Politics Twitter — Snurb, 2 August 2012
ATNIX: Australian Twitter News Index, Week 30/2012

Another week, another ATNIX – and the last one for a while that I have to write from a hotel room while travelling in Germany. This is also the last mostly pre-Olympic ATNIX, covering the week of 23-29 July 2012; next week we’ll see whether and how the increased focus on sports during these weeks affects the sharing of (normally largely political) news on Twitter in Australia. In the period covered in this edition of ATNIX, only the final, weekend days already incorporated Games coverage – but we’ve already seen that the weekend is traditionally a slow news period, so it’s difficult to read anything into this week’s data yet.

Standard background information: this analysis is based on tracking all tweets which contain links pointing to the URLs of a large selection of leading Australian news and opinion sites. For technical reasons, it does not contain ‘button’ retweets, but manual retweets (“RT @user …”) are included. Datasets for those sites which cover more than just news and opinion (abc.net.au, sbs.com.au, ninemsn.com.au) are filtered to exclude irrelevant sections of those sites (e.g. abc.net.au/tv, catchup.ninemsn.com.au). For our analysis of ‘opinion’ link sharing, we include only those sub-sections of mainstream sites which contain opinion and commentary (e.g. abc.net.au/unleashed, articles on theaustralian.com.au which include ‘/opinion’ in the URL), and compare them with dedicated opinion and commentary sites.

See the posts tagged ‘ATNIX’ on this site for a full collection of previous results.

ATNIX Week 30: 23-29 July 2012

The total volume of tweets with links to our group of sites this week is right on track again – we captured a total of just over 153,000 messages. And the leaderboard remains largely stable as well – except for (the news-related sections of) nineMSN, which leapfrogs the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph this week:


No surprise given the fact that Channel Nine is the Australian licencee for the Olympics Games broadcast, you might think – the increased prominence of the nineMSN site is likely to be due to the growing anticipation of the London 2012 opening, right? Well, that’s what I thought, too – but I was wrong: the 4,500 more tweets containing links to nineMSN this week were due entirely to a story about a group of four fans of the teen band One Direction who feel the band no longer cares about its fans, and burnt their concert tickets. Predictably, the story went viral about the highly social media-active One Direction fan community – and brought a whole new audience to nineMSN (though largely from outside Australia, I would guess). In fact, not to be completely outdone, news.com.au had its own pocket-size teen frenzy this week: it gained an additional 1,100 tweets from a brief story profiling five-piece Melbourne boy band The Janoskians. (Both those stories strategically placed the word ‘direction’ in their titles, incidentally – search engine optimisation is alive and well in Australian news sites.)

Meanwhile, the nearly 18,600 tweets containing links to opinion and commentary sites and sections were distributed across our sites as follows:


No real movement at the top of the leaderboard – The Age’s opinion pages and Crikey remain neck and neck, but overall the four top sites are relatively stable. The Australian’s paywall-handicapped opinion section put in a strong showing this week, while the ABC’s The Drum (or those of its articles which are hosted under the /unleashed path) put in a somewhat less impressive showing. Overall, though, this was another week in which none of the opinion sites stood out exceptionally much.

On to the day-to-day patterns – first, for news:


Here, the One Direction feeding frenzy at nineMSN on Thursday and Friday stands out especially well (as a sharp spike in the pink line on 26/27 July), as does the Janoskians bump for news.com.au on the same days (a less pronounced rise above the average level of the purple line). We can also note a strong weekday showing for ABC news content, before the customary weekend slump.

Opinion and commentary data produce the following picture:


Generally, another relatively non-descript week for commentary. The Conversation puts in another fairly strong showing (which is spread across a wide range of stories, rather than being due to any one especially strong piece), and there’s a marked spike for The Age’s opinion section on 26 July which is similarly the combined result of a strange story about a freelance reporter sacked by ASIO, a piece by Michelle Grattan on the NDIS discussion, an article about the Coalition’s stance on the Gonski reforms, and a bunch of other stories. Individually, each of these would have resulted only in a small bump; together, they generate a more sizeable spike and propel The Age to the top of the opinion leaderboard on Thursday.

See you next week – back in Brisbane…

About the Author

Dr Axel Bruns leads the QUT Social Media Research Group. He is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Bruns is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008) and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of Twitter and Society, A Companion to New Media Dynamics and Uses of Blogs (2006). He is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. His research Website is at snurb.info, and he tweets as @snurb_dot_info.

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