Awareness systems or echo chambers? Latin American journalists’ usage of Twitter as a news gathering tool
Keywords:social media, algorithms, journalism, awareness systems, knowledge production, Latin America
Twitter holds the potential to help journalists — especially at independent news organizations in the Global South with limited resources — to diversify their news gathering beyond reliance on traditional gatekeepers. However, both Twitter’s design and journalists’ news gathering routines may be reinforcing, rather than breaking, media echo chambers. This study gauges how journalists in developing countries are using Twitter and whether new tools for interacting with the platform might help them access a greater diversity of online voices. To do so, we combine ethnographic observation of newsrooms in Mexico and Venezuela with a pilot test of a who-to-follow recommendation algorithm that seeks to expose Twitter users to new perspectives. We find that journalists’ strategies for using Twitter vary based on their organizational roles, the temporality of their work, and concerns about misinformation, but that some may indeed be receptive to alternative approaches to Twitter as an “awareness system” to generate news story ideas and identify sources.
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