Today, we are releasing the summary of findings from Dr. Greenhow and her team which resulted from The Daily community, a Facebook news application published by the student newspaper covering the University of Minnesota.
Our research reports from the Hot Dish climate change community are available here. Both studies were made possibly by generous funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (New Facebook Applications to Engage Youth in News). A full background on our research is available here. Separately, an analysis of the use of this Facebook technology in a pilot setting at the University of Washington school of communications is available here.
Here is an excerpt of The Daily study (download the pdf):
Counter to the decline in young people’s (print‐based) reading for pleasure and traditional media consumption is a noted increase in out‐of‐school online reading and writing through online fan fiction and social network sites. Yet, according to the Pew research institute, over one third of people under 25 get no news on a daily basis. However, teens spend many hours a week online (a recent British study said 31), particularly on Facebook ‐‐ the most‐trafficked social media site in the world. Facebook has more than 250 million active members.
Can youth be persuaded to critically engage in news and conversation ‐‐ on Facebook? Can they feel a sense of community? Furthermore, can their involvement translate into real‐world actions, or will it consist solely of virtual activism? And, if we understood how young people prefer to manipulate, produce and talk through information online, would that move us closer to understanding how to develop successful media‐rich and educational environments?
Answering such questions is critical. If we hope to inform, educate and mobilize an engaged citizenry — as the vision for not only the future of news industries but also for full participation in a 21st century democracy says we should — we need to make sharing news and experiences fit easily into teens' lives and be easily tracked and observed to ensure success.
1. Correlations between visits to social network sites and visits to news Web sites, as well as other online behaviors, suggest the potential of integrating applications like The Daily into young people’s online social networking routines.
2. As a vehicle to express opinions, stay informed, and connect with a local community, social media publications like The Daily may have an advantage over traditional news sites.
3. Interest in The Daily application’s focal topic — University of Minnesota community issues — increased. Daily users mostly used the application for what it was intended, namely, to engage them in campus-related issues.
4. The Daily application attracted a base of users who were already active in the community. The profile for these users and the high rate of viral invites, suggest that social media publications such as The Daily might not only attract “influentials,” but that these highly connected individuals will also invite their friends.
5. Examination of digital literacy practices reveals Daily users engaged in scanning stories rather than reading in full. Users participated in a range of non-school online reading and writing activities via social network sites, suggesting the potential for future applications.
For complete details, please download Summary of Findings for MnDaily Research (pdf)
- NewsCloud & University of Minnesota Project Research Background
- Summary of research findings for the Hot Dish, climate change community
- University of Washington Analysis of NewsCloud's Facebook Application In:Site and Related Curriculum
- Media coverage of Hot Dish, MnDaily and our research
- Background on NewsCloud's Facebook application technology services
- Download the open source code used to power Hot Dish and MnDaily