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Can World System Theory predict news flow on twitter? The case of government-sponsored broadcasting


Abstract and Figures

Social media platforms provide world governments with the opportunity to distribute news content from their broadcast channels directly to foreign publics [Wallerstein, I. (1974). The modern world system. New York: Academic Press] World System Theory, which has successfully explained and predicted the structure of international news flow, is now being challenged. Specifically, these social platforms undermined assumptions regarding the one-way flow of information toward audiences and the exclusive institutional nature of the players in the international system. This study examines the unique case of governmentsponsored news media and its international news flow. It finds that while the structure of the international news flow on Twitter exhibits a hierarchical core–periphery structure, non-institutional actors (e.g. bloggers) conformed less than institutional players (e.g. governments and news media) to that structure. This study also found that non-institutional actors assumed the role of bridging news sources and audiences, a role traditionally reserved for a small minority of elite news media. The growing and diversified pool of information mediators resulted in a more fragmented network of news flow, siloed, rather than interconnected. Research findings are synthesized and analyzed in the context of international broadcasting and social media scholarship
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Can World System Theory predict news ow on twitter? The
case of government-sponsored broadcasting
Guy J. Golan
and Itai Himelboim
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA;
Grady College of
Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
Social media platforms provide world governments with the
opportunity to distribute news content from their broadcast
channels directly to foreign publics [Wallerstein, I. (1974). The
modern world system. New York: Academic Press] World System
Theory, which has successfully explained and predicted the
structure of international news ow, is now being challenged.
Specically, these social platforms undermined assumptions
regarding the one-way ow of information toward audiences and
the exclusive institutional nature of the players in the international
system. This study examines the unique case of government-
sponsored news media and its international news ow. It nds
that while the structure of the international news ow on Twitter
exhibits a hierarchical coreperiphery structure, non-institutional
actors (e.g. bloggers) conformed less than institutional players
(e.g. governments and news media) to that structure. This study
also found that non-institutional actors assumed the role of
bridging news sources and audiences, a role traditionally reserved
for a small minority of elite news media. The growing and
diversied pool of information mediators resulted in a more
fragmented network of news ow, siloed, rather than
interconnected. Research ndings are synthesized and analyzed in
the context of international broadcasting and social media
Received 14 March 2015
Accepted 6 October 2015
World System Theory;
network analysis;
international broadcasting;
journalism; public diplomacy
The diffusion of social media platforms has transformed the international news ecology by
empowering audiences to become active players in the creation and dissemination of
news. The extent of this impact on the practice of journalism is widely debated by scholars
(Deuze, 2005; Goode, 2009; Hermida & Thurman, 2008). While some argue that journal-
ists for the most part maintain their key norms and gatekeeping functions (Domingo,
2008; Singer, 2005), more recent studies found that the highly interactive nature of
social networks, along with the emergent role of audiences as news content creators
and distributors, requires journalists to adapt their routines to the online news ecology
(Hermida, 2010; Hermida, Lewis, & Zamith, 2014; Lasorsa, Lewis, & Holton, 2012).
World System Theory (WST; Wallerstein, 1974) is premised on the notion that all
nations are a part of a larger system that ultimately shapes them (Straussfogel, 1997b).
Wallersteins theory has been applied by scholars in a range of disciplines.
© 2015 Taylor & Francis
CONTACT Guy J. Golan
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Fundamentally, the theory predicts the political, economic and cultural power will ow
from a small number of core countries to peripheral nations (Chase-Dunn & Hall, 1997).
The theory was applied to predict and support the notion that international news typically
ows from large, powerful nations to small, peripheral nations (Barnett, 2001; Chang,
1998; Park, Barnett, & Chung, 2011). However, given the adoption of social media plat-
forms by mainstream news organizations, along with the participation of actors such as
non-governmental organizations and ordinary citizens, this study re-examines the appli-
cability of WST in the modern social news ecology.
Conceptually, this study addressed four understudied areas in the literature about WST.
While many studies have examined news organizations and governments as distinct actors
in the context of WST, this study provides a unique examination of a hybrid of the two:
government-sponsored broadcaster. Second, when examining the international news ow,
the theory assumes the traditional mass communication model, where a few news media
communicate with passive audiences. This study examines the theory within a social
media platform, Twitter, which allows social institutions and the public to engage
global audiences and reconstruct traditional patterns of information news ow. Third,
social media platforms allow for a two-way communication ow between information
senders and receivers. This study recognizes the potential that key audience members
have in shaping information ow. We tested the applicability of the WST in this new
Fundamentally, WST posits that both core and peripheral nations act within a singular
global system to maximize production. As such, the unit of analysis in the WST is the
system as a whole, or the network. The nal key contribution of this study is the appli-
cation of the social network approach (Wasserman & Faust, 1994) to the study of the
WST, allowing us to examine the international network of information ow that is
initiated by government-sponsored new media and includes old and new actors.
Using network analysis, the study examined patterns of information ow on Twitter of
ve of the leading government-sponsored broadcast media internationally: Voice of
America (@VOA_News), Russia Today (@RT_News), Chinas Xinhua News Agency
(@XHNews), Qatars Al Jazeera (@AJEnglish) and Saudis Al Arabiya (@AlArabiya_Eng).
Twitter data of the activity surrounding each organization were collected for six weeks.
Social mediators, inuencers who play a key role in information ow, were identied
for each dataset. Social networks, including institutional and grassroots actors, were com-
piled and used to test the WST.
Literature review
Over the past two decades, the global media ecology was transformed by the mass adop-
tion of satellite television and social media platforms (Tufekci & Wilson, 2012; Wolfsfeld,
Segev, & Sheafer, 2013). These new platforms transformed how audiences engaged with
political, social and news-related institutions globally. These changes continue to hold
the potential of altering historical hierarchical patterns of international information
ow, as suggested by WST. However, while the information technologies have changed,
power dynamics may still predict the ow of information from powerful to less powerful
institutions. This literature review rst examines key concepts of WST, focusing on two
key actors governments and news media. We then discuss the hybrid form of
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government-sponsored news organizations and their strategic attempt to build global net-
works of news ow. A social network conceptual approach is introduced, focusing on key
inuential actors that serve a key function in shaping the ow of information between
sources and audiences.
International information ow and WST
For decades, television has served as an important platform through which people learn
about global matters (Golan & Wanta, 2003). A wealth of scholarship on the determinants
of international news ow and coverage has pointed to an asymmetry in news focus and
distribution between different nations (Himelboim, Chang, & McCreery, 2010; Kim &
Barnett, 1996). As Chang (1998) argues, not all nations are equal in the amount of cover-
age they receive. Furthermore, scholars note the limited scope of foreign news coverage in
Western nations and the tendency of news organizations to focus their coverage on a small
number of nations (Kim & Barnett, 1996; Lee, De Swert, & Cohen, 2015; Segev, Sheafer, &
Shenhav, 2013). Such literature indicates that coverage of peripheral nations is limited to
reporting on to natural disasters, conict, coups and plane crashes (Golan, 2008; Kalyango
& Onyebadi, 2012).
