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PEJ: News Outlets Use Twitter to Promote Content

Lots of news outlets are using Twitter, but mostly to deliver and promote their own content rather than sharing content from others or engaging directly with Twitter users.

That is the conclusion of a new study from Project for Excellence in Journalism, and George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs

Topping the list with the most Twitter feeds was The Washington Post with 98, more than twice the average.

Not surprisingly, the news "agenda" on Twitter dovetailed with that of the legacy platforms, with four of the five top stores across the Twitter feeds studied also being among the top stories on those legacy outlets.

Some 93% of feeds linked to a news story on the news outlet's Web site over the course of the week studied, while only 2% sought out information like first-hand accounts and only 1% were retweets from outside organizations.

The study found that most individual reporters were not using Twitter for data collection, either. Only 3% of the tweets from the 13% of individual journalists studied solicited information, about the same as for the institutional feeds. Those journalists did tend to retweet more often -- 6% vs. 1% for their parent companies.

"There are similarities here with the early days of the Web, when news organizations rarely linked to anything outside their own walls," said Amy Mitchell, deputy director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, in announcing the study. "It bears watching whether the interactive and social attributes of Twitter eventually become a larger part of what news organizations do in this realm."  

The study was based on 37 feeds from 13 major U.S. news sources. In all, 3,646 tweets were examined for the week of Feb. 14-20, 2011. Tweets followed were from The New York Times, ABC, NPR, Huffington Post, Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, Daily Caller, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Arizona Republic, and The Blade.

The most-followed reporter tweets at the TV outlets were Jack Gray at CNN, Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, Megyn Kelly at Fox News, and George Stephanopoulos at ABC.