Social network sites have allowed audiences to become increasingly active in the creation, analysis and circulation of news online. News sharing is a crucial behavior to understand in an era where professionally produced content must compete with countless other information sources for attention and visibility. Numerous studies have examined the posting behaviors themselves of social media users; however research has not yet determined the underlying social-psychological reasoning behind decisions to post news stories on social network sites. This study argues that psychological sense of community offers a lens with which to understand news sharing not as a random act, but as reasoned behavior among individuals who are aware of other community members, who care about the wellbeing of the group as a whole, and who are bound together by meaningful interactions and conversations. Broadly, this study examines why audiences seek out and share news stories amongst themselves. Specifically, it proposes and tests a model that integrates three different research frameworks that have never before been brought together, enabling us to identify the roles that overall news consumption, social network site perceptions and behaviors, and psychological sense of community play in encouraging audience members to share news stories with each other on social network sites. An online survey was distributed to test the validity of the research model, returning 344 responses. The empirical analyses provide partial support for the proposed research model. News consumption and community-related outcome expectations are clearly the most important factors in predicting news sharing on Facebook. However, while respondents did report moderate levels of PSOC, its role in the news sharing model is less clear.This study advances our understanding of the behaviors and social psychological processes that impact knowledge sharing on social media, and provides insight into the value of social media and their audiences to professional news organizations. As a whole, this study contributes to a deeper understanding of how human beings make use of digital technologies and social media, and the implications of that use on the role of journalism in building an informed citizenry.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. May 2014. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor:Dan Sullivan. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 112 pages, appendix A.
Olsen, Natalie Christine.
The Social News System: Examining the Relationship between Psychological Sense of Community, Social Network Site Use, and News Sharing Behaviors.
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