Social Media and Journalism: 10 Years Later, Untangling Key Assumptions

AbstractAmid a broader reckoning about the role of social media in public life, this article argues that the same scrutiny can be applied to the journalism studies field and its approaches to examining social media. A decade later, what hath such research wrought? We need a more particular accounting of the assumptions, biases, and blind spots that have crept into this line of research as well as the study of mediated conversations broadly. Our purpose is to provoke reflection and chart a path for future research by critiquing themes of what has come before. In particular, we seek to untangle three faulty assumptions—often implicit but no less influential—that have been overlooked in the rapid take-up of social media as a key phenomenon for journalism studies particularly and digital media studies generally: (1) that social media would be a net positive; (2) that social media reflects reality; and (3) that social media matters over and above other factors.

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