During the past three decades, ownership of global news organizations has been con-
solidated by a small number of multinational corporations (Bagdikian, 2014). As such,
one may predict that WST is more relevant to predicting news ow than ever. Expanding
upon dependency theory (see Ball-Rokeach, 1985,1998; Ball-Rokeach & DeFleur, 1976),
the WST suggests that countries became components of a hierarchical, encompassing
global structure and were located in three interactive zones of economic, political, social
and cultural relations: core, semi-periphery and periphery. The theory predicts that
core nations will have an advantage in the international distribution of resources. Two
actors in the world system are of a particular relevance for this study: governments and
news media.
WST and governments
Stemming from an economic perspective used to analyze and often criticize global capital-
ism, Wallersteins(1974) approach sought to explain the function of a nation as one kind of
organizational structure among others within this single social system(p. 7). As such, Wal-
lerstein focuses on states and state-related entities within the context of an interdependent
hierarchical structure. The theory focused on the combined role of institutions, not individ-
ual actors, within a complex interplay driven by capital maximization. Based on a core, per-
iphery and semi-periphery structure, the theory predicted a lack of balance in the ow of
resources between the powerful core nations and the other nations (Wallerstein, 1979,
1984,1990). This lack of balance often resulted in the exploitation of peripheral nations
and the hegemonic dominance of the core. Although focused on international economics,
WST has been tested and applied as a theoretical paradigm in academic disciplines such as
geography (Straussfogel, 1997a; Flint & Shelley, 1996), sociology (Balaev, 2009; Chirot &
Hall, 1982), international relations (Hinnebusch, 2011; Wendt, 1987), and other social
sciences (Faist, 2010; Knox & Taylor, 1995; Mol, 2010; Parks & Roberts, 2010).
A key way core nations pose their dominance over peripheral nations is through the
exportation and reinforcement of cultural values (Straussfogel, 1997b). One example is
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news (Straussfogel, 1997b). News content represents a cultural and political value export
commodity that, scholars argue, reinforces the hegemony of core nations over peripheral
nations (Wallerstein, 1990). Recently, scholars have applied the WST to explain and
predict international news ow.
WST and news media
Chang (1998) argued for the relevance of WST scholarship on international news ow. He
predicted that news originating from and transmitted by news organizations in core
nations determined news ow. Chang found consistency between the amount of news
wire coverage of 162 nations and the location of those nations within the world system.
Subsequent studies applied Changs theoretical approach to a variety of international
news case studies and found similar support: while core nations receive disproportionate
news media coverage around the world (Chang, Lau, & Xiaoming, 2000; Kim & Barnett,
1996), peripheral nations are largely ignored (Golan, 2008; Van Belle, 2000; Weber, 2010).
The global diffusion of Internet technologies and social media platforms has changed
the global news structure (Chang, Himelboim, & Dong, 2009). Some have argued that
this diffusion may liberalize the distribution of international news and balance the asym-
metry that has left peripheral nations largely uncovered in news media (Ekeanyanwu,
Kalyango, & Peters, 2012; Norris, 2000). Himelboim et al. (2010) tested this notion but
found evidence to the contrary. Their study suggested that news ow via websites of tra-
ditional news media was consistent with media news ow, where core nations dominate
coverage. The authors suggested that the world system approach was suitable for the inves-
tigation of determinants of international news and ow online. The disproportionally
favorable focus on core nations was also supported by Himelboims(2010) analysis of
online global news. Mapping the hyperlinks in foreign news stories around the world,
the study solidied the dominance of core nations, suggesting more information ow
from core nations to the rest of the world. Segev (2010) provided similar evidence to
this dominance in his network analysis of news links, nding that a nations online sal-
ience is highly correlated with the strength of the nations economy.
The growing literature regarding WST in the context of news ow and in international
relations has examined governments and news media as distinct actors. There is scant
examination, however, of the applicability of WST to government-sponsored news as a
function of international relations.
Government broadcasting and social media: the new frontier of international
For decades, governments produced radio, television and lm content and distributed it
internationally in an attempt to inuence global public opinion (Cull, 2008). Entman
(2008)dened mediated public diplomacy as the organized attempt by governments to
exert control over foreign media and its framing of a nations foreign policy. Scholars
have recognized the key function of global broadcasting and strategic information disse-
mination as a key component of modern-day international relations (Golan, 2014; Sheafer
& Shenhav, 2009). The diffusion of social networks and online le sharing platforms now
allows governments to converge their inuence on global television networks with the
social sphere (Himelboim, Golan, Moon, & Suto, 2014).
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The emergence of the Al Jazeera global satellite network and the subsequent Al Jazeera
Effect(Seib, 2008) provided a clue to global governments regarding the role that inter-
national broadcasting can play in the twenty-rst century international relations. Al
Jazeera challenged the traditional dominance of state-controlled media (Maalouf, 2008).
It also provided the Qatari government with the unprecedented ability to directly
engage and inuence foreign audiences through its framing of regional politics (Wojcies-
zak, 2007). Concerned about the inuence of Al Jazeera, the Saudi Arabian government
established the Al Arabiya satellite network to serve as a counterweight (Samuel-Azran,
2010). The global communication arms race developed further with Russias investment
in and expansion of its Russia Today satellite television network (Avgerinos, 2009).
Other nations such as China, France, Iran and Israel also placed their international
broadcasting arms as a key tactic within their public diplomacy engagement strategies
(Powers, 2011). Notably, American international broadcasting is the outlier; by regulation,
direct government inuence over its editorial content is limited.
This study provides a unique examination of the hybrid government-broadcasting
institution which combined government and news media actors within a single entity.
Such an examination is necessary due to the transformative role that government-spon-
sored broadcasting had in reshaping the global news ecology that previously adhered to
more democratic and liberal journalism standards put forward by the BBC and the
Voice of America (Powers & Youmans, 2012; Seib, 2008).
Building upon studies that have applied WST separately to news media and govern-
ments, this study proposes that the theory may be applicable to predicting the ability of
government-sponsored news organizations to disseminate their content based on their
location in the world system. The application of social media platforms in the dissemina-
tion of government-sponsored news content is prevalent.
Social media and social networks: new spaces for government-sponsored media
Focusing on patterns of relations among social actors, such as governments and news
media, and the structures these patterns form, WST is best examined as a social
network. Recent studies have taken a social network approach to examine and re-validate
WST as reected by news organizationswebsites worldwide (Chang et al., 2009;
Himelboim, 2010). Social media add new opportunities for information ow, as any
user can channel, disseminate and re-disseminate information from government-spon-
sored media. In the social networks formed, Al Jazeera and Russia Today, for example,
can reach audiences directly (i.e. users who follow their organizational accounts on
Twitter). As controlled platforms for non-democratic governments such as China,
Saudi Arabia, or Russia, broadcaster Twitter accounts often create direct communication
bridges between governments and foreign citizens, thus bypassing traditional news media
gatekeepers (Himelboim et al., 2014).
