Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kelli S. Burns, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roxanne Watson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Travis R. Bell, Ph.D.


Principles of journalism, verifying misinformation, TV news viewership, media convergence, quantitative online survey, LinkedIn


Spurred by the rapid influence of social media in the news industry, an increased number of TV news stations have started assigning dedicated social media journalists (SMJ) in newsrooms to monitor, gather, verify, share news, and engage with audiences on the streams of social media. Consequently, drawing on the diffusion of innovation theory, the present study probes into TV journalists’ perceptions of the implications of the role of this new type of TV professionals in the identity and profession of journalism, the quality of news pertaining to the verification of misinformation, and the news audiences’ attractions and viewership by capitalizing on audience engagement affordances.

Moreover, based on an online survey delivered primarily via LinkedIn to a broad spectrum of TV journalists consisting of broadcast, website, and social media journalists in three varied regions of the world—the U.S, Western Europe, and the Middle East—the study demonstrates some concerns about the effects on the code of ethics of journalism. However, most of the surveyed journalists believed that the role of social media journalists SMJ is consistent with the general principles tethered to the professional identity of journalists. Additionally, the study underlines the weight of this role to verify information gleaned from social media before being used in TV news and asserts the significance of engaging with TV audiences to increase the news viewership and enhance their attractions. Accordingly, the study argues that espousing the role of SMJ has become an inevitable fashion in social media-embedded newsrooms. However, the research documents that many TV news channels have broadcast misinformation spread on social media. Furthermore, it unfolds that far less attention has been paid in many TV newsrooms to the potentially positive and beneficial utility of the role of SMJ concerning audience engagement. It signals that a lack of time, tools, strategy, and

training causes the dilution of the role quality of SMJ, thereby suggesting that news channels can aggressively tap into this role if these obstacles are conquered.

Finally, since research on this concern is still scant at its initial stage, the study shows some venues for future studies in this direction.