Regaining control: Citizens following politicians on social media.

  • Media and public relations
  • Government/Policy
  • Public lectures/seminars
  • Staff Events
  • Student Events
  • NMRC
Event Image

The frenetic tweeting of US president Donald Trump and his public disdain for the mainstream news media has led to much debate about the impact of social media on political discourse. While there has been significant criticism by commentators of his social media strategy, at the time of writing this paper @realDonaldTrump had 32.4 million followers. Though there is a burgeoning body of research focussed on the media strategies used by populist politicians there is less research into the citizens who choose to follow them and why.

Additional Information

This paper presents quantitative data from six countries involved in the 2017 Reuters Digital News Report survey, in which approximately 2000 respondents in each country were asked if and why they followed politicians and political parties on social media. The data revealed the majority of those who follow politicians in the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Ireland and Australia have a high interest in news and consider themselves to have political efficacy. The main reason for following was a strong preference to hear directly from the politician or party rather than have the information filtered by others. Drawing on contemporary gatekeeping theory this working paper argues the data point to a desire by these citizens to have more control over the political information they consume and highlights a shift from the traditional conception of then journalist as gatekeeper to incorporate citizens and politicians as new filters in the digital communication landscape. Biography Dr Caroline Fisher is an Assistant Professor in journalism at the University of Canberra. She began teaching and researching in journalism and political communication at UC in 2014. In 2017 she took on the role of course convenor for the journalism programme. Caroline Fisher completed her PhD in 2014 which examined the career transition between journalism and parliamentary media advising. Prior to academia she was a reporter, presenter and producer for ABC News and Radio National; and, spent three years as a ministerial media adviser to Anna Bligh in the Queensland government.