Social mediators
Network research has found that, given the opportunity to interact freely, individuals and
other social actors tend to form subgroups of connected individuals who are more inter-
connected with one another than with other, less-connected people in their social network.
A key characteristic of self-organized networks where nodes are free to create and delete
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connections was that they shared a common small worldstructure (Milgram, 1967).
Regardless of the size of a social network, human society has been composed of small clus-
ters of tightly interconnected individuals, resulting in a short average path length between
any two people. These patterns of interactions allow for the formation of shorter connec-
tions in a network of otherwise long paths. Watts and Strogatz (1998) and Watts (1999)
found that the short path length short global separation in many large networks was
related to high local clustering of subgroups (e.g. Rotary Clubs or neighborhood watch
groups). Small world network structures were found in a wide range of scale free networks,
including the power grid of the western United States, the spread of epidemics and/or HIV
infections and connections on Myspace (Brown, Broderick, & Lee, 2007; Fell & Wagner,
2000; Liljeros, Edling, Amaral, Stanley, & Åberg, 2001; Moore & Newman, 2000;
Offenhuber & Richards, 2007). Burt (2005) noticed that users who bridge these otherwise
divided subgroups played an important role, providing one of the few paths that link
otherwise separate groups.
A recent study by Himelboim et al. (2014) analyzed the use of Twitter by the US State
Department and found that this engagement was largely dependent on so-called social
mediators. They dened social mediators as the entities which mediate the relationships
between an organization and its publics through social media(p. 361). Focusing on pat-
terns of relationships among social and state actors as channels of information ow, this
study employed a social network approach. Social mediators, then, were any actors in the
network that established cross-cluster channels for information ow.
World system literature, both historical and recent, still holds the conventional assump-
tion of direct ow of information from news media to its publics. The assumption of these
studies has always been that information reaches the public via news media, whether inde-
pendent or sponsored. Government-sponsored media, which historically followed the
same assumption, have joined other news media in reaching audiences via social media.
Chang (1998) suggested and illustrated that, regardless of the medium, WST will continue
to predict news ow. We tested this assumption:
H1: Across the government-sponsored Twitter accounts, social mediators from core nations
will be more prevalent than those from non-core nations.
The success of organizational engagement with audiences largely has depended on the
strategic use of afliated social mediator, leading governments to employ afliated
Twitter accounts to disseminate information (Himelboim et al., 2014; Yang & Taylor,
2015). The strategic use of many accounts may provide governments with an advantage
in distributing news information across their followers, particularly to audiences they
cannot access directly.
RQ1: To what extent do government-sponsored Twitter accounts differ in terms of their use
of organizationally afliated social mediators?
The decentralization of international news ecology and the introduction of
new actors
Traditionally, governments depended on limited groups of elite global news organizations
to bridge their content and audiences (Golan, 2006). As such, elite news organizations play
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a key role in the ow of global news (Wu, 2007). The adoption of radio and satellite tech-
nologies allowed some governments to bypass these elites by creating direct channels of
information ow through government-sponsored channels such as the United States
Voice of America and Qatars Al Jazeera. The mediating role, traditionally carried out
by news media, remained, as users self-selected information sources on social media.
Media outlets, however, were no longer the only actors capable of information
Emergent social media platforms changed the basic dynamics of information ow and
inuence. As argued by scholars (Holton, Coddington, & Gil de Zúñiga, 2013; Meraz,
2009), social media empowered ordinary citizens to serve along with traditional news
media actors in the production, dissemination and redistribution of news content.
Studies have illustrated the key role that ordinary citizens play in disseminating and
framing news during crises, such as the revolution in Egypt (Papacharissi & de Fatima Oli-
veira, 2012), a tsunami (Meraz, 2011) and the Mumbai bombing (Potts, 2009). Beyond
framing news discourse, ordinary citizens also inuence the dissemination of information
from traditional news sources. Herring, Scheidt, Bonus, and Wright (2005) identied the
key function of ler blogsin aggregating and disseminating information from selected
sources to its audiences. Sweetser (2007) found that social media provided political organ-
izations a way to bypass news media and reach audiences directly.
An underlying assumption of WST has been that the key social actors were institutions
(e.g. governments, traditional news organizations). The introduction of global non-insti-
tutional actors on the social sphere required a fresh examination of a basic assumption of
WST. On the one hand, early studies about information ow within the international
network of news websites conrmed the traditional three-tiered system (Chang et al.,
2009; Himelboim et al., 2010). However, previous studies failed to account for the
impact of non-institutional actors (i.e. ordinary citizens) on the dissemination of news
ow. Accounting for the fundamental difference between these two types of actors, in
terms of the underlying assumption of the WST, we predicted the following:
H2: The coreperiphery location of a country where social mediators are located will better
predict the disparity of institutional social mediators than of non-institutional mediators.
Governments previously relied on a small number of elite news organizations to dissemi-
nate information to global publics. The international network of governments was inter-
connected via these small number of information mediators. The decentralization of the
international information ow systems introduced more diverse actors that could under-
mine the dominance of traditional media elites. Governments can now strategically select
afliated social mediators and be selected by sympathetic social actors to reach their
publics. As scholars argue, the self-selection of information sources on social media has
resulted in silos of information sharing, rather than interconnectedness (Adamic &
Glance, 2005; Himelboim, Smith, & Shneiderman, 2013). The emergence and centrality
of social mediators is a result of the activity of an organization and the organic activity
of users in the network. Elite and other news media, however, may continue to act as
social mediators, preserving their strategic role in the international news ecology. There-
fore, our last research questions asked:
RQ2: Do the government-sponsored news organizations share social mediators?
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This study applied network and content analyses to examine the nature of the inter-
national news networks in the context of government-sponsored global Twitter engage-
ment. This study focused on the ve most dominant English language Twitter accounts,
Voice of America (@VOA_News), Russia Today (@RT_News), Chinas Xinhua News
Agency (@XHNews), Qatars Al Jazeera (@AJEnglish) and Saudis Al Arabiya (@AlAra-
biya_Eng) based on their global competition in promoting and shaping international
news agendas. These ve news organizations were selected based on overall government
investment and the relative global audience size. While Qatar and Saudi Arabia are not
considered core nations, their global broadcasting channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya
are considered amongst the most inuential in the world (Nisbet & Myers, 2011;
Samuel-Azran, 2010). The ve channels were selected due to the rivalry between the
ve nations in shaping the news agenda in the Middle East and East Asia. While the
United States, Russia and China represent hegemonic core nations that compete on
the international stage, Qatar was selected due to the global prevalence of its Al Jazeera
network and Saudi Arabia due to Al Arabias direct rivalry with Al Jazeera.
