Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Crossing the Line between News and the Business of News: Exploring Journalists’ Use of Twitter

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Abstract:  Anglo-American journalism has typically drawn a firm dividing line between those who report the news and those who run the business of news. This boundary, often referred to in the West as a ‘Chinese Wall’, is designed to uphold the independence of journalists from commercial interests or the whims of news proprietors. But does this separation still exist in today’s age of social media and at a time when news revenues are under unprecedented pressure? This article focuses on Twitter, now a widely used tool in the newsroom, analysing the Twitter output of 10 UK political correspondents during the busy party conference season. It examines how they promote their own stories or ‘personal brand’ and whether they are stepping over a once forbidden line, blurring the boundary between news and the business. The research is complemented by interviews with political correspondents and analysis of editorial codes of practice on the use of social media. It draws on a conceptual framework of boundary work (Carlson & Lewis, 2015) to pose the question whether such practice has now become accepted and normalised. The findings suggest that the 10 political correspondents are highly individualistic in their use of Twitter but all have embraced its use to promote their own work plus that of colleagues both inside their own organisation and those working for rival news outlets. Their acceptance of Twitter as a tool for self-promotion and branding suggests that in this area of reporting the practice has become normalised and the wall has been breached.

Keywords:  boundary work; business; journalism; social media; Twitter


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© Stephen Jukes. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.