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HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED THE WAY TELEVISION SETS THE PUBLIC AGENDA

Thea Ghvinadze






HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED THE WAY TELEVISION SETS THE PUBLIC AGENDA

Thea Ghvinadze



Supervisor: Ekaterine Basilaia

 

June, 2017

 


 

Table of contents

Introduction ……………………………………….. 1

Literature Review …………………………………. 3

Agenda-Setting Theory ………………………….... 3

Challenges of Television in Social Media Era ……. 4

TV and Inter-Media Agenda-Setting ……………… 7

TV and Social Media Landscape in Georgia ……… 8

Research Questions  ……………………………….. 10

Methodology  ………………………………………. 11

Findings  …………………………………………..... 13

ImediTV …..……………………………………..... 13

Rustavi2 …..……………………………………..... 16

Discussion/Analysis ………………………………... 20

Limitations ..……………………………………....... 23

Conclusion ..……………………………………........ 24

References …………………………………………... II







 

How Social Media Changed the Way Television Sets the Public Agenda

Introduction

For decades the agenda-setting theory has assumed that the media agenda is similar to the public agenda. Berger and Freeman (2011) note that the stories covered by the media most often are the items at the top of both the media and public agendas.  Over the last decades the Internet has transformed how information is stored, published, searched and consumed. Simply making information available is not enough for modern audiences. That is why many people go online for news that is immediate and available for 24 hours a day. social media is the most powerful tool affecting the news consumption habits and the media landscape, which is most commonly used for searching and sorting the content in the Internet.

Considering the high consumption of social media worldwide, almost all media organizations are trying to use its potential. According to Newman and colleagues (2011), from 2011–2012 Facebook alone grew from 664 million to 836 million users attracting ordinary people, professionals and companies. The growth is permanent. Many industries, including news media, are integrating various opportunities that social media offer to keep old or attract new audiences. Internet and social network are seriously affecting televisions and how they operate. In case of their reporting, simply giving out the information for consumers to watch is not efficient. Content delivery process has been transformed (Hermes, 2010).

Different scholars argue that with the emergence of online media, the relevance of Agenda-Setting is being challenged. According to Berger & Freeman (2011), the media became personalized and the TV agenda is no longer uniform or transferrable.  If in the days of television, a consumer was automatically absorbing the news presented to him/her, now people do not want to wait for the evening newscasts at an appointed time anymore. Therefore, the audience is not viewed as a passive consumer, which raises the question of Agenda-Setting relevance to the new media.  “Agenda-Setting also needs a given amount of time for the media agenda to be absorbed and accepted as the public agenda. But in an online community of instantaneous communication, this also is open to discussion and may not exist” (Berger & Freeman, 2011, p.4).

All of these mentioned tendencies weaken the ability of television to transfer a specific agenda that will be perceived as a public agenda by the audiences. According to Berger & Freeman (2011), when this communication does not occur, the theory of Agenda-Setting is no longer functional.

The purpose of this research is to find out how social media changed the way television sets the public agenda. It will attempt to show whether the TV sgenda-setting is still functional in relation to its online platforms by looking at how the TV agenda and its social network correlate. This Study will further identify whether the mainstream media is powerful enough in guiding the audience what is newsworthy or whether they no longer have monopoly on telling people what to watch, listen, read or think about.  

The research is important because of its academic contribution and practical recommendations. In Georgia there are a few studies about the changes the social media brought to TV stations’ reporting and agenda setting practices. This research will increase the understanding of social media reporting habits in the 21st century.

In the following chapter, the literature about Agenda-Setting theory and its application to social media and today’s TV reporting is reviewed, followed by the research method description, findings, discussion and the conclusion.









Literature Review

Agenda-Setting Theory

In today’s world full of controversy and complexity it is not easy for society to deal with the huge information flowing towards them. The information is being filtered at different stages of its distribution, based on various factors, views and perceptions. According to Bernard Cohen (1963), “the world looks different to different people, depending not only on their personal interests, but also on the map that is drawn for them by the writers, editors, and publishers of the papers they read” (Baran & Davis, 2012, p. 294). Cohen’s opinion became the basis of what now is known as Agenda-Setting theory of mass media. Media don’t tell people what to think, but what to think about, according to the Agenda-Setting theory. The theory was first formulated by Maxwell. E. McCombs and Donald Show in 1972 (Scheufele, 2000). McCombs and Show suggested that the media sets public agenda”.

