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Nuernbergk, Christian (2016): Political journalists' interaction networks. The German Federal Press Conference on Twitter. In: Journalism Practice, Vol. 10, No. 7: pp. 868-879
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Abstract

This article examines with whom political journalists interact on Twitter and what information they share. These relations are explored by combining a content analysis and a network analysis of interaction patterns. The activities published on journalists' personal accounts are studied. Prior research has shown that elite journalists, in particular, mainly seek to remain gatekeepers and tend to normalize emerging communication spaces. Only one-quarter of the parliamentary correspondents in the German Federal Press Conference had an individual Twitter profile as of February 2014. The content analysis of all tweets published during a week in March 2014 (N = 2210) reveals that German political journalists clearly normalize Twitter to fit existing practices: the journalists mostly tweeted about publicly relevant communication and reported in an information-oriented style. Transparency was limited on their topics of interest, and they did not provide direct opportunities for the audience to become more active in the news-creation process. The network analysis shows that the correspondents especially incorporated politicians into their regular circle of contacts. Nevertheless, the interaction networks were clearly dominated by exchanges between journalists. In this way, journalists' tweets allow us to observe expert talks rather than encouraging users to participate in a discussion.