Abstract

Purpose - Approximately 75% of journalists in Western society maintain a Twitter account. This significant presence underscores Twitter's impact on the public agenda. The purpose of this paper is to gain an understanding of journalists' practices on Twitter, from the perspective of journalists in Israel, and explore whether journalists use Twitter's potential as a pluralistic platform of expression.Design/methodology/approach - The authors conducted in-depth interviews with leading journalists working on traditional media and those active on Twitter in Israel.Findings - Although Twitter is an open, inclusive platform for opinion exchange, in which journalists have a sense of unfettered freedom of expression, findings indicate that in Israel, Twitter effectively functions as an echo chamber used by a clique of journalists and politicians in a manner than reifies the hegemonic system. The majority of the public do not use Twitter to draw attention to contentious issues, and journalists almost exclusively continue to set and control the agenda on this platform. As a result, journalists become even more disconnected from society. Therefore, Twitter has been found to be a complementary platform to traditional media that helps to preserve the existing social order.Social implications - This paper offers not only a theoretical contribution but also social relevance, as the topics and issues discussed in the paper might concern citizens and policymakers. This paper contributes to the debate on freedom of the press, which is an important principle of pluralism and democracy. This study illustrates that the general public's opinions remain unheard-of on Twitter. Therefore, despite its potential to express a variety of opinions and voices, Twitter does not undermine the existing social order, but it is one of the cultural frameworks that help preserve the existing social order and reinforce it through uniform conformity thinking.Originality/value - The novelty of this research lies in its identification and analysis of the characteristics of the Twitter scene, its meanings and its implications from the perspective of journalists. In addition, this research investigates the relationships forged in the Twitter space between journalists and politicians and among journalists themselves.Peer review - The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR07-2020-0324


Authors

Laor, Tal

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  • 1 reviewer
  • pre-publication peer review (FINAL ROUND)
    Decision Letter
    2021/04/25

    25-Apr-2021

    Dear Laor, Tal

    It is a pleasure to accept your manuscript OIR-07-2020-0324.R2, entitled "Twitter as a Clique: Journalists’ patterns of Twitter use in Israel" in its current form for publication in Online Information Review. Please note, no further changes can be made to your manuscript.

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    Reviewer report
    2021/04/21

    This is an important work that sheds light on the understanding of journalists’ practices on Twitter, from the perspective of journalists in Israel. If I could suggest a small improvement, that would be that the author(w) could elaborate a bit more on the neomarxist theory and futher engage with it in the Discussion section. It seems that the author(s) used only one reference to this theory despite the fact that it argues that it is based on this theory.

    Also, it would be better if the the author(s) could move the paragraph after the Findiings section ("The interviews were analyzed..".) to the methodology section, as it refers to the way that the interviews were analyzed.

    Finally, there are just some minor spelling mistakes that need to be taken care of, such as " Tweeter: used in various senentces

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    Reviewer report
    2021/04/11

    The paper is interesting, and it demonstrates theoretical and social relevance. The author applied the suggested recommendations, and the paper is now more focused, coherent, and easier to read. My recommendation is to accept the paper.

    Reviewed by
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    Author Response
    2021/03/15

    Dear editor Dr. Eugenia Siapera,
    I was very pleased to read that the reviewers have recommended my manuscript ‘Twitter as a Clique: Journalists’ Patterns of Twitter Use in Israel’ for publication and I am honoured to submit the revised version, according to the first reviewer’s minor revision comments. All the revisions are highlighted in yellow throughout the manuscript.
    • As suggested by the reviewer I improved the structure by adding a separate chapter for the research questions.
    • The reviewer suggested rephrasing a phrase on page 9 - “As exposure increases, the likelihood of interactions with politicians and with other journalists also increases”- since evidence for this is missing, and therefore I omitted it.
    • The reviewer recommended a clarification whether the participants of this study represent different groups and therefore I added the information that the participants of this study do not represent different groups in the society in the limitation chapter.
    • The research questions have been rephrased using the same phrasing to maintain their consistency throughout the manuscript, as recommended by the reviewer.
    • The reviewer suggested adding a clarification that most of the answers of the participants are addressed in the study as perceptions of journalists on their role in the agenda-setting process by using Twitter. Therefore, I added the clarification, as recommended by the reviewer.
    • I added a sentence about the chosen structure of the discussion and conclusion chapter, to guide the reader, as recommended by the reviewer.
    • The reviewer pointed that the findings might have been different for independent journalists not only for the part of credibility and professional solidarity, but also for the level of critical writing, alignment with the mainstream, and engagement with the general public. Therefore, I added this comment to the limitations section.
    • As recommended by the reviewer, the manuscript has gone under thorough linguistic editing.
    Best regards,
    Tal Laor

