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(Re-) Introducing the Australian Twitter News Index

Posted In News, Projects - By On Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 With 0 Comments

The Australian Twitter News Index (ATNIX) is a long-term project in the QUT Digital Media Research Centre that has gathered data on Australian news sharing on Twitter since mid-2012. ATNIX tracks the sharing of links to some 35 Australian news outlets on Twitter on a continuous basis. It has documented the overall stability of Australian Twitter users’ preferences for specific news sources (especially ABC News and the Sydney Morning Herald), tested the overlap in content-sharing audiences between news outlets with different editorial and ideological orientations, and reported on the most popular news stories during specific timeframes.

In early 2020, we substantially updated the underlying ATNIX architecture. Most importantly, we now reduce the various URLs that may lead to the same story to a single canonical URL, in order to arrive at a reliable count for how often a story has been shared (rather than just how often a particular URL variation has been shared). This has become necessary because many news sites incorporate part of the story headline into its URL – but headlines may change after publication, and so multiple different URLs may point to the same story in the end.

ATNIX tracks the sharing of stories from most major Australian news outlets – from ABC News to New Matilda and beyond. We exclude international outlets with an Australian presence (such as The Guardian Australia or Mail Online Australia), because the majority of their content originates from outside of Australia, but we continue to include The Conversation because it remains Australian-based and sources a substantial amount of its content from Australian authors. The data gathered for ATNIX include all tweets, by Australian as well as international Twitter accounts, that link to the domains of these Australian news outlets. From these, we exclude links to their homepages as well as to non-news content.

The ATNIX Twitter account (@_ATNIX_) posts half-daily, daily, and weekly updates on trending Australian news stories, and ATNIX also provides an interactive dashboard with live and historical data on sharing patterns for Australian news, at http://bit.ly/_ATNIX_ and above. In earlier years, ATNIX analysis was published in a regular column in The Conversation (https://theconversation.com/columns/axel-bruns-1433).

The Australian Twitter News Index has reported on patterns in the sharing of Australian news content through Twitter for many years; it has documented the overall stability of Australian Twitter users’ preferences for specific news sources (especially ABC News and the Sydney Morning Herald), tested the overlap in content-sharing audiences between news outlets with different editorial and ideological orientations, and reported on the most popular news stories during specific timeframes.

Datasets analogous to ATNIX are also being collected for Germany, the Nordic countries, Spain, and a selection of suspected sources of mis- and disinformation.

Key scholarly discussions of ATNIX and its data can be found in:

Bruns, A. (2016). Big Data Analysis. In T. Witschge, C. W. Anderson, D. Domingo, & A. Hermida (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Digital Journalism (pp. 509-527). Sage. https://eprints.qut.edu.au/102642/

Bruns, A. (2017). Making Audience Engagement Visible: Publics for Journalism on Social Media Platforms. In B. Franklin & S. A. Eldridge II (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Digital Journalism Studies (pp. 325-334). Routledge. https://eprints.qut.edu.au/102644/

For further questions about ATNIX and its datasets, please contact the project leader, Prof. Axel Bruns.

About the Author

- Dr Axel Bruns is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

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