News on TıkTok: An Analysıs on Newspapers' Use of TıkTok
Doç. Dr. Aysel Çetinkaya
Journalism is undergoing a rapid change and transformation like never before. Due to structural changes affecting news production, distribution and the profession in this process of change and transformation, the news media, which aims to reach its target audience effectively, is trying to continue its existence in a platform-dominated media ecosystem. In this process, which Nieborg and Poell (2018) call “platformisation”, it is seen that the traditional media’s dependence on social media has increased and that they are trying to produce content by adapting to the working/consumption logic specific to platforms. Zelizer (2019) emphasises that technology has brought innovations in style, format, production and distribution processes and business models, forcing companies to adapt to technology in order to keep up with factors outside themselves. From this perspective, it is necessary to examine how journalism uses the technology of the time, how it operates on different platforms, what tools it has developed to interact with users, and how news feeds have changed.
In a media ecosystem where platforms gain importance, the question of how journalism reacts to TikTok, which attracts attention with its growth rate, young user base, dynamic and entertainment-oriented content elements, also arouses curiosity. Based on this question, this report aims to reveal which news frames the news media uses intensively on TikTok and whether the news are produced in accordance with TikTok’s technical infrastructure.
In the report, a comprehensive content analysis was conducted on the news shared on the official TikTok accounts of Evrensel, Habertürk, Hürriyet, Sabah, Sözcü and Takvim newspapers between 1 January 2023 and 31 March 2023. Within the scope of the analysis, the news were analysed in terms of news frame, narrative tone, theme, function, content elements and interaction levels. The newspapers included in the analysis were selected using the purposive sampling technique, taking into account the possibility of diversity in terms of the ideologies they advocate and the differences in the social group or class they represent.
The prominent findings of the research, in which a total of 2,063 data were analysed, are as follows:
- As in traditional media, the news shared on TikTok is published with messages in line with the ideological approach of the newspaper as well as the profile and expectations of the target audience. Therefore, it can be claimed that the news media approaches TikTok as an extension of traditional media.
- Looking at the daily sharing frequency of newspapers that continue their publishing activities on TikTok, it is seen that all newspapers except Evrensel share three to six news items per day.
- Approximately 85 percent of the news frames shared on the TikTok accounts of newspapers are about people and place. While the news items about people are usually about politicians, ordinary people who are on the agenda on social media, celebrities and citizens affected by the earthquake disaster centred in Kahramanmaraş; the news items about places cover a disaster area or foreign news.
- When the narrative tone of the news in the TikTok accounts of the newspapers is evaluated, it has been observed that the news published by Hürriyet, Sabah and Takvim mostly has a positive language compared to the negatively related news while Evrensel is the only newspaper which has a higher number of negative news than the positive ones. It has also been noted that Sözcü and Habertürk prefer to publish the majority of their news with a neutral tone.
- It is seen that most of the news shared on the TikTok accounts of newspapers are about politics– and disaster-themed news since the period of observation also covered the Kahramanmaraş earthquake. While the rate of politics-themed news is 43.57 percent, the rate of disaster-themed news is 22.4 percent. After disaster news, the most shared news themes are magazine and economy.
- The news shared on the TikTok accounts of newspapers resist the entertainment function that lies at the core of the TikTok platform and serve the informative function that lies at the core of journalism. Newspapers continue to inform the public about actual news and shape public opinion through their TikTok accounts.
- While the average rate of newspapers sharing their content with audio and animated content is 93.93 percent, it is noteworthy that they mostly share only text, hashtags and corporate logos. While filters are not used, the use of emoji and time tags is limited.
- When we look at the interaction levels of the content shared in the TikTok accounts of the newspapers in the sample, Sabah received the highest number of likes, saves and shares, while Takvim received the highest number of comments. It is possible to argue that the similar content policies of these two newspapers operating under the Turkuvaz Media Group on TikTok, high number of followers, the use of special frames in content presentations and the intensive use of hashtags in news texts affect the interaction rates.
- In order to make a social media account look more professional and to increase the level of interaction on a social media platform, the structure and features of a social media platform -in our case, TikTok- should be taken into consideration while producing original content.
Assoc. Prof. Aysel Çetinkaya
Assoc. Prof. Aysel Çetinkaya worked as a Research Assistant at Kocaeli University, Faculty of Communication, Advertising Department between 2013-2017, and as an Assistant Professor in the Journalism Department of the same faculty between 2017-2021. Currently working as an Associate Professor in the same department, Çetinkaya’s academic interests include media economy, online journalism, digital marketing and social media.