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  • pre-publication peer review (ROUND 2)
    Decision Letter
    2021/02/07

    07-Feb-2021

    Dear Dr. Laor,

    Manuscript ID OIR-07-2020-0324.R1 entitled "Twitter as a Clique: Journalists’ patterns of Twitter use in Israel" which you submitted to Online Information Review, has been reviewed. The comments of the reviewer(s) are included at the bottom of this letter.

    The reviewer(s) have recommended publication, but also suggest some minor revisions to your manuscript. Therefore, I invite you to respond to the reviewer(s)' comments and revise your manuscript. Please also ensure that in doing so your paper does not exceed the maximum word length of 10000 words and that it meets all the requirements of the author guidelines at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=oir&PHPSESSID;=ubl727mru90lg3hc8sa5p5qrt2."

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    Reviewer(s)' Comments to Author:
    Reviewer: 1

    Recommendation: Minor Revision

    Comments:
    The paper is interesting and demonstrates theoretical and social relevance. The author applied most of the previous recommendations, and the paper is now more focused, coherent, and easier to read. However, minor clarifications, changes of structures, editing and rephrasing of some statements are still needed, as well as a thorough proofreading. My recommendation is to accept the paper after minor revision. Please see the full review for further details.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: The paper focuses on patterns of twitter’s use by journalists in Israel. It also addresses the potential impact of those patterns on the public discourse and agenda-setting. The topic matches the scope of Online Information Review, which is devoted to research in the field of digital information and communication, as well as related technologies. It can interest the journal’s audiences, as it addresses some of the areas on which the journal focuses, such as online communities, social networking, and social media, including online political communication. The topics discussed in the paper might be of interest for media professionals, citizens, and policy makers. Therefore, the paper demonstrates both theoretical contribution and social relevance.

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: The paper provides a detailed literature review on topics related to the research questions. It presents studies about how social media transformed journalists’ work; some information and statistics about Twitter in general and previous studies about journalists using this platform. Then it gives an overview about neo-Marxism and mass media in Israel. The review demonstrates an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources.

    As suggested, the author added some explanation, introduction, and conclusion to most of the parts, and it helps the reader to follow the flow of ideas. The author also makes the connections between the existing literature and the current study. However, the structure can still be improved. For example, it seems that the mentions about the case study should be either under the same section or included each under the relevant section. In the same way, the relation of the research questions to the literature review can be better connected and explained.

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: The methodology which was chosen to answer the research question is semi-structured in-depth interviews with 18 journalists. The journalists were chosen by the number of their followers (over 10,000 followers) and the frequency of their activity in Twitter (at least three tweets a week).

    The criteria for choosing the journalists by their level of exposure is relevant, as the aim is to learn about the discourse and its influence. However, I still find the author’s argument that “As exposure increases, the likelihood of interactions with politicians and with other journalists also increases” (page 9) as a problematic argument. It is not clear if the author implies on causation between those variables, and evidence for this is missing. Further justification or rephrasing of this statement can solve this problem.

    Examples for the questions for the participants were added, as well as clarification regarding the research questions on which they are supposed to answer. However, the research questions are presented in a slightly different way along the paper – at the literature review, the beginning of the methodology part, and before the examples of the interview questions. I am not sure that the different questions (or their phrasing) state the same meaning, and it is important to maintain their consistency, even if the author choose to use different phrasing. Otherwise, further explanation is needed.

    Further information was added about the journalists who participated in the interview, and the areas they cover. As suggested, the fact that all the participants represent the mainstream media is mentioned later as one of the limitations of the study. However, if the participants represent different groups in the society (for example religious people, Arabs, women, etc.) it is recommended to mention it in this section.

    Additional explanation was added about the consent of the participants and their understanding of the research context and their privacy – which demonstrate that the study complies with research ethics.

    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: The introduction of the chapter is helpful and guides the reader about the structure in which the results are presented. The chapter’s three parts are aligned with the three main themes which the author identified in the interviews: Twitter as a closed guild that reinforced the agenda, similarities between Twitter and traditional platforms, and credibility and professionalism in Twitter.

    The division between the findings and the discussion in the paper is clearer and better edited in this version. Most of the findings are explained in the context of previous studies later, in the chapter of the conclusion and discussion.

