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Wednesday, July 29 • 15:16 - 16:45
"The online identity of the Lebanese journalists: Private self/Public self" [CANCELLED]

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Author: Mirna Abou Zeid

Journalism has always been a profession who requires good contacts. For a journalist a wide network of contacts means a variety of sources and a multitude of stories. So the bigger his network is, the better it is for a journalist to succeed and access a leading position. Journalism is a profession of networking also and mostly because it is a profession of broadcasting and the bigger its audience is, the better it is for a news organization. The same principle applies for individual journalists, especially for the leading figures whom are considered by the public as opinion leaders. With the social media expanding, journalism is experiencing major changes and is becoming more challenging. 

Social Media have enormously amplified each and everyone’s connecting and networking opportunities. We live in an increasing networked society that affect people’s lives in different ways. Understanding the implication of social network platforms involves analyzing the behaviors of their users: why and how do they use these networks, what kind of relations they engage over social networks, and what data they exchange with their connections. Social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram… satisfy in some way each person’s desire for recognition and fame. They give everyone her or his quarter hour of celebrity and a flattering sense of admiration leading to a growing aspiration for exposure. The opposite side is the interference between the private life and the public, exposed life. In some intellectual and academic circles, privacy is considered as the most challenging impact of the e-existence. In this over connected society, where stands the boundary between the private self and the public self? 

Another critical issue of the e-being is the matching between the real self and the e-self. The social networks, giving anonymous people the ability to rapidly become renowned, amassing “likers” and “followers” for any reason, establish a new form of leadership. The utopia of this new connected era, proclaiming a new world where no borders stand between peoples and cultures, where no dictators can mislead their people, where no crucial information can be held from public, where new community leadership can rise and stand for people’s right were boosted by the Arab spring. Ordinary individuals with no previous civic nor political engagement, like Waël Ghoneim became public leading figures of the “Facebook revolution”. 
These challenging implications of the social media involve journalists’ use of the social networks either in a private or a professional way. Journalists, as public figures, have experienced an exponential rise of their celebrity over the social networks, as people tend to connect with them and therefore count these renowned people as “friends”. This leads to ask if journalists are using their networking assets to develop a leadership. Journalists are by definition engaged in social and political change, are the social network platforms enabling them to encounter their employing organizations policies and engage in a more personal way, political and social issues and thus shaping public opinion tendency? In other words are journalists playing the role of opinion leaders? 

This research project intends to study how the Lebanese journalists use the social media in particular Facebook and Twitter. A quantitative study will be conducted among the news organizations employed journalists to identify their different practices between personal and professional. In parallel a qualitative study will consider a representative sample of prominent journalists, including senior reporters, main anchors, and chief editors… from various media outlets to analyze their online identities: their profiles, their followers, and the data they exchange… This analysis shall be completed by in depth interviews with these journalists to apprehend their understanding of their social networks practices and their impact over their profession. These facts will help appreciate the implications of the social media on the news production and transmission, and answer the above questions concerning journalists and leadership, and the distinction between the private self and the public self of journalists on the social networks. 


Wednesday July 29, 2015 15:16 - 16:45
(7th Floor) Room TRS1-129 (Ted Rogers School of Management) 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3

Attendees (6)