All the Twitter accounts analyzed represent the ofcial English language accounts of the
government-sponsored broadcasters. We selected the English language accounts due to
two key reasons. First, English is the most common language in Twitter (with 38.25%
tweets in English according to a recent study by Leetaru, Wang, Cao, Padmanabhan, &
Shook, 2013; Spanish comes in second with 11.37%). Second, previous studies show
that English dominated Twitter conversations among social mediators in non-English
speaking nations (see Himelboim et al., 2014). This is not a new phenomenon, nor is it
limited to social media. Zuckerman (2008) identied Bridgeblogs bloggers who seek
to mediate across languages in Asia, Eastern Europe, Southern Africa and the Middle
East that give North American and European readers access to conversations taking
place in other parts of the world.
Data and data collection procedures
This study collected Twitter data using NodeXL, the social media data aggregator and ana-
lyzer MS Excel add-on (Hansen, Shneiderman, & Smith, 2010). The data included Twitter
usernames, user statistics (e.g. prole description and URL, the number of followers) and
tweets of users who talked about each of the ve Twitter accounts listed above. For each of
these ve datasets, the relationships among users mentions and replies were identied
as indicators of ties among Twitter players. It should be noted that mentions and replies,
rather than follows, were used as links because they indicate stronger attention giving and
information ow the goals of Twitter participation. The account handles were used as
keywords for identifying users and tweets for the datasets. Data were collected using
NodeXLs Twitter Search importer (Hansen et al., 2010), which identies all Twitter
users that included the handle (e.g. @VOA_News). Six weekly data draws were performed
for each news medium, every Tuesday starting on 13 August 2013. The amount of data
collected was determined by the Twitter application program interface (API), and
yielded varied Twitter activity in every data collection, ranging between two and four
days. It is common in social media research to rely on such API outputs (Himelboim,
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2014;Smithetal.,2009). Connecting to the Twitter API, NodeXL yields network data, which
are more complex than a list of tweets that are available through a range of tools. This tool,
however, is limited by size and time span. As such, any attempt to merge datasets will result
in time gaps within thecombined data, leading toa false sense of continuous data. Therefore,
following precedents in literature (e.g. Himelboim, Hansen, & Bowser, 2013), individual
datasets were collected and analyzed. For technical reasons, the last data collection was
drawn on Wednesday, 18 September 2013. Datasets varied in the number of users (71 to
5749, median = 406) and the number of tweets (122 to 11217, median = 902). Distributions
of the number of tweets and users were skewed; therefore median values, rather than mean
values, are reported.
Network analysis
Each topic-network consisted of nodes and following relationships (directed ties) between
them. The unit of analysis was the Twitter account of a social mediator. This research
operationalized social mediators as bridging-hubs, users in the top 2.5% of the network
in terms of in-degrees centrality values and top 10% in terms of betweenness centrality
(based on cutoff points that were tested in Himelboim et al., 2014). This operationalization
gave priority to in-degree as it ensured the direction of information owed toward the
public. Betweenness centrality measured the extent to which the actor fell on the shortest
path between other pairs of actors in the network. The more people that depended on an
actor to make connections, the higher its betweenness centrality value was. This value,
therefore, was associated with bridging actors in a network. However, betweenness cen-
trality measures did not take into consideration the direction of relationships. The
second aspect of the operationalization of bridging-hubs was high in-degree centrality.
In-degree centrality was measured as the number of followers a user has among the
other members of the specic topic-network. Twitter hubs accounted for a signicant
amount of information ow through the Twitter networks due to the expected highly
skewed distribution of Twitter followers (Raban & Rabin, 2007).
Content analysis
A content analysis of the individual Twitter accounts was conducted by two graduate stu-
dents working with one of the authors. The unit of analysis was the Twitter account of a
social mediator. Each account was coded for the following variables: (a) country of geo-
graphic location: a country, the UN or the Internet, users with no geographic location
such as @wikileaks; and (b) type of mediators: Twitter accounts afliated with the govern-
mental news media, traditional news media (unafliated with governmental news media),
governmental and inter-governmental organizations (e.g. UNO), and individuals with no
afliation to any of the above. Due to the manifest nature of the content analyzed, inter-
coder reliability was calculated using Holstis formula (1969), which measures the percen-
tage of agreement, and was satisfactory at the level .93 across the two coders in the study.
World system categorization. Each country where mediators were counted was categor-
ized based on concepts by Wallersteins WST (1974) and the more recent classication of
Blondheim, Segev, and Cabrera (2015). Because the list of countries was small (N= 17),
countries were categorized as core or periphery/semi-periphery.
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The 30 datasets (six datasets for each of the ve news media) included 36,856 users who
tweeted, mentioned and replied 68,727 times. Across the six datasets captured for each
organization, Russia Today in English (@RT_Com) had the largest network (M
3509.17, M
= 6238.17), followed by Al Jazeera (M
= 1473.60, M
= 2818.40)
and Al Arabiya (M
= 977.33, M
= 1943.17), VOA (M
= 276.67, M
539.33) and XHNews (M
= 150.67, M
= 385.17) had the least active networks.
All datasets were analyzed for their social mediator user using a network analysis of
each dataset. In order to identify social mediators, rst users and their mention and
reply-to relationships were mapped. Figure 1 is an example of one such network.
Next, betweenness and in-degree values were calculated for each user. These top hubs
were aggregated into single datasets where they were mapped based on the relationships
between news media and its public diplomacy mediators. For example, @CNN was found
to be a social mediator for @VOA_News, which establishes a link between @VOA_News
and the United States. The aggregation of all these links created an international network
of government-sponsored broadcasting organizations.
H1: across the government-sponsored Twitter accounts, social mediators from core nations
will be more prevalent than those from non-core nations.
Figure 1. The Twitter social network of @AJEnglish on 13 August 2013.
Notes: In this social network, users who talked about @AJEnglish on 13 August 2013 were captured and
mapped based on their relationships of mentions and replies. Key social mediators were identied
based on their betweenness and in-degree values. The government-sponsored media organization
(here, @AJEnglish) and its social mediators are identied here using their Twitter icon. For instance,
on the left one can nd @AJEnglish and @USNavy. In the green cluster, Al Jazeera journalists and tele-
vision hosts. The blogger @scoobydoo007 with the Free Syria logo, @CNN and so on.
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Figure 2 illustrates the international network of government-owned news media. News
media are presented using their logos, while countries are represented by their names.
The thickness of a link corresponds with the number of social mediators. The most con-
nected countries, in terms of the number of news media mediated by users in that country,
were the United States and the United Kingdom, traditionally core countries in the world
system; each connected all ve news media. Eighteen cases of social mediators were
located in the United Kingdom and 16 US-based mediators were found within the 30 data-
sets. The rest of the countries hosted mediators for only one country each, except for
Egypt, where mediators were found for both Russia Today and Al Arabiya in English.