    Most of the quotes of the journalists do not include clear examples of agenda setting, nor a clear explanation to who are their 10,000 followers apart of politicians and other journalists. The explanation can perhaps be related to inactive followers, or by referring only to those who engage with the journalists’ conversations on this platform. Whatever the explanation is, and as this was not studied directly in this project (for example, by looking at the followers, the networks, or the tweets and retweets themselves), I think it better to address most of the answers as perceptions of journalists on their role in the agenda-setting process by using Twitter.

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: The summary and conclusion of the paper discuss the main findings about journalists’ practices on Twitter, including credibility and professionalism, freedom of expression, and Twitter as an agenda setting tool. However, there is some room for improvement in the way the discussion is unfold, in a way which is better organised for the reader. For example, it is recommended to maintain the same order of those topics throughout the paper’s parts, to make it easier for the reader to follow. Alternatively, it is recommended to add a short sentence about the chosen structure, to guide the reader.

    Further important explanation was added about the findings, including comparison to previous studies, and a distinction between the current case studies to other states, where Twitter is more popular, and is used by many in the general public. Addressing the limitations of the study is another important addition to the paper (page 22). I think that it is important to mention that the study did not include independent journalists – as the author did (page 20). However, the finding might have been different for independent journalists not only for the part of credibility and professional solidarity, but also for the level of critical writing, alignment with the mainstream and engagement with the general public. This should be mentioned as well, perhaps as part of the limitations of the study.

    Whether they work in the leading media channels or independent media, journalists can bring different stories and represent different voices in the society. In other words, there is a difference between public engagement and participation and pluralism. It was not mentioned whether the participants in the study include diverse groups in the society, and if they do – they can represent other voices. As there is no space or screen time limitation on Twitter, they can post stories which do not necessarily contradict the hegemony, but just do not receive enough attention – not necessarily due to their attempt to maintain social order, but only due to the characteristics and limitations of other platforms.

    As suggested, some of the findings are now phrased in a more cautious and accurate way, For example, the arguments in page 21, lines 9-11, and lines 51-60. This approach can be applied to additional arguments, such as the one in page 22, lines 16-29, as the level of impact of the general public on the agenda was not directly measured in this study.

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: By studying journalists’ behaviour on Twitter in Israel, the paper adds to the knowledge about the way journalists in Israel use social media in their work. The implication of the findings, as the author identifies, is that the discourse on Twitter leads to disconnection between journalists and the wider public, helps to preserve the existing social order, and reinforce it through uniform conformity thinking. The study has the potential to be the basis of further research or suggest recommendations which will bridge the gap between theory and practice.

    Having said that, the limitations of the current study also limit its potential implications on society. For example, as the author also mentioned, the findings seem to be more relevant to Israel than other case studies, and can not necessarily be generalised to other societies, or other social media platforms. However, the findings still might be used by relevant actors, such as in a discussion among journalists and media professionals, relevant regulators, politicians, as well as the general public. It is recommended to mention it as a potential impact.

    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: Overall, the paper is readable and expresses its case, taking in consideration the expected knowledge of the journal’s readership. Some parts were improved since the first submission of the paper. However, there are still some arguments, which require several readings, and can be better written and explained. Proofreading is needed, as there are typos, syntax errors and punctuation issues, as well as long sentences of four or five lines.

    Reviewer: 2

    Recommendation: Accept

    Comments:
    All the comments have been taken into consideration and the paper has been significantly improved.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: The paper sheds a light on the way that journalists in Israel use Twitter.The novelty of this research lies in its identification and analysis of the characteristics, meanings, and implications of the Twitter scene from the perspective of journalists in Israel, and their perceptions of Twitter as a platform for disseminating diverse voices that are typically unheard in traditional media. Its findings are of great importance.

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: The paper demonstrates an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cites an appropriate range of literature sources. There are plenty references to significant work. The literature review is up-to-date and includes work that was published in Online Information Review.

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: The paper's argument is built on an appropriate base of theory, and concepts. The research on which the paper is based has been well designed. The methods employed are appropriate and fully explained. All issues of research ethics have been adequately identified and addressed.

    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: Results are now presented dlearly and analysed appropriately

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: There is an adequate discussion about the relation between empirical findings and previous work. The paper present a robust and coherent argument. Theoretical concepts are articulated well and used appropriatel. The conclusions tie together the other elements of the paper.

