Political Tweets and Mainstream News Impact in India: A Mixed Methods Investigation into Political Outreach

Abstract

Citizens’ perception of politicians and political issues is increasingly influenced by social media. However, little is known about the potential of second order effects of social media in parts of the world where the majority of voting citizens are not online. In this paper, we examine whether a politician can move to communicating through social media as their primary means of outreach, and still present their message to the mainstream population through traditional media. By studying of the use of Twitter by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi between 2009 and 2015, the second-most followed elected official in the world, we present evidence of the impact of social media on print news. We use computational text mining techniques to automatically identify print news reports that use Modi’s tweets as a source, alongside manual qualitative coding of tweets to analyze the role of tweet themes in print news coverage. We conclude that while Modi’s social media messaging does get coverage in the print news, it is his more “newsworthy” tweets, such as references to celebrities, other politicians, or major events such as holidays that have a greater likelihood of coverage.

Publication
Proceedings of the 1st ACM SIGCAS Conference on Computing and Sustainable Societies