In their research carried out during the 1968 presidential elections in the USA, McCombs and interviewed 100 registered undecided voters. Their study confirmed that there was a strong correlation between the issues people thought were important and the content that the US media outlets were delivering to them. “Media appear to have exerted a considerable impact on voters’ judgements of what they considered the major issue of the campaign” (Scheufele, 2000, p. 304). In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality. Readers learn not only about a given issue, but how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position (Baran & Davis, 2012, p. 294). The only limitation of the research the scholars reported is that it is unclear whether people respond to the cues about the importance of certain issues in the media, or, on the contrary, media respond to audience’s assessment of news importance.

A study carried out by Shanto Iyengar and Donald Kinder (1987) concluded that “Americans’ view of their society and nation are powerfully shaped by the stories that appear on the evening news” (Baran & Davis, 2012, p. 295). During the experiment after seeing the newscast, peoples’ opinion about the most important problem for the country was being changed depending on the content shown to them. According to Baran & Davis (2012), Agenda-Setting effect also depends on the position of a story. During the experiment, Iyengar and Kinder found that people pay more attention to the lead stories because viewers are more concentrated in the beginning of the newscast and perceive lead story as the most newsworthy one.

Is media still powerful to set the public agenda in today’s era? –  This question linked numbers of different researchers to ponder whether the emergence of online media changed the standard model of Agenda -Setting. According to Skogerbo and colleagues (2016, p.194), “Tran (2014) argues that while Internet-related developments have not fundamentally altered the traditional understanding of Agenda-Setting theory, they change the complicated relationships through which the media agenda is built”. Meraz (2014) argues that user-generated content has influenced the media agenda but, herewith, the traditional media have retained most of their influence on the public. According to Skogerbo and colleagues (2016), “traditional media is no longer capable of leveraging complete media agenda-setting influence” (p.6).

 

Challenges of Television in Social Media Era

The mainstream media is still powerful but they no longer have a monopoly on the production and distribution of news (Newman et al, 2011). Nowadays individuals have opportunities to source the information, provide their own content and set their own agendas. Dutton termed this new platform as the fifth estate (Newman et al, 2011). This Fifth Estate is an independent source, offering information similar to the Fourth Estate but via social or other online networks. Existence of the fifth estate is a direct indication that the TV is no longer the main indicator for the audience to decide how much importance to attach to an issue from a large  amount of information at hand.

Broadcasting the information via television requires expensive equipment while a citizen has an access to a platform that is free and global. Anyone with a blog, cell phone or Facebook can be a reporter or an editor. The so called citizen journalists can disseminate the information and, in some cases, even break out the stories before the TV stations do. TVs have limited time to report, while social media can always be on air. Today we face “much more complicated media landscape where the ordinary citizen has the ability to control media technologies and tell their own stories in powerful, innovative and creative ways” (Alejandro, 2010, p.16). The mainstream media may have a considerable impact on people’s judgement of what they consider the major issue. But individuals reporting online offer diversity of opinions and are able to influence the public agenda at the same time. According to Berger & freeman (2011, p.16), “the very reason the time lag does not exist in new media is not only because the consumer is acting simultaneously with the producer, but the consumer is in fact also a producer of content, and therefore, of an agenda.” This concept first raises the question of Agenda-Setting application relevance. According to the theory, the public agenda is driven from the mainstream media agenda while today it is difficult to distinguish who is the producer and who is the consumer. According to Berger & freeman (2011), this blur results that anyone can produce the agenda and “it seems that there is no room for Agenda-Setting to be the theory that is explanatory of the phenomenon that occurs within the online world” (Berger & freeman, 2011, p.16)

Active audience theory also challenges the idea that people automatically perceive the media content as it is transferred. Individuals have the ability to interpret or even reject the media messages.   According to Berger & freeman (2011),”in relation to Agenda-Setting, this theory raises the point that even if the media does succeed in creating and imparting a unified agenda, it is not necessarily going to be accepted as fact by the audience” (p.7).

There are many cases when people using social network were the first to provide breaking news. When in January 2009, US Airways plane with 155 passengers crashed in River Hudson right is the center of the city, an ordinary citizen Jim Hanrahan broke this news on his Twitter account 15 minutes before the mainstream media. He just watched the crash and posted. China’s devastating earthquake of May 2008 was also first reported on Twitter by a blogger Robert Scoble. He broke the news about one hour before CNN or other major media outlets (Hodge, 2010).

