Political Opinion Magazines' Use of Twitter During Election 2012

TitlePolitical Opinion Magazines' Use of Twitter During Election 2012
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Sivek, S. C.
Affiliation (1st Author)Linfield College
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeJRE T1b
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE T1b
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleHybridization of Media, Twitter and Political Implications Theme II: Innovations in Journalism
Submission ID5137

Before there were blogs and political tweets representing every position on the political spectrum, there were print magazines that reflected a range of philosophies and opinions. In the U.S., American political magazines have long contributed to the vibrancy of varied political movements. These magazines' unique journalism has helped identify, form, and mobilize communities of citizens. For example, National Review is thought to have significantly aided the development of the 20th-century conservative movement in the U.S. by providing a coherent paradigm of thought for movement aspirants (Sivek, 2008). However, despite the longevity and political significance of many of these magazines over the last hundred years, they have been threatened like all other print journalism by rapid changes in technology, readers’ interests and habits, and widespread economic crisis. Though political angst and polarization may have aided these magazines in maintaining readers’ loyalty, some degree of cynicism with the political process may have diminished audiences, particularly younger readers who report higher disengagement with not just politics, but also with print media (Bakker & de Vreese, 2011). As Bakker and de Vreese (2011) note, though, the Internet is offering new opportunities for both new forms of political participation by all ages, while it is also transforming journalism. Political magazines can now offer not only websites with their print content, but also have blogs and social media accounts. The dialogic features of social media may especially enable the kind of frame alignment process that social movement theorists have long studied in a range of movements (Benford & Snow, 2000). If political magazines seek to engage readers in their specific political perspectives and wish to mobilize them for real-world political participation, social media present many opportunities to do so. This study offers a content analysis of Twitter activity from 16 major political opinion magazines in the U.S. during the month prior to the November 2012 presidential election. The study is an exploratory attempt to operationalize frame alignment efforts visible through social media texts. This content analysis identifies key aspects of Twitter usage that reflect components of the frame alignment process and examines how political magazines’ Twitter activity may have applied aspects of this process to better engage and mobilize their audiences. These magazines have not only the normative goal of achieving specific political gains by mobilizing readers, but also the pragmatic goal of remaining sustainable as publishing enterprises. Therefore, their ability to utilize this new medium for frame alignment purposes is significant for both its potential effects on political participation and for the survival of this genre of journalism in the decades to come. This analysis will offer both practical and theoretical insights into the roles of political magazines and social media in an increasingly digital age of political mobilization.

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