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: The paper clearly identifies implications for research, practice and/or society. It bridges the gap between theory and practice. The research could be used in teaching, to influence public policy, and in research (contributing to the body of knowledge).

    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: The paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership. Attention has been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.

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    Reviewer report
    2021/02/04

    All the comments have been taken into consideration and the paper has been significally improved.

    Cite this review
    Reviewer report
    2021/01/27

    The paper is interesting and demonstrates theoretical and social relevance. The author applied most of the previous recommendations, and the paper is now more focused, coherent, and easier to read. However, minor clarifications, changes of structures, editing and rephrasing of some statements are still needed, as well as a thorough proofreading. My recommendation is to accept the paper after minor revision. Please see the full review for further details.

    Reviewed by
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    Author Response
    2020/12/23

    Dear Dr Andrew J Browne,

    I hereby attached the revised version of my manuscript "Twitter as a Clique: Journalists’ Patterns of Twitter Use in Israel", regarding the entire comments of the reviewers. I addressed to all of the comments and implemented the revisions that the reviewers suggested.
    The revisions and the additions are highlighted in yellow throughout the manuscript.
    I truly hope you will find the revised manuscript suitable for publication.

    Reviewer 1:
    1. Regarding comment 1- I expanded and elaborate the issue concerning the finding that most of journalists in Israel do not take at all into consideration people’s tweets.
    2. Regarding comment 2 - I added a paragraph regarding the media landscape of Israel.
    3. Regarding comment 3 – I revised the structure, as suggested, as the revised version begins with the “Journalism in the age of social networking” section and then the rest of the sections.
    4. Regarding comment 4 – I added headlines and sub - headings regarding the content.
    5. Regarding comment 5- I added in depth explanations and details on how the interviews were designed, and specifically on the way that the participants were chosen.
    6. Regarding comment 6 – I clarified the research questions and added a summary of each theme.
    7. Regarding comment 7 – I elaborated on the finding that most of journalists in Israel do not take at all into consideration people’s tweets to empower and demonstrate the significant contribution of the current research.
    8. Regarding comment 8 – I added more updated literature review, including research published in Online Information Review.
    9. Regarding comment 9 – The structure of the results section has been revised with more sub headings as suggested.
    10. Regarding comment 10 – With regards to the main argument, as I strengthened the argument with more examples and explanations.
    11. Regarding comment 11- The paper has gone under a thorough linguistic editing.

