Update on COSMIC publications

COSMIC is pleased to communicate the latest developments regarding its publications.


Lemi Baruh & Hayley Watson, "Using Twitter for What? A Segmentation Study of Twitter Usage During Gezi Protests", to be published in the Proceedings of the European Conference on Social Media (ECSM), 2014

Abstract: This study reports results from a segmentation analysis of Twitter usage patterns during the Gezi Protests that took place in Turkey in 2013. This segmentation analysis reveals the existence of four distinct groups of Twitter users: 1) “update hubs”, who use Twitter for learning about updates and sharing these updates with others; 2) “update seekers” who use Twitter to get information about the protests; 3) “opinion followers” who were oriented towards learning about opinions rather than information via Twitter; and 4) “voice makers” who used Twitter primarily to share their opinions about the protests. The Twitter usage segments were predictive of key differences in types of activities performed on Twitter during the protests, trust in Twitter as a source of information, and information verification techniques utilized by the users. First, while all segments were equally motivated to use Twitter for a surveillance function, Update Hubs and Voice Makers were also more likely to be motivated by using Twitter for connectivity (i.e., to expand one’s network). Second, in terms of different types of Twitter related activities, Voice Makers and Update Hubs were more likely to Tweet and Retweet about the protests than members of other segments. Also, Voice Makers were more likely to reply to other people’s Tweets. Third, the only segment that avoided using Twitter for informational purposes, Opinion Seekers, were less trusting of Twitter than other segments. Finally, Update Hubs, who aimed to act as a conduit by spreading information, were most active in terms of cross-checking information with multiple sources to verify the information they came across online before distributing it further. 


Haluk Mert Bal & Salvatore Scifo, "Reporting Crisis: Motivations, Perceptions and Professionalism in Citizen Journalism Practices from Gezi Park", has been accepted to be presented in the ECREA 2014 conference in Lisbon. 


Abtract: This paper, part of larger project on the use of social media in crisis management, will present the findings of a research on citizen journalism practices during the Gezi Park protests in the Turkish city of Istanbul in June 2013. Based on the interviews to a sample of bloggers that reported the protests, it will analyze their motivational aspects to engage in citizen journalism practices, their perceptions regarding what constitutes citizen journalism; and perceived differences between citizen journalism and professional journalism, particularly in terms of opportunities and challenges associated with reporting during an emergency. Firstly, the analysis of the bloggers' motivations reveals that four main factors that contribute to individuals' motivations to engage in citizen reporting and commentary: 1) a motivation to share one's opinions on issues relevant to personal interests and contribute to attitude change in the society through online media -- in other words, raising awareness, 2) lack of coverage of certain events by the mainstream media, 3) uniformity in the mainstream media in terms of both style and content -- lack of alternative voices, 4) need to filter online content Secondly, in terms of the bloggers' conceptualization of citizen journalism, emerging findings indicate that, namely, for some, on-site reporting is a prerequisite of being considered as a citizen journalist. Yet, for others, being able to contribute to the information environment by engaging in functions related to filtering, agenda-setting and sense making should be sufficient to categorize a person as a citizen journalist. The respondents also underlined the need to adhere to ethical boundaries set about information and reporting accuracy. Thirdly, with respect to the main differences between citizen and "professional" journalism, the interviews underline five key points: 1) Citizen journalists typically perceive that they enjoy higher editorial independence; 2) Changes in news writing style via online services which enable users to create chronological news stories based on user-generated content allows citizens to challenge conventions such as the inverted pyramid; 3) For some citizen journalists, lack of access to on-site reporting capabilities, particularly while covering international events, leads to reliance on official press releases; 4) Another important challenge for citizen journalists is the lack of protection which is enjoyed by professional journalists. In conclusion, citizen journalists believe that during emergencies, they have an advantage over mainstream media journalists because they can sidestep long fact- checking processes through what they call the "publish and then filter" approach. Other citizen journalists indicate that fact- checking is less of a concern for them because they report perspectives and emotions. The implications of this approach for reliability of information needs to be further studied; however, we believe that such comments are indicative that "reliability of information" will continue to be a key problem in citizen journalism, particularly during emergencies when the need to be quick in reporting events may be more pressing.


The complete overview of COSMIC working documents is available here.