An Investigation into the News Consumption Habits of Queen Margaret University Students Through The Use of Social Media
(2014) An Investigation into the News Consumption Habits of Queen Margaret University Students Through The Use of Social Media, no. 71.
This present paper is an exploratory study into the news consumption habits of Queen Margaret University (QMU) students in correlation with their use of social media. The research aimed to examine: the link between QMU students' news consumption and their exposure to links to news material on social media sites and, also, to establish if their news consumption is what the researcher has termed a 'shared' experience. In the instance of this research a 'shared' experience is considered by the researcher as tagging/liking/commenting/sharing or tweeting links to news items. Furthermore, the researcher aimed to establish what social media sites act as the best gateway to news material, as well as analysing on a qualitative basis what uses and gratifications QMU students have for accessing news material online. The research was carried out through the process of 10 semi-structured one-to-one interviews. All interviews were recorded, stored securely and later transcribed in order for the researcher to closely examine the findings. An adaption of McQuail, Blumler and Brown's Uses and Gratification Theory was used in the questioning process in order to establish whether students deemed their uses and gratifications for accessing news material to be a need for information, entertainment, social interactive or escapism. The research found that although students used Twitter considerably less than Facebook, Twitter was thought to be at the forefront of news consumption. The majority of participants believed that their news consumption had altered due to environmental factors such as changes in living situations. Participants spoke of a preference in reading news material and having discourse in person, rather than having discussions over the internet. A conclusion was reached that out of the sample of QMU students interviewed, student's hold a certain level of 'social curiosity' as all participants stated that they would be more likely to open a link to a news story and read an article that a friend/follower had read or been 'active' on. This was attributed by the students as a want to know what their peers are reading, thus having a direct impact on their own news consumption. Furthermore, QMU students showed a need to discuss news items with others in order to stay in the 'social loop' and appear knowledgeable and informed.