According to Skogerbo et al (2016), online and social media emergence has resulted in a number of potential outlets where stories break up and flow. Skogerbo and colleagues argue that “the integration of social media and journalism may alter the power of sources and journalists to set the agenda for the news media, other political actors, or voters” (2016, p.192).

“When you take into account both the total reach of a site and the proportion of users who get news on the site, Facebook is the obvious news powerhouse among the social media sites. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults use the site, and half of those users get news there — amounting to 30% of the general population (Anderson & Caumont, 2014).

The traditional television scrambled to catch up and cope with new needs and tastes of audiences. TV channels extended their possibilities to interact with the viewers by integrating social media in their everyday reporting. “They reach their viewers in any location rather than in front of the standard television” (Hermes, 2013, p.19). In order to provide the viewers with the latest news, TV stations are widely using social networks like Twitter or Facebook. This is a possibility for televisions to stay dominant, meet customer needs and set the agenda (Alejandro, 2010).

Social media became a powerful newsgathering platform for TV stations and it helped the mainstream media to set the agenda in a more controversial and interesting way. Moreover, social media is a more powerful way of searching for more diverse materials and discovering respondents regardless of their location, which helps localize the international news. Anne McNamara, reporter for WGME TV in Portland, USA, used social media platforms to find local people after the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011. She searched for people on Twitter and Facebook (Brooks, 2011).

In the reverse flow of information, from audiences to professional media organizations, the ordinary people participate in newsgathering and news circulation from various events before TV stations get a crew in place. According to the former head of global news for the BBC Richard Sambrook, “On July 7, 2005, within six hours of the London bombings, the BBC received more than 1000 photographs, 20 pieces of amateur video, 4000 text messages and 20000 emails” (Alejandro, 2010, p. 14).

According to Alejandro (2010), using social media also helps TV stations to broaden their audience reach. Information posted in social networks moves quickly among a large group of people and not just those watching TV at certain time (Hermes, 2013).

While using social media, audience’s interaction with TV stations is simultaneously growing. There was always the time lag between the production of the TV news and the public response to it but the interactive features the media has integrated today (Facebook, Twitter…) results the direct reaction of the audience. When information is available in social media, audience can directly evaluate it – comment, share or like. TV stations can use these feedbacks efficiently and see what people care about. From this point, people can somehow play a role in agenda setting of TV stations, but it still depends on a good will of particular media outlet to consider the feedback or not (Alejandro, 2010).

 

TV and Inter-Media Agenda-Setting

The idea of the inter-media Agenda-Setting is also related to this discussion. This concept examines the relationship among different media. As formed by Wahl-Jorgensen & Hanitzsch (2009), this is an example of “high degree of correspondence among different media outlets” demonstrated elite news organizations’ ability to make certain issues more important than others, and therefore directed the coverage of news media among the varying news outlets” (p.148).

 Even though traditional television is fragmented and individuals have their favorite channels and programs, consumers do not have much possibility to sort the information that the source offers. TV stations have integrated social networks in their everyday reporting first for inter-media Agenda-Setting. On the other hand, they meet the customers’ needs who want real-time information sorted on their own. But even these platforms mean different things to different people. These factors have led different scholars to the creation of the Agenda-Melding hypothesis, which is a recent addition to the discourse of Agenda-Setting. McCombs (2004) argues that “it focuses on the personal agendas of individuals vis á vis their communities and group affiliations” (Berger & Freeman, 2011, p.16). Under this hypothesis, when individuals join the groups, they drop their own agenda and get assimilated to the group’s one.

For example, social network users follow different media outlets’ pages on Facebook, considering their interests.  They feel they are free to sort and consume the information they want and set their own agenda. But following these media outlets’ pages may still mean joining the group and sharing their agenda. According to Berger & Freeman (2011), “within these virtual groups, individuals are producing new content while being the consumers of said content” (p.16).

According to Sweetser and colleagues (2008), Wanta and Cho (2004) concluded that “internet use can both inhibit and enhance Agenda-Setting effects” (Sweester et al, 2008, p.201). Individuals who go online for longer period of time, feel more free to self-select the sources and inhibit the media agenda. On the contrary, consumers who go online motivated to search for the information, go to the web sites and pages that reinforce the media agenda and enhance the Agenda-Setting process.

 

TV and Social Media Landscape in Georgia

Television is the most popular medium in Georgia, “with 95 percent of Georgians getting their political news via television” (Mikashavidze, 2010). The media environment is highly politicized. The main national TVs tend to back the government, but the most watched and most commercially successful TV station, Rustavi-2, is an outspoken critic of the current Georgian Dream coalition. Four stations - Georgian Public Broadcaster, Imedi, Rustavi 2 and Ajara broadcast nationwide.  “Regional stations have limited programming, and have less local viewership than national channels” (Mikashavidze, 2010).

