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Viral journalism. Strategy, tactics and limitations of the fast spread of content on social media: Case study of the United Kingdom quality publications

A Research Paper by Anastasia Denisova, published by Journalism

Journalism has been under much strain in the recent decades. It has had to adapt to the changing rhythms of media consumption as much as to the benevolence of social media networks that constantly change algorithms of how journalism is displayed. At the same time, viral communication of all sorts – from memes to GIFs and widespread amateur entertaining videos – is seen by millions. The purpose of this article is to examine the effort of online journalism to compete with viral storytelling. ‘Viral journalism’ is defined as the strategy and tactics to promote quality media stories on the internet in order to gain maximum exposure and sharing. This phenomenon is not to be mistaken with ‘clickbait’, which entails catchy, but often misleading, headlines. This article is based on qualitative interviews with a variety of social media editors and other journalists in the UK: from The Economist to The Guardian. It reveals that quality UK media deploy a range of inventive engaging tactics, but reject virality as a long-term strategy. The media professionals interviewed raised many concerns about virality, indicating that exploiting viral technics may result in reputational damage and alienating loyal readers.

Keywords 

Digital journalism, clickbait, social media, audience engagement, memes
Anastasia Denisova

About

Anastasia Denisova is a Lecturer in Social Media at CAMRI, University of Westminster. Before starting her academic career, she worked as a journalist in Russia for over a decade in the capacity of television news editor and reporter for NTV Broadcasting company, editor at Aeroflot Inflight magazine, and a freelance reporter and columnist for the major magazines, including GEO, Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Marie Claire and many others. Her work has received the industry and community recognition, including the French government’s award for the best publication on France in Russian in 2014 (the feature for GEO Russia).

Details

Date
28 March 2022
Research Area
Published By
Journalism
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CAMRI | Viral journalism. Strategy, tactics and limitations of the fast spread of content on social media: Case study of the United Kingdom quality publications - CAMRI
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