Newspapers in social media

Posted by Emily Krstulic

As I was browsing around the Internet, waiting for inspiration to strike for my next blog post, I stumbled across two really interesting

Screenshot from the Washington Post's Twitter feed on the site's homepage

Journalistics blog posts which ranked the top U.S. newspapers according to the number of Facebook and Twitter followers they have. At first I started reading it just because I found it interesting. More than that, I find the idea of newspapers wanting people to “Like” their publication on Facebook absurd in general.

And the papers’ Facebook followings were large but not astonishing; the New York Times lead with 781, 655 followers at the time of publication. As of November 2nd, 2010, as I write this, that number is at 876,145. Like I said, high but not surprising. Then I read the Twitter statistics.

Just as the New York Times leads in Facebook followers, they also lead the pack in their number of followers on Twitter, with an astounding 2,668,948 followers at the time of publication, up to 2,712,865 today. As the Journalistic blog noted, that means that the New York Times has more followers on Twitter than they do in print circulation.

That blew my mind. We talk more and more in our classes about social media, mostly Twitter, and their emerging roles in the distribution and collection of news in our society that is constantly connected. I mean, I get that Twitter does a good job of disseminating information fast. I can log on and scroll through my feed and see the top links on CNN, KC Star and The Onion at any time.

But for a publication to be followed more on Twitter than in print circulation seems to defeat the purpose. At what point does marketing and promotion on social media sites become a disadvantage? I would argue now, as NY Times and other newspapers are continuing to use Twitter and Facebook to distribute their content for free.

Does anyone else find this really bizarre, or is it just me? Do you think that this use of social media is reasonable or harmful to these publications? And, just out of curiosity, do you consume news through these social media sites?

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3 responses to “Newspapers in social media

  1. I do follow the New York Times on Twitter, and I don’t subscribe to the newspaper (although that’s more because I can pick it up at Drake for free).

    It’s a sad reality, but the way that Twitter packages its information is just too good for newspapers like the NY Times to pass up. It’s too important for them to at least have brand awareness in the evolving center ring that is social media, though I think you’re right about it how it feels sort of pointless. But I’d also argue that print publications knew what they were possibly getting into with taking active participation in the internet, and to a greater degree, the beast that is social media.

  2. Megan Bannister

    I have been an advocate for print media for a long time. When the Chicago Tribune cut its print content with a redesign I was crushed, and with the move to bring more and more content online, I wasn’t sure that I was completely on board. So in that respect I definitely agree with you. However, I think that for many publications, the move to social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook is an attempt to stay relevant and generate readership in a new and changing time. I’ll admit that when I’m on the go or now that I’m away at school, it is much easier for me to log onto Twitter or pull up the apps on my phone to find breaking news from my favorite newspapers and periodicals. While it may seem silly to dispense this information for free when revenue would be generated through printed content, over the past few years the costs of printing have most likely outweighed the revenue generated by them. As weird as it seems, I can see online content and social media sites’ involvement in them being a determining factor when it comes to which media outlets survive the shift to the Internet.

  3. I can see what you mean. In a struggling industry, doing what you need to do is important, and social media is what’s big right now. I’m just curious how much Twitter and Facebook can help newspapers in general.

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