The Use of Twitter during the UK Riots 2011: A Regional Newspaper Journalists Opinion
This dissertation is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of a degree in Journalism or International Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University.
Name: Joe Lanigan-Smith
Course: Journalism BA Honours
Supervisor: Hazel Barrett
Pg10 : Lit Review
Pg15 : Methodology
Pg23: Data analysis and discussion
Pg 32: Conclusion
Twitter has 140 million active users, with 340 million tweets being sent out on a daily basis (Twitter, 2012). This dissertation focuses on the uses of Twitter during the riots of 2011 and the opinion of regional newspaper journalists who reported on them. All participants of this study were active reporters during the disturbances in August 2011. This study offers an in-depth overview of how those journalists used Twitter in the process of newsgathering and promoting their articles. This article also highlights a series of suggestions for more research into the uses of Twitter in journalism. Through the use of interviews with journalists present during the riots the results of this study showed that Twitter was extremely useful to the all the journalists who took part in this study.
The riots of August 2011 were something that this country did not seeing coming and arguably we weren’t prepared for. The scale of the violence over those four nights between August 6th and 10th was widespread across major cities up and down the country. According to the Daily Mirror the start of the riots occurred when a policeman apparently shoved a small girl to the ground after he threw a rock at them (Parsons, 2011). Although many other observers believe that the riots actually started because of the shooting of alleged gangster, Mark Duggan by Police, following reports that he was brandishing a gun. Close friends and family or Mr Duggan have always denied that he was involved in gang life. Following on from this there were peaceful protests in Tottenham against what locals perceived as a race issue with police, but these quickly turned into uncontrollable disturbances with widespread looting and rioting becoming commonplace up and down the country. Overnight cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool became engulfed in lawlessness as police struggled to regain control. There were calls for the army to be brought in but this never materialized and in the end it took over four nights to restore law and order to the streets of the UK. The violence and looting which had taken place were completely unheard of and unprecedented in this country and the question of ‘how did this happen?’ and ‘will this happen again?’ raged in the public domain. There was much talk of a supposed breakdown in family life in the homes of the rioters, parents who had simply let their children roam free to cause havoc and many newspapers chose to blame the problems on ‘broken Britain’. Widespread anger and frustration at the way in which police engaged with communities was a significant reason why the summer riots took place according to a study by the Guardian (Lewis et al 2011). The newspapers of Britain reported on every aspect of the riots and more often than not they were front page news. But how did journalists gather the relevant information during those testing times of reporting? What techniques did they employ that was different to conventional forms of news gathering? This dissertation will explore how journalists used social media websites such as Twitter to their advantage when it came to reporting the riots and how news organisations use them as a platform for their content, as well as a new way of engaging with audiences. The research question that this study will attempt to answer is whether or not social media websites such as Twitter played any kind of role in helping regional journalists to report the UK...
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