News coverage on all national stations lacks balance and neutrality.  As Freedom House observed, “the broadcast media reflect the quality of the country’s political debate, which is sorely lacking in thoughtful discussion of public policy” (2009). Georgia lacks transparency in private ownership TV stations. “The creation of really independent media with strong safeguards against owner interference is a key challenge, says Reporters Without Borders” (Mikashavidze, 2010)

There are almost 2.2 million internet users in Georgia and there is no censorship of online content. The most popular online platform is www.myvideo.ge, which is a video sharing platform that also offers live streaming of over 50 TV channels with a three-month archive. Greater online access has led to a growth in social media use. Facebook is Georgia's most popular web network, while Forum.ge is a widely-used chat forum. Twitter has yet to establish a major foothold.  There is a low public awareness of blogs but Tbilisi has growing blog community. According to Mikashavidze (2010), most blogs are personal diaries, creative work or professional pages. 

Almost all the TV stations in Georgia have gone online in the past 2 decades. They have their web-sites as well as active accounts in social network. Georgian television stations have integrated social media in their everyday reporting and news-gathering process and offer in order to raise public awareness and stay dominant over the news production. This style of reporting was adopted by the Georgian television Rustavi2 to report the court case over the claims on ownership of the station. During the court sessions in October 2015, Facebook page offered interviews and fragments from the court sessions being updated continuously. Posting details of the case allowed Rustavi2 to share some of the secondary information that could be interesting for the audience but could not be placed in the newscast.




Research Questions

In order to conduct the research about the correlation of the TV and social media agendas in Georgia several research questions were formed:

  • RQ1: Which themes are prominent in the TV evening newscast? Which themes are prominent on TV channel’s Facebook page?

 

  • RQ2: How do the TV channel’s news from the evening newscast and Facebook page correlate? How many news from the newscast and Facebook page of the TV channel coincided and how many times?

 

  • RQ3: News of which themes coincided from the TV channel’s newscast and Facebook page?

 

Methodology

The aim of the study is to demonstrate how social media can influence the way Georgian televisions set the agenda and how the TV agenda is correlated with the agenda of social media users. For this, the quantitative content analysis was applied. This study observed the agendas of 2 TV channels and compared them with the top stories on the Facebook pages of those TVs. The Facebook pages were examined according to the number of users’ reactions, comments and shares.

The sample frame for the research was the main everyday evening newscasts of TV channels Rustavi2 (Kurieri at 21:00.) and ImediTV (Kronika at 20:00) and their Facebook pages respectively. Rustavi2 and Imedi TV were chosen as the channels with the highest shares in Georgia according to the results the TVMR Ge, Nielsen Television Audience Measurement's official licensee that continuously delivers measurement results to the Georgian TV market. Herewith, The National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) study analyzing public attitudes in Georgia, reveals that 77% of surveyed people name Rustavi2 as the main source of information, while 14% get first news from Imedi. At the same time, 36% of the people surveyed in the same study trust Rustavi2 most for accurate info on foreign policy, while 28% perceive Imedi as the most trustful source of similar news. As for the social network, thy study focused on Facebook as it is the most popular social network adapted by TV channels in the country.

Systematic random sampling was used to collect relevant data from the TVs’ newscasts and their Facebook pages. For this, the content of channels’ newscasts and Facebook pages were observed every 2nd day during the time period of 03.04.2017 – 29.04.2017 as it was the most accessible time to observe. Thus, the study analyzed 14 newscasts and Facebook page activities for 14 days. For each day, top 10 stories of the TV newscast were identified - further named as “TV top10”. The selection of the TV top10 was made according to their position in the program, TV top 10 of the same TV channel’s Facebook page were also identified by counting public’s reactions, shares and comments. More precisely, the 10 news with the most reactions were perceived as top 10 stories in the context of reactions – further named as “FB top10”. The same approach was used in the cases of shares and comments. As the number of reactions was more compared with the shares and comments, the analysis used only this data for further research. By analyzing 140 stories from each TV channel and 140 stories from their Facebook pages and by comparing top 10 stories of two different platforms, the study observed whether TV agenda meets the agenda in its social network.  Additionally, this study identified the news themes based on the topics TVs covered or their Facebook pages reported: Politics, Crime, Society, Entertainment, Interesting Facts and Sport. The themes which were prevalent in TV Top10 each day were counted. This observation identified the “leading theme” of the newscast. Then the study counted which themes were dominant as leading themes among 14 newscasts. The same on Facebook pages of ImediTV and Rustavi2 was analyzed. The study counted the themes which received most reactions ten times during the day. The themes that were observed more as the leading theme during those 14 days were also identified.

