the mobile “broadcasting” platform of Twitter. At the interpretive level, we decipher the opinion of these journalists towards key political actors as reflected in their tweets, including shifts in their opinion in tandem with changes in electoral dynamics. This dual traction ensures our study is as much about how established actors from the legacy media engage with a novel platform of news circulation, as about how journalists respond to changing political currents.
The authors thank Sanjay Mamani and Biswajit Das for their support and ideas, Shruti Ravi and Susan Koshy for helping out in aspects of the research, and Vipul Mudgal for comments on the draft.
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