    Reviewer 2:
    1. Regarding comment 1 and 2 - I added linking phrases to avoid confusion, and to enable further guidance for the reader.
    2. Regarding comment 3 – The work of Aharony (2012), which focuses on the way political leaders in Israel use Twitter was added.
    3. Regarding comment 4 – The significant contribution of this research is now stated more clearly, as the paper demonstrates not only theoretical contribution but also social relevance.
    4. Regarding comment 5 - I added a short conclusion to each part of the review, to explain the way the paper moves from one part to another and to create a more coherent structure that will help the readers to follow the paper’s arguments.
    5. Regarding comment 6 – I made a clear distinction between the existing literature about relevant topics in which the paper discusses, and the gap that it tries to fill, as suggested by the reviewer. In addition I stated clearly the conclusion of the current paper’s added value.
    6. Regarding comment 7 – I added references to additional theories and significant literature which are related to the topic and concepts which are used throughout the paper.
    7. Regarding comment 8 – I added information and facts about the use of Twitter in Israel, such as number of users vs. other social media platforms), patterns of uses, and some demographic characteristics.
    8. Regarding comment 9 – I added a brief explanation about the range of journalists’ roles or styles, and the focus on the informative aspect of their job.
    9. Regarding comment 10 – The paragraph has been removed, as suggested.
    10. Regarding comment 11 and 12 – The research questions has been revised and are now presented in relation to the literature review. In addition the questions have been be rephrased and now emphasize the added value of this study.
    11. Regarding comment 13 – I added further clarification for the selection of the participants and the information on the journalists who were interviewed has been completed. I elaborated on the characteristics of the journalists including description on the material that the journalists deal with (current events, politics, crime and the police, military, law) and the fact that the journalists represent various media outlets in Israel as well as various platforms (TV, radio, print).
    12. Regarding comment 14 – I added some information about the journalists' audience.
    13. Regarding comment 15 – I added further justification regarding the chosen methodology. I added an explanation to preferring semi-structure interviews with journalists to answer the research question, over alternative methodologies, as the research focuses on the journalists' conceptions.
    14. Regarding comment 16 – I added a phrase regarding the interviewees' consent to participate in the research, to show that the study complies with research ethics.
    15. Regarding comment 17 – I added information regarding the questions asked in the interviews, and their connection to the research question.
    16. Regarding comment 18 – I added a brief introduction to the chapter, including an explanation about the way the results are presented.
    17. Regarding comment 19- I added reference to the fact that social media can serve as a credible source of information, as anyone can easily check the politician’s official page to verify a quote.
    18. Regarding comment 20- As part of the edit, the reference to deleting tweets was removed, to make the theme more coherent.
    19. Regarding comment 21 – The title “More of the same: Similarities between Twitter and traditional platforms” has been revised.
    20. Regarding comment 22 – I elaborated on the conclusion regarding the informal editorial oversight and its affects.
    21. Regarding comment 23 – I referred to the comment regarding interviewing independent journalists, who are not affiliated with the mainstream media which reflects the hegemony as a future research.
    22. Regarding comment 24 – I added an explanation on how Twitter expands the close relationships between journalists in both private and professional lives that exist also in traditional media (Donsbach, 2004).
    23. Regarding comment 25 – I added example regarding the claim that the discourse on Twitter does not always start, remain, or ends on this platform.
    24. Regarding comment 26- I refined the conclusion and emphasized that the level of influence is based on the journalists’ perception.
    25. Regarding comment 27 - I added an explanation that from the journalists' point of views that refer to the followers who are decision makers and tend to ignore the others.
    26. Regarding comment 28 – I sharpened the claim that Twitter, even if it serves as an arena for journalists and politicians, yet the conversation between them is open to everyone. In that sense, the agenda-setting process becomes more transparent and accessible to all.
    27. Regarding comment 29 –I revised the conclusion chapter so that the final conclusion is now consistent with the findings and added explanations regarding opposite findings.
    28. Regarding comment 30- I added clarifications. In cases when the results are consistent with previous studies, I mentioned it and explain this consistency. In cases when the findings contradict previous results, I clearly stated that and suggest explanations to the differences.
    29. Regarding comment 31 and 32- The manuscript has been edited to make the manuscript more coherent
    30. Regarding comment 33 – I clarified the last sentence of the first paragraph.
    31. Regarding comment 34 – I added the figure of 75% to the introduction, to explain the choice of the research questions and their importance in the context of journalism in the age of digital social networks.
    32. Regarding comment 35 – I clarified the argument that refers to the functioning of Twitter as a tool for decision makers in media organizations and explained how Twitter is a tool that complements the agenda setting in the traditional media through the journalists who work both in the traditional media and Twitter as a complementary tool. In the end, journalists implement the editors' agenda, who are tools in the hands of the decision makers.
    33. Regarding comment 36 –The conclusion that “journalists in the current research noted very little interaction with the "common people," and reported that their activity on Twitter was comprised almost exclusively by interactions among journalists and between journalists and politicians.” was added to the findings.
    34. Regarding comment 37 – I added an explanation in the research limitations.
    35. Regarding comment 38 – I added references as suggested to the discussion and the abstract, raising the questions regarding generalizations to other societies and other social media platforms.
    36. Regarding comment 39 and 40 – The manuscript went under a thorough linguistic editing.

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  • pre-publication peer review (ROUND 1)
    Decision Letter
    2020/10/20

    &PHPSESSID20-Oct-2020;

    Dear Dr. Laor,

    Manuscript ID OIR-07-2020-0324 entitled "Twitter as a Clique: Journalists’ patterns of Twitter use in Israel" which you submitted to Online Information Review has been reviewed. The comments of the reviewer(s) are included at the bottom of this letter.

    The reviewers have recommended that you make major revisions to your manuscript prior to it being considered for publication.

    Please read their suggestions and if you choose to prepare a revised manuscript ensure that any changes that you make to your manuscript are highlighted, as well as described in your response to reviewers.

    Please also ensure that in doing so your paper does not exceed the maximum word length of 10000 words and that it meets all the requirements of the author guidelines at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=oir=ubl727mru90lg3hc8sa5p5qrt2."

    To revise your manuscript log into https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/oir and enter your Author Centre, where you will find your manuscript title listed under "Manuscripts with Decisions". Under "Actions" click on "Create a Revision". Your manuscript number has been appended to denote a revision.

    You will be unable to make your revisions on the originally submitted version of the manuscript. Instead, revise your manuscript using a word processing program and save it on your computer. Please also highlight the changes to your manuscript within the document by using the track changes mode in MS Word or by using bold or coloured text.