During the second phase the study analyzed which themes were dominant in top 3 news of each platform. As for the TV, this work observed 14 newscasts of each TV channel and analyzed what themes were on the first three positions.  Later, themes that were more among the 42 stories reported as top 3 news during14 days were counted. (14*3=42). The study also analyzed themes of top 3 news on Facebook pages of Rustavi2 and ImediTV. Themes that were more among the 42 stories reported as FB top3 on each of 14 days were also counted.

The study identified the number of news from TV top10 and its FB top10 that coincided. More precisely, the study aimed to reveal how many news were the same in two agendas of one TV channel. This research also identified the number of stories that coincided during 14 days totally. Themes of these news were also analyzed.

This study also observed the number of times top1 story of the TV newscast gets among top 10 stories of Facebook page and on which place. This was also observed vise-versa – how many times FB top1 story gets among TV top10 and on which place.

Findings

ImediTV

 

This research was aimed at finding out how social media changed the way television sets the public agenda. In response to the RQ1, this study revealed that in case of ImediTV’s evening program Kronika, the leading theme mostly was politics. From 14 leading themes observed in 14 newscasts, 10 were about politics (72%). News about society takes the second place as it was identified as a leading theme for 3 times. crime took a leading position just once. During 7 days out of 14, leading themes on Facebook page of ImediTV were about society (50%). Politics appeared as a leading theme 4 times, representing almost 29% of the total. Interesting facts, sport and entertainment took leading positions just once.

Table 1. leading themes in ImediTV newscast and its Facebook page.


Leading themes in ImediTV newscast

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Politics

10 days

71,5%

Society

3 days

21,4%

Crime

1day

7,1%

Total:14 days


Leading themes in ImediTV Facebook

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Society

7 days

50%

Politics

4 days

28,6%

Interesting facts

1day

7,13%

Sport

1day

7,13%

Entertainment

1day

7,13%

Total:14 days

 

The study also revealed what themes were mostly seen in top 3 news on different platforms of ImediTV. From 42 reports (top 3 news of 14 newscasts) 26 were about politics (62%). 9 appeared to be about crime, 4 about the world and 3 about society. Most news on ImediTV’s FB top3 were about society (19 stories, 42%). Politics and entertainment were on the second place, appearing for 6-6 times in FB top3. 5 news were about interesting facts, 3 about sport, 2 about crime and the last one about the world issues.  



Table 2. Top 3 news themes in ImediTV newscast and its Facebook page.


Top3 news themes in ImediTV newscast

TV Top3 theme

How many times

%

Politics

26 news

62%

Crime

9 news

21,4%

World

4 news

9,5%

Society

3 news

7,1%

Total: 42 news, (TV top3 during 14 days)


Top3 news themes on ImediTV Facebook

FB top3 theme

How many times

%

Society

19 news

45,2%

Politics

6 news

14,3%

Entertainment

6 news

14,3%

Interesting facts

5 news

11,9%

Sport

3 news

7,1%

Crime

2 news

4,8%

World

1 news

2,4%

Total: 42 news (FB top3 during 14 days)

 

In response to the RQ2, this study observed the news on ImediTV’s Facebook and in Kronika on the same day and revealed how many of them coincided. On 7 days 2 reports from TV top10 and FB top10 were the same. During 4 days nothing coincided.  There were 2 days when one news reported among TV top10 was noticed in FB top10 and one day when three news coincided.

Table 3. Number of coincided news from ImediTV newscast and its Facebook page.

Number of coincided news

Number of days

2 news

7 days

Nothing coincided

4 days

1 news

2 days

3 news

1 day

 

Total number of days: 14

 

In response to the RQ3, the research also observed the themes of similar news on different platforms of ImediTV. During 14 days, themes coincided 19 times. 52% of them were political while the rest 48% of stories were about the society.

 

Table 4. Themes of coincided news from ImediTV newscast and its Facebook page.

