The hashtag conundrum: how should journalists negotiate public and private on social media?

Have a heart - Sanctuary rally #LetThemStay Melbourne. Photo by Takver, Flickr

Have a heart – Sanctuary rally #LetThemStay Melbourne. Photo by Takver, Flickr

Journalistic objectivity has come under the spotlight as debate rages over a recent High Court decision that ruled that offshore processing of asylum seekers is legal.

This is no doubt an emotionally charged debate, and the way Australia deals with asylum seekers has been under scrutiny for some time. For journalists working on the story, it can create a conundrum – particularly if they have a strong personal view on the issue.
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ATNIX: Australian Twitter News Index, November/December 2015

The Australian Twitter News Index for 2015 concludes with a double helping that covers both November and December – a time when the sharing of news stories on Twitter usually begins its slow decline towards the holiday season. These patterns are sustained in 2015 as well, although the drop-off in news engagement is more pronounced for some sites than for others: stories by Twitter market leaders ABC News and Sydney Morning Herald are shared considerably less in the weeks before and after Christmas, while third-placed source news.com.au experiences fairly little variation from week to week.
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#returnbull: How Twitter Reacted to the Latest Leadership Spill

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Australian Parliament House. Image source: Madeleine Deaton, Flickr

Australian political observers will not need to be alerted to the fact that we have a new Prime Minister: Monday afternoon, former Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull unexpectedly challenged Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the leadership, and later that night won a party room ballot in a 54 to 44 decision. As with the previous leadership spills (from Rudd to Gillard in 2010, and from Gillard to Rudd in 2013), social media – and especially Twitter – once again played an important role in tracking this unfolding story across many different rumours and reports. Here’s how they did it.
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ATNIX: Australian Twitter News Index, February 2015

Australian Twitter News Index, Feb. 2015
Axel Bruns / QUT Social Media Research Group

February 2015 has been a tumultuous month in Australian news, not least because of the continuing leadership debate (and defeated spill motion) in the federal Liberal Party following the LNP’s unexpected defeat in the Queensland state election on 31 January. As expected, these and other events also affect the patterns observed in our Australian Twitter News Index (ATNIX) and in the overall Australian online news readership patterns tracked by Experian Hitwise.
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The end of solitude

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Does digital communication connect or isolate audiences? Do we fully understand the psychological impacts smartphones have on society? Is corporate social responsibility being co-opted by big business and the political elite? And do demonstrations in Hong Kong represent anti-China sentiment, or are they part of a larger class struggle?
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