Regarding H1, then, a t-test was used to test for the signicance of the relationship
between the location of the county where mediators were located and the number of gov-
ernmental news media they served, resulting in a signicant relationship (F= 10.03,
p< .01, n= 17 nations).
It is worth noting that geographic proximity was reected only for some of the news
medias mediators. Al Arabiya was most mediated by Middle-Eastern countries
(Lebanon, Iran, Kuwait, Egypt and Israel) after the United States and the United
Kingdom, while mediators for Al Jazeera were from elsewhere in the world (Malaysia
and France, after the United States and the United Kingdom). XHNews mediators were
also geography-based (Thailand, Japan and Singapore, after the United States and the
United Kingdom). For Russia Today, mediators were less geographic and, to a certain
Figure 2. The international network of government-owned news media.
Notes: A few mediators, such as @Wikileasks, could not be associated with a country. These were cate-
gorized as The Internet.
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extent, more political; in nine cases, Venezuela was the home of social mediators. Voice of
America had a short list of mediators beyond the United States and the United Kingdom,
which included Pakistan, Indonesia and UN-related organizations.
RQ1: To what extent do government-sponsored Twitter accounts differ in terms of their use
of organizationally afliated social mediators?
The most common social mediators for @AJEnglish were users that were formerly associ-
ated with that news media (e.g. @ajstream and Malika Bilal, a journalist for Al Jazeera in
English), making up 45% of its social mediators. For @AlArabiya_Eng and @RT_Com,
afliated mediators were common (25% and 23%, respectively), but second to individual
social mediators. Only 10% of @XHNewssocial mediators were afliated with that organ-
ization, and none of @VOA_Newsmediators were associated with it.
The results, illustrated in Figure 3, showed that overall, individuals not afliated with a
media, government or other organization were found to be the most common type of
social mediators across all news media (@AlArabiya_Eng, 55%; @RT_Com, 73%;
@VOA_News, 60%, @XHNews, 70%), except for @AJEnglish (30% individuals as social
mediators). Finally, traditional news media played a secondary role as social mediators
(@AJEnglish, 20%; @RT_Com, 20%; @VOA_News, 20%; @AlArabiya_Eng, 10%;
@XHNews, 10%; @RT_Com, 5%).
H2: The location of a nation within of coreperiphery dichotomy will better predict the dis-
parity of institutional social media mediators than of non-institutional mediators.
Removing actors not afliated with a specic country (e.g. Wikileaks, UNESCO), 51 social
mediators remained: 14 institutional and 37 non-institutional. Of the institutional ones,
71.4% were located in core countries (n= 10) and 28.6% in semi-periphery and periphery
countries (n= 4; peripheral and semi-peripheral countries where merged due to the low
number of countries). Of the non-institutional mediators, 54.1% were located in core
Figure 3. Government-sponsored media organizations by types of mediators.
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countries (n= 20) and 45.9% in semi-periphery and periphery countries (n= 17). Figure 3
illustrates the differences in social mediatorsdisparity across types of actors. These differ-
ences were signicant for institutional (t= 10.62, df = 13, p< .001) and non-institutional
(t= 17.57, df = 36, p< .001) social mediators. While the small number of units does not
allow us to statistically test whether the type of organization affects the strength of the
world system-based distribution of mediators, both the percentage differences (see above
and in Figure 4) and the higher t-value for institutional mediatorssubgroup suggest
support for H2.
Notably, the dominance of the United States and the United Kingdom in the world
system was not limited to institutional social mediators, but also applied to individual
mediators. Overall, 46.67% (n= 21) of individual social mediators (i.e. those unassociated
with institutions; n= 45) were from core countries. The United States (n= 11) and the
United Kingdom (n= 8) remained dominant, as 42.2% of all individual mediators were
located in these two countries. Among individual mediators, 17.8% (n= 8) were not
associated with any given country and were categorized as Internet(e.g. Wikileaks),
and 35.5% (n= 16) were in periphery and semi-periphery countries.
RQ2: Do the government-sponsored news organizations share social mediators?
Figure 4. The social networks of government-sponsored media organizations and social mediators.
Notes: Shapes represent different types of mediators: solid circles: associated with that news media;
circles: traditional news media; solid diamonds: governmental and inter-governmental organizations;
and squares: individuals not associated with an organization.
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Figure 4 lays out the news organizations and their social mediators. Each type of
mediator is represented by a different shape: solid circles for mediators ofcially afliated
with a news organization (e.g. @AJStream), circles for traditional news media (e.g.
@bbcworld), solid diamonds for governmental and inter-governmental agencies (e.g.
@usnavy and @unesco) and squares for all other users, primarily individuals not afliated
with a larger organization (e.g. @blogofwar). Mapping six datasets for each news organ-
ization, hardly any points of overlap of social mediators were found. In one instance,
@AJEnglish retweeted a message by @RT_com, and @cnn was found to be a mediator
of @VOA_News and @AJEnglish. These were exceptions. No other users served as
social mediators across news media.
While WST has been tested and supported across disciplines, social media platforms
changed the global media ecology, presenting challenges to many of Wallersteins
(1974) underlying assumptions. Specically, these new social spaces undermined assump-
tions regarding the one-way ow of information toward audiences and the exclusive insti-
tutional nature of the players in the international system. Consequently, new social actors
to the international information system were introduced. This study examined the unique
case of government-sponsored news media and its international news ow on Twitter. It
nds that while the structure of the international news ow on Twitter exhibited a hier-
archical coreperiphery structure, non-institutional actors (e.g. bloggers) conformed less
than institutional players (e.g. governments and news media) to that structure. This
study also found that non-institutional actors assumed the role of bridging news
sources and audiences, a role traditionally reserved for a small minority of elite news
media. The growing and diversied pool of information mediators on Twitter resulted
in a more fragmented network of news ow, siloed, rather than interconnected. The nd-
ings of this study are best understood in the context of the following key WST
Assumption 1: One-way information ow from government to the public
The WST emerged at a time when the technology allowed information to ow from one
source to mass audiences. As such, there was an assumed asymmetry from the source to
the audiences. While governments attempted to reach their audiences around the world
directly via sponsored media, traditional news media and elite media continued to play
a key role. The international information network on Twitter breaks this implicit assump-
tion, as information can ow between audiences and governments in both ways, directly
and indirectly. Regardless, and with correspondence of earlier studies about the WST and
its applicability to the global ow of news coverage (Chang et al., 2009; Himelboim, 2014),
this study nds that international news ow on Twitter conformed to the hierarchical
coreperiphery structure.