Theme

How many news

%

Politics

10 news

52%

Society

9 news

48%

Total: 19 news

 

The study also observed how often TV top1 news was among FB top10. For ImediTV, on 10 days TVtop1 was not noticed among FB top10 (71%). There was just one case when TV top1 and FB top1 coincided. All the news appearing among FB top10 were about politics.

Table 5. ImediTV TV top1 news among ImediTV FB top10 news.

TV top1 among FB top10 (ImediTV)

Total: 14 days

How many times

On which place

10

Was not identified at all

2

6th

1

1st

1

5th

 

When analyzed vise-versa, on 11 days FB top1 was never seen among TV top10 (78%).All coincided news were about society.

Table 6. ImediTV FB top1 news among ImediTV TV top10 news.

FB top1 among TV top10 (ImediTV)

Total: 14 days

How many times

On which place

11

Was not identified at all

1

1st

1

4th

1

6th

 

Rustavi2

 

In response to the RQ1, this study revealed that in the case of Rustavi2’s Kurieri, from analyzed 14 leading themes, 12 were political (≈86%). Crime and society – each was discovered as a leading theme in one day’s newscast. In case of Rustavi2’s Facebook page, 50% of the leading themes were about Entertainment. During 3 days, political stories were mostly represented in FB top10. Society appeared as the leading theme 2 times, interesting facts and sport – once.

Table 7. Leading themes in Rustavi2 newscast and its Facebook page.


Leading themes in Rustavi2 newscast

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Politics

12 days

85,5%

Society

1 day

7,1%

Crime

1 day

7,1%

Total:14 days


Leading themes on Rustavi2 Facebook

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Entertainment

7 days

50%

Politics

3 days

21,4%

Society

2 days

14,4%

Interesting facts

1 day

7,1%

Sport

1 day

7,1%

Total: 14 days

 

The study also revealed those themes which were mostly seen in top 3 news on different platforms of Rustavi2. Majority from 42 top3 news reported in Kurieri were political (31 stories, 74%). Crime took the second place with 6 stories and left the third and fourth places for the news about society and world. In case of Rustavi2’s Facebook page, 12 stories (28%) from 42 were about society and 9 stories (21%) were about entertainment. 8 news covered crime while 7 were related to politics. Stories about interesting facts, sport and world took the last three places.




Table 8. Top 3 news themes in Rustavi2 newscast and its Facebook page.


Top3 news themes in Rustavi2 newscast

TV Top3 theme

How many times

%

Politics

31

73,8%

Crime

6

14,3%

Society

3

7,1%

World

2

4,8%

Total: 42 news, (TV top3 during 14 days)


Top3 news themes on Rustav2 Facebook

FB top3 theme

How many times

%

Society

12

28,7%

Entertainment

9

21,3%

Crime

8

19%

Politics

7

16,7%

Interesting facts

3

7,1%

Sport

2

4,8%

World

1

2,4%

Total: 42 news (FB top3 during 14 days)

 

In response to the RQ2, he study observed the news on Rustavi2’s Facebook and in Kurieri on the same day and revealed how many of them coincided. On 7 days, 3 news from top10 reports of Rustavi2’s evening newscast and its FB top10 coincided. There were 3 days when 2 news on different platforms were the same and 2 days when nothing was similar.

Table 9. Number of coincided news from Rustavi2 newscast and its Facebook page.

Number of coincided news

Number of days

3 news

7 days

2 news

3 days

Nothing coincided

2 days

1 news

1 day

4 news

1 day

 

Total number of days: 14

 

In response to the RQ3, the research also observed the themes of similar news on different platforms of one media outlet. In Rustavi2’s case, from 32 coincided themes, 11 were political, 8 were about crime, 6 about society, 4 about world, 2 about interesting facts and 1 about sport.

Table 10. Themes of coincided news from Rustavi2 newscast and its Facebook page.

Theme

How many news

%

Politics

11 news

34,375%

Crime

8 news

25%

Society

6 news

18,75%

World

4 news

12,5%

Interesting facts

2 news

6,25%

Sport

1news

3,125%

Total: 32 news

 

The study also observed how often TV top1 news was among FB top10. As for Rustavi2, in half of the cases TV top1 news did not appear among FB top10. In the rest of the cases, for a single time TV top1 was on the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 9th places in FB top10. There was just one case when TV top1 and FB top1 coincided.  Approximately 71% of TV top1 stories appearing in FB top10 were about politics, rest two were about society and crime.

Table 11. Rustavi2 TV top1 news among Rustavi2 FB top10 news.