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    Reviewer(s)' Comments to Author:
    Reviewer: 1

    Recommendation: Major Revision

    Comments:

    This paper is based on in-depth interviews with leading journalists that are active on Twitter in Israel and aims to (1) describe the characteristics of journalists' activities on Twitter and (2) research whether journalists make use of Twitter’s potential as a pluralistic platform.
    Although the issue is quite interesting I believe that the paper needs some major revisions. In my opinion this paper mostly repeats and reaffirms already known findings and theories. This is evident also in the fact that almost every finding is consistent with previous researches that are also quoted and referenced in the discussion section. Perhaps the finding that most of journalists in Israel do not take at all into consideration people’s tweets is of some importance but the paper needs to further focus on this issue, expand on it and present it as its main contribution to theory.
    Also, I think that the paper needs more context on the media landscape of Israel since we are provided with minimum information about it.
    With regards to its structure, I believe that it should begin with the “Journalism in the age of social networking” section and then engage with the rest of the sections. Also the sub- heading would be much improved if more context and analysis was added, in contrast to its current form (for instance “Twitter”, “Journalists’ work” etc).
    Regarding the method used, I would like to read more details and information on the way that these interviews were designed, and specifically on the way that the participants were chosen. I certainly believe that the methodological part could benefit from more in depth explanation since there are still some issues that remain unanswered, such as how many journalists were approached in the beginning? We only learn that 18 responded but I wonder whether this number is actually representative. Also, I believe that the research questions need more clarification and explanation. For instance, the first RQ “What is the nature of journalists’ work on Twitter” seems to be further analysed under the prism of (1) credibility of reporting, (2) relationship with politicians and (3) relationship with audience. Also, the second RQ “Does Twitter function as a pluralistic platform with agenda-setting potential?”, should be rephrased to clarify that it is based on the interviewees’ personal opinions.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: In my opinion, this paper fails to make a significant theoretical contribution. It is based on in-depth interviews with leading journalists that are active on Twitter in Israel and aims to (1) describe the characteristics of journalists' activities on Twitter and (2) research whether journalists make use of Twitter’s potential as a pluralistic platform. Despite the effort however, I found that this paper mostly repeats and reaffirms already known findings and theories. This is evident also in the fact that almost every finding is consistent with previous researches that are also quoted and referenced in the discussion section. Perhaps the finding that most of journalists in Israel do not take at all into consideration people’s tweets is of some importance but the paper needs to further focus on this issue and expand on it.

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: The paper demonstrates an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cites an appropriate range of literature sources. However, I believe that it should engage more with this literature which could also be more updated. Also, I think that the paper needs more context on the media landscape of Israel since we are provided with minimum information about it. The paper doesn’t cite any relevant material published in Online Information Review.

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: The paper focuses on the characteristics of journalists' activities on Twitter, from the perspective of journalists in Israel. In this sense, interviews with leading journalists that are active on Twitter in Israel seems like an appropriate methodological tool. However, I would like to read more details and information on the way that these interviews were designed, and specifically on the way that the participants were chosen. I certainly believe that the methodological part could benefit from more in depth explanation since there are still some issues that remain unanswered, such as how many journalists were approached in the beginning? We only learn that 18 responded but I wonder whether this number is actually representative. Also, I believe that the research questions need more clarification and explanation. For instance, the first RQ “What is the nature of journalists’ work on Twitter” seems to be further analysed under the prism of (1) credibility of reporting, (2) relationship with politicians and (3) relationship with audience. Also, the second RQ “Does Twitter function as a pluralistic platform with agenda-setting potential?”, should be rephrased to clarify that it is based on the interviewees’ personal opinions.

    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: Yes, results are presented clearly and analysed appropriately although I believe that a better structure with more sub headings would improve the specific section.

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: Yes the relation between empirical findings and previous work is discussed and the paper engages with the literature and findings. The theoretical concepts are articulated quite well and used appropriately and the conclusions tie together adequately the other elements of the paper. With regards to the main argument, as I mentioned previously, I believe that it needs more strength since it mostly reaffirms previously published researches and theories.

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: In my opinion, the paper fails to identify any clear implications for research, practice and/or society as it mostly repeats and reaffirms already known theory.

    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: Yes the paper expresses clearly its case. Some minor language edits are in order. For instance, p. 3 line 4 “politicians user their”, p. 21, line 41 “adaptied”, etc.