Specically, regardless of geographic location of the state-sponsored media, the results
of this study show that mediators located in the United States and the United Kingdom
dominated the respective Twitter social networks. However, this research found an indi-
cation that, for some of the state-sponsored medias mediators, geography played a
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secondary role. Al Arabiya and XHNews had geographically based social mediators in
addition to mediators in the United States and the United Kingdom. For other media,
geography did not play such a role. It is worth mentioning in this context the work of
Gunaratne (2002) who suggested a model with three geographically based economic clus-
ters, each with its own center (North American Free Trade Agreement, EU and Asian-
Pacic) and periphery or Hinterland. This earlier work and the ndings here call for
re-examination of the secondary role that geography may play in the Internet-mediated
international network of news media.
Findings suggest that, regardless of Twitters egalitarian potential, government-spon-
sored news content was distributed along a hierarchical coreperiphery structure as pre-
dicted by WST. We found that the structure of the news ow networks may be impacted
by geography as well as mediators characteristics.
Assumption 2: The players in the world system are social institutions
Key to Wallersteins approach was a focus on institutions as key players in the world
system. Nations, governments and elite news media were identied as the systems promi-
nent components. Individuals were perceived as passive audiences that institutions sought
to reach in an effort to maximize global capital. Collectively, the results of this study high-
light the signicant role that social mediators institutional and non-institutional play
in the modern online news ecology. The introduction of non-institutional players to the
world system undermines the long-standing assumptions regarding the institutional
nature of the global unied world system. The results of our analysis indicate that Waller-
steins(1974) WST was applicable to institutional actors such as government-sponsored
accounts (Chang, 1998), while less applicable to non-institutional actors like bloggers.
This study advances scholarship on WST by providing one of the rst tests of its applica-
bility within a microblogging platform. One early promise of the Internet was the creation
of egalitarian spaces and interactions, removed from political and economic hierarchies
(Gerhards & Schäfer, 2010; Papacharissi, 2002). Our ndings suggest that non-insti-
tutional players in the international news system examined here made modest contri-
butions toward a more egalitarian structure of information ow.
As posited by WST, core nations have a natural advantage over peripheral nations in
the ow of information. As core governments and elite news media separately hold an
advantage, government-sponsored news organizations naturally exert more inuence in
the context of core nations. Twitter opens the international system to new actors that
may complement the role of elite media. As seen in our results, news organizations
located in Qatar and Saudi Arabia non-core countries were able to harness social
spaces to their own advantage by engaging with social mediators in core nations and
through the strategic use of the organizationsafliated Twitter accounts. Russia exhibited
the most elaborate use of its afliated accounts as social mediators in the international
information network. This strategic approach is consistent with the rest of Russias
well-coordinated international communication, persuasion apparatus and its mistrust in
western institutions and news media (Golan & Viatchaninova, 2014; Simons, 2014). Com-
paratively, the United States relied on its unique dominant position as a leading core
nation and did not demonstrate a strategic application of afliated accounts. This resulted
in a very limited Twitter network.
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The emergence of social mediators has redened the nature of the traditional organiz-
ationaudience relationships (Himelboim et al., 2014). The introduction of new players,
institutional and non-institutional, independent and afliated, has changed the inter-
national information network both in terms of the overall hierarchical structures and
the use of afliated social mediators to reach broader audiences.
Assumption 3: The world system is interconnected
A key argument proposed by Wallerstein (1974) was that nations within the world system
act as one in pursuit of a unied economic goal. In other words, the system is intercon-
nected. Traditionally, nations have relied on a few elite news organizations to connect
their messages with world audiences. The results of our analysis show that social mediators,
both institutional and non-institutional, created distinct networks, whereas government-
sponsored organizations on Twitter were separated, not connected, by social mediators.
Our study raises questions about the applicability of WST to international news ow in com-
puter-mediated spaces (Chang, 1998; Himelboim, 2010; Segev & Blondheim, 2013). We
suggest that the WST is applicable to the international news ow only when key players
are institutions. When new social actors are introduced, whether institutional or non-insti-
tutional, the assumptions of the theory are challenged and so is its applicability.
One key limitation of comparative studies is the inability to control for alternative expla-
nations for audience engagement, such as alternative platforms used, government censor-
ship and factors linked to the digital divide. Another limitation of this study is its emphasis
on English-only language accounts. The focus on select government-afliated accounts
and the exclusion of other government-sponsored accounts of other core nations, poses
another limitation (e.g. the United Kingdoms BBC, Germanys Deutsche Welle and
France 24).
A data collection methodological limitation resulted in datasets that are not equal in
timespan. Further development in data collection tools may lead to more continuous col-
lection of network data, which will allow ltering of tweets according to their date of pub-
lication before analyzing them, in order to make datasets more comparable. Future studies
should expand the research scope to include various government accounts across language
and platform, as well as a to different social media spaces.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Notes on contributors
Guy J. Golan (PhD, University of Florida, 2003) is an associate professor of public relations and
public diplomacy in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
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Itai Himelboim (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2008) is an associate Professor in the Department
of Advertising and Public Revelations at the University of Georgia. Dr. Himelboim studies social
media networks and their implications for democratic and civil societies. He pursues this interest
by examining patterns of interactions and identifying key actors and communities on social media,
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... Although Facebook's multilayered recommendation algorithm was found to be biased, for example, concerning its ad targeting (Cotter et al., 2021) and news feed (DeVito, 2017), research on the role of SNSs, and particularly Facebook, in spreading news content globally is scarce (see, e.g., Golan & Himelboim, 2016;Wu, Groshek, & Elasmar, 2016, for Twitter). ...
... In a recent innovative approach, a country's informational influence in the digital context has been also measured according to its salience in other countries' Google trends in different languages (Segev, 2018). News flow studies on SNSs focused primarily on Twitter (e.g., Golan & Himelboim, 2016;Wu et al., 2016). A country's informational influence in the SNS context has been assessed, for instance, based on the number of mentions of a country (Wu et al., 2016) and the content distribution of different countries' government-sponsored English-language accounts (e.g., United States' Voice of America, Russia's RT, China's Xinhua News Agency, Qatar's Al Jazeera, and Saudi's Al Arabiya; Golan & Himelboim, 2016). ...
... News flow studies on SNSs focused primarily on Twitter (e.g., Golan & Himelboim, 2016;Wu et al., 2016). A country's informational influence in the SNS context has been assessed, for instance, based on the number of mentions of a country (Wu et al., 2016) and the content distribution of different countries' government-sponsored English-language accounts (e.g., United States' Voice of America, Russia's RT, China's Xinhua News Agency, Qatar's Al Jazeera, and Saudi's Al Arabiya; Golan & Himelboim, 2016). ...