TV top1 among FB top10 (Rustavi2)

Total: 14 days

How many times

On which place

7

Was not identified at all

1

1st

1

2nd

1

4th

1

5th

1

6th

1

8th

1

9th

 

When analyzed reversely, 57% of FB top1 news did not appear among the TV top10 stories of Rustavi2’s evening newscast. For a single time, it was reported on the 1st, 10th, 9th and 7th places in the newscast and twice as the 2nd. As for the themes of coincided news, no special tendency was observed. Two of them were about politics, one about society, crime, sport and interesting facts.

Table 12. Rustavi2 FB top1 news among Rustavi2 TV top10 news.

FB top1 among TV top10 (Rustavi2)

Total: 14 days

How many times

On which place

8

Was not identified at all

2

2nd

1

1st

1

7th

1

9th

1

10th















Discussion/Analysis

In case of leading themes, Rustavi2 and ImediTV match one another. As observed in the study, in both TV channels’ newscasts three themes appeared as leading -  politics, society and crime. Majority of the leading themes observed in Kurieri and Kronika were about politics. We may assume that the TV agenda of Rustavi2 and ImediTV are similar and they are mainly focused on political news distribution.

Table 13. Leading themes in ImediTV and Rustavi2 newscasts.


Leading themes in ImediTV newscast

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Politics

10 days

71,5%

Society

3 days

21,4%

Crime

1day

7,1%

Total:14 days


Leading themes in Rustavi2 newscast

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Politics

12 days

85,5%

Society

1 day

7,1%

Crime

1 day

7,1%

Total:14 days

 

TV channels show difference on their Facebook pages. Here leading themes do not coincide. While in majority of cases society appeared as a leading theme on ImediTV’s Facebook page, it was noticed just twice among the leading themes in Rustavi2’s social network. Rustavi2’s leading theme mostly was entertainment, observed just once in ImediTv’s case. The study shows that the two TV channels have different types of audience engagement on their Facebook pages. ImediTV’s Facebook followers appear to be mostly interested in the stories highlighting society issues, while Rustavi2 followers react more to entertainment.

Table 14. Leading themes on ImediTV and Rustavi2 Facebook pages.


Leading themes in ImediTV Facebook

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Society

7 days

50%

Politics

4 days

28,6%

Interesting facts

1day

7,13%

Sport

1day

7,13%

Entertainment

1day

7,13%

Total:14 days


Leading themes on Rustavi2 Facebook

Leading theme

Frequency

%

Entertainment

7 days

50%

Politics

3 days

21,4%

Society

2 days

14,4%

Interesting facts

1 day

7,1%

Sport

1 day

7,1%

Total: 14 days

 

ImediTV’s Facebook and newscast leading themes do not coincide. If TV agenda is made up of mostly political news, Facebook followers are mostly interested with society. This does not mean that politics is ignored in social network, but it is observed as leading just in about 29% of days. Similar trend is observed in Rustavi2’s case. Political news that mainly leads the newscast of the day is a leading theme on Facebook in about 21% of days. And even more, entertainment that mostly appears as leading on Rustavi2’s Facebook page, is never represented as leading in the newscast.

Imedi TV and Rustavi2’s similar TV agenda is proved with the analysis of top3 stories. The news about politics represent the majority of 42 top3 stories reported during 14 days on each TV channel. This tendency coincides on their Facebook as well. Majority of the users reacted to the content about society. Entertainment is the second most reacted in social network. The research also shows that, for both TV channels, there is more diversity in FB top3 than in their TV top3.

Table 15. Top3 news themes in ImediTV and Rustavi2 newscasts.


Top3 news themes in ImediTV newscast

TV Top3 theme

How many times

%

Politics

26 news

62%

Crime

9 news

21,4%

World

4 news

9,5%

Society

3 news

7,1%

Total: 42 news, (TV top3 during 14 days)


Top3 news themes in Rustavi2 newscast

TV Top3 theme

How many times

%

Politics

31

73,8%

Crime

6

14,3%

Society

3

7,1%

World

2

4,8%

Total: 42 news, (TV top3 during 14 days)










Table 16. Top3 news themes on ImediTV and Rustavi2 Facebook pages.


