How Black Twitter And Other Social Media Communities Interact With Mainstream News: Knight Foundation Report

Written by Staff


In 2017, Knight Foundation commissioned a study to understand how subcultures on social media, comprised of traditionally marginalized communities including Black Twitter, Feminist Twitter, and Asian American Twitter, interact with reporters and the news. The goal was to create lessons for reporters on better covering and engaging with these communities, aligned with Knight’s journalism work that supports greater newsroom diversity.

Among the findings:

  • Twitter subcultures give voice to issues that mainstream media don’t cover.
  • Community members express low levels of trust in the media.
  • Media critique often relates to how issues are framed.
  • Participants bypass mainstream media as a news source.
  • Media relies on Twitter subcultures as a source of news.
  • Participants are concerned about story mining by journalists.
  • Engagement doesn’t equal favorability
  • Participants tend to share news content that covers their community’s high-visibility Twitter activities.

From Knight Foundation.

The issues and voices of people of color and women have attracted much attention from professional journalists over the past few years. Yet many such individuals have criticized journalists’ portrayals and coverage of issues that are important to them.

In response, some participants have assumed the role of news creators and distributors, focusing on their communities’ particular concerns. Understanding these emerging social subcultures will allow more accurate portrayals of diverse communities and yield insights for better journalistic engagement in the digital age.

Using a mix of computational analysis, qualitative review, and interviews, Knight Foundation researchers analyzed over 46 million tweets with community-related hashtags from 2015 to 2016. To date, this report is the largest review of Twitter conversations examining the relationship between media and these online sub-cultures.

Read more at Knight Foundation.

Black Twitter
Adrian Franks

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