In this study, I investigated the foreign Facebook audiences of Russia’s most influential domestic news outlets (n = 50) with regard to the presence of criticism toward the political elite (nonleadership-critical, leadership-critical). Accordingly, I triangulated two Facebook application programming interfaces that have rarely been used in communication research. Findings demonstrate that, as of January 24, 2022–February 23, 2022, 40% of the outlets attract more than half of their Facebook audience abroad. The largest audiences are found (1) in the post-Soviet region, hence, in countries with high geographical and language proximity, and (2) for nonleadership-critical news outlets. This study is politically relevant, as it shows how Facebook primarily functions as a transmission channel of Russian state-aligned news to foreign audiences. Link to journal's website:
... To explore these possibilities, this study focusses on one event -the US election -and examines tweets in the English language, which may be a limitation but also reflects content more likely to cross borders. Golan and Himelboim (2016) cited the need for expanded studies into international news media. In an age when 'fake news' is generated online and runs rampant across the US (McIntire, 2016), and international diplomacy may be balanced on the Twitter feed of the American president himself (Isaac and Ember, 2016;Lynch, 2016), it is vital to understand the sources and practices employed on Twitter by international sources. ...
... Variables were created by relying on previous content analyses and other studies (e.g. Golan and Himelboim, 2016;Hermida et al., 2014;Lee et al., 2016) that focussed on international communication via Twitter. ...
... Other content analysis studies have singled out sources that are groups, but we wanted to learn if media companies accounted for a large number of tweets (e.g. Golan and Himelboim, 2016;Howard et al., 2017;Kim et al., 2011;Kiousis et al., 2015;Lotan et al., 2011). ...
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A manual content analysis compares 6019 Twitter comments from six countries during the 2016 US presidential election. Twitter comments were positive about Trump and negative about Clinton in Russia, the US and also in India and China. In the UK and Brazil, Twitter comments were largely negative about both candidates. Twitter sources for Clinton comments were more frequently from journalists and news companies, and still more negative than positive in tone. Topics on Twitter varied from those in mainstream news media. This foundational study expands communications research on social media, as well as political communications and international distinctions.
... First, English is the most common language on Twitter. Second, English is predominant in Twitter conversations among users in non-English speaking nations (Golan & Himelboim, 2016). The timeframe of data collection was January 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021. ...
Social media platforms such as Twitter provide opportunities for governments to connect to foreign publics and influence global public opinion. In the current study, we used social and semantic network analysis to investigate China’s digital public diplomacy campaign during COVID-19. Our results show that Chinese state-affiliated media and diplomatic accounts created hashtag frames and targeted stakeholders to challenge the United States or to cooperate with other countries and international organizations, especially the World Health Organization. Telling China’s stories was the central theme of the digital campaign. From the perspective of social media platform affordance, we addressed the lack of attention paid to hashtag framing and stakeholder targeting in the public diplomacy literature.
... This study fills a gap in international and visual communications, by examining the Twitter images in six nations, with implications for future research on agenda-setting, social media, political and international communication, and public diplomacy. Golan and Himelboim (2016) cited the need for expanded studies into international news media. In the age when "fake news" is generated online and runs rampant across the U.S. (McIntire, 2016), and international diplomacy may be balanced on the Twitter feed of the American president himself (Lynch, 2016;Isaac & Ember, 2016), it is vital to understand the practices employed on Twitter by international sources. ...
... According to the Smith and White (1992) fundamental claim of world-system analysis is that international roles, connections and relationships are central independent variables in any pivotal analysis asserting to describe numerous dimensions of growth and development within countries. The world system theory remains the focus of sociological studies (Babones, 2005;el-Ojeili, 2015;Simon, 2011;Sorinel, 2010;Wallerstein, 1974Wallerstein, , 2004 and international communication (Blondheim, Segev, & Cabrera, 2015;Chang, 1998;Eijaz & Ahmad, 2011;Golan, 2008;Golan & Himelboim, 2016;Gunaratne, 2001;Guo & Vargo, 2017;Koh, 2012;Letukas & Barnshaw, 2008;Louw, 2009;Wanta & Mikusova, 2010). The present study also focuses on the coverage of political news in tweets of international news agencies. ...
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This article attempts to study the flow of political news in tweets of four international news agencies: AP, AFP, Reuters and Xinhua, for 7 years from 2010 to 2016. Theoretically, the study takes its roots from the World System Theory of Immanuel Wallerstein. We used the content analysis method and examined the coverage of political news about 15 world countries (five core countries, five semi-periphery and five periphery countries) in 6746 tweets of international news agencies. We also analyzed the portrayal, retweet rate, favorite rate, and shared portrayal of world system countries. We found that there are significant differences in coverage of political news about the world countries in tweets of international news agencies. Moreover, Traditional hierarchies and structures of political news flow still exist on Twitter. Core countries are covered as well as shared more and positively as compare to the semiperiphery or periphery countries.
... Joseph Nye (2004) has hinted at the fact that soft power is also about power over opinion, especially in the current information era. Public diplomacy as an element of soft power relies on media communication to inform and influence the public (Guo and Vargo, 2017;Golan and Himelboim, 2016). T.-y. ...
Full-text available
... Joseph Nye (2004) has hinted at the fact that soft power is also about power over opinion, especially in the current information era. Public diplomacy as an element of soft power relies on media communication to inform and influence the public (Guo and Vargo, 2017;Golan and Himelboim, 2016). T.-y. ...
Social media uptake in the Gulf States continues to grow, and while previous research has explored its place in terms of political action and individual responses to pressures of globalisation and urbanisation, little attention has been paid to how social media has integrated with the tribal networks in the region. This paper presents research that uses inductive thematic analysis of 107 public Twitter and Instagram accounts of Gulf State tribal groups to explore how tribes in the Gulf region use these platforms to facilitate tribal power and cohesion. We argue that tribal social media is performing multiple simultaneous roles, including aiding in maintaining tribal cohesion in the face of urbanisation and globalisation, displaying a tribe’s social power and influence, and enabling social cohesion and mutual aid. We conclude that to understand flows of power and information in the Gulf States, it is critical to understand the influence of the tribe on both individuals and wider social and political trends in the Gulf region.
This study highlights how Winter storm Benji plays a significant role in human responses and displacements according to a multitude of periods, geographic scales, and social vulnerability. This study collects Twitter data between 11‐20‐2017 and 12‐24‐2017 for Winter storm Benji in the US, which is one of the heaviest December storms on record in the South region. This study finds that tweets in the winter storm week are roughly four times higher than those in the pre‐winter storm week. Second, the South region significantly shows a higher proportion of tweets during the winter storm week. Third, US states show different displacements with other variables controlled. For example, Texas and Louisiana show less displacements than Florida. Fourth, vulnerable people respond differently to the natural disaster according to the social vulnerability types. For instance, vulnerable people in the housing type & transportation category are highly associated with the natural disaster event, whereas those in the socio‐economic status category are not related to it.