    Reviewer: 2

    Recommendation: Minor Revision

    Comments:
    The paper is interesting and demonstrates theoretical and social relevance. Sometimes the editing and the presentation of the arguments create confusion, and it is recommended to amend it in a way which will enable further guidance for the reader. In some cases, more information or explanation can be helpful as well, to make the arguments stronger and to address potential critique. My recommendation is to accept the paper after minor revision. Please see the full review for more details.

    Additional Questions:
    Originality: Does the paper make a significant theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contribution to an area of importance, within the scope of the journal?: The paper focuses on patterns of twitter’s use by journalists in Israel. It aims to gain an understanding of the characteristics of journalists’ activities on Twitter, from the perspective of journalists in Israel, and to learn whether they use twitter’s potential as a pluralistic platform.

    By studying journalists’ behaviour on Twitter in Israel, the paper adds to the knowledge about the way journalists in Israel use social media in their work. The author also tries to reveal more about the potential of social media to influence the relations between journalists and politicians in Israel and to understand to what extent Twitter is used by journalists as a pluralistic platform.

    The topic matches also the scope of Online Information Review, which is devoted to research in the field of digital information and communication, as well as related technologies. It can interest the journal’s audiences, as it addresses some of the areas on which the journal focuses, such as online communities, social networking, and social media, including online political communication.

    Previous articles in the Online Information Review have discussed several aspects of the use of social media, some also focused on Israel. More specifically, an article by Aharony (2012), for example, focuses on the way political leaders in Israel use Twitter. The current paper adds another aspect on patterns of the use of social media, as covered in this journal, but this time it focuses on journalists in Israel. Additionally, the previous related papers were published several years ago, and the field of social media and its influences is dynamic and changes rapidly.

    The topics and issues which are discussed in the paper might concern citizens and policy makers, and by doing so, the paper demonstrates not only theoretical contribution but also social relevance (Gerring, 2001; Gerring and Yesnowitz, 2006). Nevertheless, it is recommended that the contribution of this paper will be stated more clearly.

    Relationship to Literature: Does the paper demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources? Is any significant work ignored? Is the literature review up-to-date? Has relevant material published in Online Information Review been cited?: The paper provides a detailed literature review on topics related to the research questions. First, it presents existing studies on the relations between journalists and politicians. It continues with the work of journalists and the profession of journalism at the area of social online networks. Then, there is a short review about Twitter, journalists on Twitter, and relationships between journalists on Twitter. Finally, it explains what Neo Marxism is, an approach which will be used in the paper.

    Although each part of the review includes sub-titles, and it attempts to reflect the author’s chain of thought, the logic behind the structure is not clearly shared with the reader. It is recommended to add short introduction and conclusion to each part of the review, to explain the way the author moves from one part to another. This will form more coherent, “tighten” structure, and will help the readers to follow the paper’s arguments.

    In some parts, the review leaves the reader confused about previous findings and their implications. A clear distinction should be made between the existing literature about relevant topics in which the paper discusses, and the gap that it tries to fill. For example, some of the studies which are cited in the review (Laor and Galily, 2020; Canter & Brookes, 2016; Hedman, 2016; Lasorsa et al., 2012; Dror, 2011) seem to cover some of the aspects which the current paper addresses; but there is no clearly-stated conclusion about the current paper’s added value. This kind of distinction should lead to the research questions, (and later in the paper - the findings should be compared to previous studies).

    The review demonstrates an adequate understanding of the relevant literature in the field and cite an appropriate range of literature sources. However, additional theories and significant literature which are related to the topic and concepts which are used throughout the papers can be added. Examples for such literature would be about agenda-setting theory, hegemony, echo-chambers, but not only. One of the aspects which is discussed in the paper is the online conversation between the elites. Since the author focuses on the relations between politicians and journalists, the research of Elbaz, and Golan-Nadir on elites in Israel, as well as the work of Wolfsfeld on political communication in Israel could be helpful here.
    Another work which can be relevant to the paper’s topic is by Ayala Panievsky, a journalist herself, who studies the relationship between media and politics in the age of social media.

    If possible, facts about the use of Twitter in Israel, such as number of users (vs. other social media platforms), patterns of uses, and some demographic characteristics will give more validity to the paper’s main arguments about journalists-politicians discourse on this platform. This detailed information is not always available, but would be good to have, if found. Some information about the percentages of user of Twitter amongst journalists is mentioned in the discussion, but it seems that it should be shared at an earlier point of the paper.

