News Media's Rhetoric on Facebook
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHågvar YB. News Media's Rhetoric on Facebook. Journalism Practice. 2019:1-20 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2019.1577163
While Facebook is an important distribution channel for today’s media houses, there is a lack of research on how news outlets choose to present their stories in social media. The present study aims to narrow this gap by analysing two weeks of Facebook updates by the Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet and the public-service broadcaster NRK and comparing them to the corresponding stories on their news sites. An important objective is to uncover if and how the Facebook updates depart from established text norms for online papers. The method is triangulated. A quantitative content analysis reveals that newsrooms tend to utilize a wider range of speech acts when writing presentations specifically for Facebook. A follow-up qualitative analysis identifies five rhetorical strategies for unique promo texts on Facebook: adding emojis, posing questions, making requests, expressing emotions and stating subjective points of view. Qualitative interviews with responsible journalists confirm that these strategies are more common the less controversial the stories are. However, the newsrooms have few explicit guidelines for when it is acceptable to transgress traditional journalistic text norms. The findings are summarized in a model that connects the continuum of decreasing story controversy to a corresponding continuum of increasingly interpretative and subjective rhetoric.