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Background/objectives: To examine the factors which can influence the presence of world countries in news tweets of international news agencies. Methodology: The study draws upon the World Systems Theory, which categorizes the world into Core, Semi-Periphery, and Periphery with respect to economic, political, and communication relationships. We attempt to study and compare the coverage of Core, Periphery, and Semi-Periphery countries in tweets of international news agencies. Scholars argue that certain attributes of a country make that country more newsworthy for international news agencies and also these factors contribute significantly in making these countries more prominent on the digital landscape of twitter. We used the method of content analysis of purposively selected tweets of four international news agencies; AFP, AP, Reuters, and Xinhua about the 15 sample countries, including Pakistan, for the period of 7 year from 2010-2016. Findings: We found that there are significant differences in the coverage of world countries in tweets of international news agencies. Core and Semi-Periphery countries are given more coverage in international news tweets. Similarly, Core and Semi-Periphery countries are more retweeted and liked by the followers of international news agencies. Finally, we found that GDP is not the sole determinant of countries portrayal and their sharing on Twitter by the international news agencies and their followers. Novelty/ improvements: If a country, including Pakistan, wants to increase its sharing on Twitter, the country should develop its information sector and internet penetration should be accelerated.
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In failed or failing states, deliberation as it is operationalized in much of the political communication literature is inapplicable. These states lack advanced communication infrastructures, press systems and public spheres, which require high literacy rates, education, the rule of law and other elements of an enabling regulatory environment. Rather than imagining deliberation as a series of exchanges over focused issues, a scaled down standard of deliberation is appropriate. Such a model could simply involve enhanced communication and information sharing among the citizenry, spreading political norms that aid some level of quasi-governance or simply improving the quality of life in challenging circumstances. Even in both starkly repressive countries and states where governments barely exist, some new communication technologies are increasingly available and they facilitate deliberative exchange. At the same time, foreign international broadcasters are complementing their traditional broadcasting with the development and promotion of deliberation technologies. This paper suggests international broadcasting agencies can find new purpose by utilizing emerging ICTs for the purpose of deliberative development in failed and failing states where public deliberation is under-developed.
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A macro theory that recognizes the world’s three competing center-clusters and their respective hinterlands o?ers a realistic framework for global communication research. This study has used recent data on world trade, computers, Internet hosts, and high-tech exports to map the triadization of the world in the Information Age. The original dependency theory and world-system theory perspectives emphasized the hierarchical linking of national societies to the capitalist world-economy in a center-periphery structure. The proposed global-triadization formulation looks at the center-periphery structure in terms of a capitalist world-economy dominated by three competing center economic clusters, each of which has a dependent hinterland comprising peripheral economic clusters. These clusters may not necessarily be geographically contiguous. Strong-weak relationships may exist within each center-cluster, as well as within each periphery-cluster, with one center-cluster occupying a hegemonic role. The rudimentary Information-Society Power Index, constructed for this study, can guide the researcher to test an abundance of hypotheses on the pattern of global communication and information ?ow with particular attention to source, message, channel, and receiver.
The battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East is being fought not on the streets of Baghdad, but on the newscasts and talk shows of Al Jazeera. The future of China is being shaped not by Communist Party bureaucrats, but by bloggers working quietly in cyber cafes. The next attacks by al Qaeda will emerge not from Osama bin Laden’s cave, but from cells around the world connected by the Internet. In these and many other instances, traditional ways of reshaping global politics have been superseded by the influence of new media-satellite television, the Internet, and other high-tech tools. What is involved is more than a refinement of established practices. We are seeing a comprehensive reconnecting of the global village and a reshaping of how the world works. Al Jazeera is a paradigm of new media’s influence. Ten years ago, there was much talk about “the CNN effect,” the theory that news coverage-especially gripping visual storytelling-was influencing foreign policy throughout the world. Today, “the Al Jazeera effect” takes that a significant step further. The concept encompasses the use of new media as tools in every aspect of global affairs, ranging from democratization to terrorism, and including the concept of “virtual states.” “The media” are no longer just the media. They have a larger popular base than ever before and, as a result, have unprecedented impact on international politics. The media can be tools of conflict and instruments of peace; they can make traditional borders irrelevant and unify peoples scattered across the globe. This phenomenon, the Al Jazeera effect, is reshaping the world.
Businesses, entrepreneurs, individuals, and government agencies alike are looking to social network analysis (SNA) tools for insight into trends, connections, and fluctuations in social media. Microsoft's NodeXL is a free, open-source SNA plug-in for use with Excel. It provides instant graphical representation of relationships of complex networked data. But it goes further than other SNA tools -- NodeXL was developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts that bring together information studies, computer science, sociology, human-computer interaction, and over 20 years of visual analytic theory and information visualization into a simple tool anyone can use. This makes NodeXL of interest not only to end-users but also to researchers and students studying visual and network analytics and their application in the real world. In Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL, members of the NodeXL development team up to provide readers with a thorough and practical guide for using the tool while also explaining the development behind each feature. Blending the theoretical with the practical, this book applies specific SNA instructions directly to NodeXL, but the theory behind the implementation can be applied to any SNA. To learn more about Analyzing Social Media Networks and NodeXL, visit the companion site at Walks readers through using NodeXL while explaining the theory and development behind each step, providing takeaways that can apply any SNA Demonstrates how visual analytics research can be applied to SNA tools for the mass market Presents readers with case studies using NodeXL on popular networks like email, Facebook, Twitter, and wikis.
The interaction of geography and world‐systems theory has created two groups of work. The first body of work uses world‐systems theory as its theoretical framework with minor levels of critique or change. The second body of work attempts to inform world‐ systems theory by explicitly including a geographical perspective. Human geographers attracted to world‐systems theory provide a perspective that highlights the role of agency in what is widely perceived to be a rigid structuralist approach. Key geographical concepts of region and place are viewed as social constructs created within an overarching context of structural imperatives. By conceptualizing places, states, and the macroregions of core, semiperiphery, and periphery as geographical scales, the role of agency in creating and maintaining the important structures and institutions of the capitalist world‐economy, such as hegemony, is illustrated. The geographer's interest in the creation of geographical scales results in analysis of the dynamism of the contemporary world‐system.
Published at a time when the U.S. government’s public diplomacy is in crisis, this book provides an exhaustive account of how it used to be done. The United States Information Agency was created in 1953 to "tell America’s story to the world" and, by engaging with the world through international information, broadcasting, culture and exchange programs, became an essential element of American foreign policy during the Cold War. Based on newly declassified archives and more than 100 interviews with veterans of public diplomacy, from the Truman administration to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nicholas J. Cull relates both the achievements and the endemic flaws of American public diplomacy in this period. Major topics include the process by which the Truman and Eisenhower administrations built a massive overseas propaganda operation; the struggle of the Voice of America radio to base its output on journalistic truth; the challenge of presenting Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, and Watergate to the world; and the climactic confrontation with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. This study offers remarkable and new insights into the Cold War era.
This article analyzes U.S. news media coverage of foreign disasters, using a new data set on disasters, and incorporates variables representing several possible contextual influences on the amount of coverage. The most notable aspect of the results produced in this analysis is that when the magnitude of the event is controlled for, the only contextual influence that demonstrates the expected relationship with the amount of coverage is the distance from the United States. Several of the other contextual factors that have been argued to be significant determinants of international flows of news are not significant in the analysis.