Twitter in the News: An analysis of embedded tweets in political news coverage


This study examines the growing journalistic practice of embedding full tweets in political online news coverage. Against the background of a hybrid media system, we pursue three research goals. First, we evaluate the scope of the Twitter-in-the-news phenomenon relative to the overall news coverage. Second, we examine the functions of embedded tweets. Third, we identify characteristics that increase the likelihood that tweets are selected for publication in a news article. We combine computational methods with a manual content analysis and analyze political news coverage of one month outside election periods in four German online news outlets. Our results show that embedding tweets in the news is not a niche phenomenon but has been established as a routine journalistic practice at a modest level. In the majority of news articles, tweets function as an illustration of an argument or information provided in the text. Geographical proximity and – with some dependencies – the amount of popularity cues increased the likelihood of a tweet to be picked up for reporting. The paper provides evidence how transformation processes currently observed in journalism manifest themselves in reporting.

Digital Journalism