Top3 news themes on ImediTV Facebook

FB top3 theme

How many times

%

Society

19 news

45,2%

Politics

6 news

14,3%

Entertainment

6 news

14,3%

Interesting facts

5 news

11,9%

Sport

3 news

7,1%

Crime

2 news

4,8%

World

1 news

2,4%

Total: 42 news (FB top3 during 14 days)


Top3 news themes on Rustav2 Facebook

FB top3 theme

How many times

%

Society

12

28,7%

Entertainment

9

21,3%

Crime

8

19%

Politics

7

16,7%

Interesting facts

3

7,1%

Sport

2

4,8%

World

1

2,4%

Total: 42 news (FB top3 during 14 days)

 

The study analyzed which themes of FB top3 coincide with TV top3. If, in case of ImediTV, society represent the majority of FB top3 news list. This theme took the last place in the similar list of the newscast. Politics taking the first place among 42 top3 news from 14 ImediTV evening programs, is the second important theme on the Facebook. Crime representing the second position in TV top3 list is observed in FB similar list just twice. In case of Rustavi2, the society is mostly noticed among FB top3, appeared in the TV top3 list just for three times. And entertainment which takes the second position is never observed among 42 top3 news. Politics that lead the TV top3 list more or less appears in FB top3. Crime is also equally represented on two different platforms. As for the FB top3 and TV top3 coincidence, the study does not reveal any specific tendencies.

The study also analyzed the number of news from Top10 on Facebook and in the newscast were the same each day. Even though all the news reported in the evening program directly appear on Facebook page as well, not many news take place in both agendas at one time. Mainly 2 news used to be the same in case of ImediTV and 3 news in case of Rustavi2.

The analysis of coincided news themes shows that the audience of Facebook still follows the themes that are reported in the newscasts. Majority of coincided news in both TV channels’ cases are about politics or society.

While analyzing FB Top1 and TV top1 news, the study discovered important findings. From observed 14 newscasts, 10 TV top1 of ImediTV did not appear among 10 top stories having most reactions on Facebook (71%). If they appeared, their positions were not leading in and they all were around politics. One exception was when FB top1 and TV top1 coincided. In this case there was a high public interest around the issue – Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem. Herewith, 11 from 14 FB top1 stories observed did not appear among TV top10 stories reported in the newscasts (78%). Another important finding is that 100% of FB top1 news that appeared among TV top stories were about society.

A similar tendency is noticed in case of Rustavi2 as well. TV top1 news mainly are not discovered among FB top10. Among those discovered, news about politics represent the majority. In terms of FB top1 news appearing among TV top10 stories, no special tendency is observed. In Rustavi2’s case, FB top1 coincided with TV top1 just once and the issue was of high public interest as well – Russia has moved the border with 300 meters in the village Khurcha.

First stories in the agenda are perceived as the most newsworthy. The results of the study indicate that in case of both TV channels the TV agenda’s priorities are mostly different from FB agenda’s.  When the story deemed as the most important by the newscast producers appears in the Facebook top10 just for 4 or 6 times out of 14, we may assume that the social media audience does not seem to follow the TV agenda any more. In most cases Facebook followers do not pay attention on the TV order of news and they create their own agenda based on personal interests.

Limitations

The study perceived the people reacting to Facebook posts on TV channel’s Facebook pages as the users creating Facebook agenda. The number of Likes the FB post receives depends on customers, therefore there might exist Facebook users who see the post but do not react to it. This fact should be taken into consideration. Herewith, the study observed 2 TV channels that might not be enough for generalizing the findings for the whole country.

Conclusion

According to the Agenda-Setting theory, news media can influence the audiences in deciding what to consider newsworthy. But this theory is hard to apply to non-traditional media or social media since the users are now empowered to consume the content they choose from a wide variety of news sources. The users mainly choose what to pay attention to, they can categorize the information based on personal interests and avoid reading certain material.

This study found that all the news from the newscasts were posted in their social media pages by both TV channels. Despite this, TV agenda still does not coincide with the Facebook agenda. The study demonstrated that Rustavi2 and ImediTV try to establish their agendas in social networks as well and social network users do not seem to follow it; Facebook followers choose what to watch on their personal gadgets and set their own agenda which is different from TV’s agenda. TV sets the agenda via the newscast but the social media audience does not perceive it as the standard to follow. The study observed that the Agenda-Setting theory is hard to apply to social media and TVs are no more powerful to point out to the audience what is important or newsworthy.

On the other hand, the users follow the themes that the TVs covers. The stories from TV agenda and its Facebook page are mainly different but they still are focused on the same themes. Editors no longer dictate to the audience what to think about but they may dictate towards which direction to look. Furthermore, the users seem to follow the mainstream media by following their accounts in social media. As TV channels are using social media strategically to maintain and enhance their communicative power, the users react to their posts and presumably get under editorial agenda.






 

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