Tweets reveal news readership patterns around the world

September 25, 2013

For many international news followers, having a cup of coffee while reading the morning newspaper has turned into scrolling a Twitter feed to catch up on important news as it happens throughout the day. In a new article published in SAGE Open, researchers used data collected from Twitter to study readers' news preferences across the globe and discovered that different countries have stronger preference towards different types of articles – American and British readers are more drawn to opinion and world news, Spaniards to local and national news, Brazilians to sports and arts, and Germans to politics and economy.

The researchers also found that German and Spanish readers are more likely to read national newspapers compared to British readers, who prefer foreign publications.

Authors Marco Toledo Bastos and Gabriela Zago conducted the study by monitoring tweeted news links from eight of the largest national newspapers in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Germany over two weeks in 2012. The researchers analyzed123,191 from Germany, 394,533 from Brazil, 792,952 from Spain, 537,606 from the UK, and 994,417 from America, totaling of 2,842,699 tweets.

Through their analysis, the researchers found not only that social media helps to demonstrate readership patterns, but also that through social media the readers themselves play an active role in determining the popularity of different news stories.

The researchers wrote, "Audiences now have the opportunity to express their agency, not only as readers of texts but also as a fundamental piece that decides which news articles are replicated and which news section gets the most attention across ."

Explore further: 'Respect' button is better for democracy than 'like' button, study finds

More information: "Tweeting News Articles: Readership and News Section in Europe and the Americas." SAGE Open, 2013.

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