    The review about journalism in the age of social online network (pages 4-7) touches issues of personalisation and professionalism. For example, it is mentioned in page 5 that “journalists' activity on Twitter has problematic aspects as a result of Twitter's role in disseminating opinions (Lee & Kim, 2014), which somewhat contradicts journalists’ professional role as objective information providers (Lasorsa et al., 2012).” This focuses the paper on a specific type of journalism. However, many journalists sometimes do express their opinions, both in social media and traditional platforms. Therefore, it is recommended to add brief explanation about the range of journalists’ roles or styles, and the focus on the informative aspect of their job. This can be done, for example, when discussing the journalists’ work.

    Further explanation is also needed about the connection between previous research projects about public relations professionals (page 4, lines 14-31) and the current research. Otherwise, that paragraph can be removed.

    The research questions should be presented in relation to the literature review – either at the end of it or before. Additionally, after reading the literature review, the findings and conclusion, it seems that the questions should be rephrased to be more focused, and to emphasize the added value of this study. The first question, “What is the nature of journalists’ work on Twitter?”, can be more focused if it specifically mentions Israel. Otherwise, more information is needed for the reason for choosing this case study, and whether the findings can be relevant to other countries. The question can also include the specific aspects which the interviews address. The second question, “Does Twitter function as a pluralistic platform with agenda-setting potential?”, seems to be too broad, and it seems that the findings and conclusion has not fully answered it. It should be rephrased to be more focused.

    Methodology: Is the paper's argument built on an appropriate base of theory, concepts or other ideas? Has the research on which the paper is based been well designed? Are the methods employed appropriate and fully explained? Have issues of research ethics been adequately identified and addressed?: The methodology which was chosen to answer the research question is Semi-structured in-depth interviews with 18 journalists, to “to examine journalists’ perceptions of their use of Twitter and the relationships they maintain on this platform” (page 9). The study focuses on three topics related to the patterns in which journalists use Twitter in Israel: how journalists conduct themselves on Twitter; journalist-politician relationships on Twitter, and relations with other journalists on Twitter. The journalists were chosen by the number of their followers (over 10,000 followers) and the frequency of their activity in Twitter (at least three tweets a week).

    The criteria for choosing the journalists by their level of exposure is relevant, as the aim is to learn about the discourse and its influence. However, evidence is needed for the author’s argument that “As exposure increases, the likelihood of interactions with politicians and with other journalists also increases” (page 9).

    However, further clarification is needed for selecting the participants based only on those criteria. The information on the journalists who were interviewed is incomplete. In the paper’s abstract it is mentioned that those journalists are leading journalists working in traditional media and are active on Twitter in Israel. Additional information is required, to answer questions such as: Do they represent different media organizations? Do they represent minorities or different groups in the society, or only the hegemony? Journalists working on tabloids, broadsheets, TV, Radio? Were there also independent journalists among the interviewees? Which topics do those journalists cover? Did the questions cover both “hard” and “soft” news? How were the interview conducted? Sharing additional information can strengthen the validity of the results.

    As the selected journalists have more than 10,000 followers, it would be useful to add some information about their audience. In other words, with this scale of exposure, the followers probably include not only politicians and media professionals, as the author argues, but also the general public. Further information can be gained also by asking the journalists themselves.

    Further justification regarding the chosen methodology is also required. There should be an explanation to preferring semi-structure interviews with journalists to answer the research question, over alternative methodologies, such as analysis of social media content, network analysis, or interviews with additional actors such as politicians or other Twitter users.

    It is important that the author mentions that the interviewees were told that their names would be changed in the report of findings to protect their privacy. From the information provided in this part of the article, it seems that the journalists who participated the interviews agreed to take part in the research and understand its context. However, it will be good to mention it, to show that the study complies with research ethics.

    Further information is also missing regarding the questions asked in the interviews, and their connection to the research question. For example, how will information about the relations between journalists be relevant to study about pluralism? Is it because it leads to a discourse between elites in the society? And even if there are close relationships between them, additional clarification is required, as it does not necessarily mean that the discourse on Twitter is not pluralistic.

    Results: For empirical papers - are results presented clearly and analysed appropriately?: The chapter of the result is divided into three parts: the first part focuses on credibility and professionalism of journalists on Twitter. The second part addresses the question whether journalists feel free to express their personal opinions in Twitter or feel obligated to post only content which is aligned with their news organization. Finally, the third part discuss the potential of Twitter as an agenda-setting tool. While all parts together try to answer the research questions, it is recommended to add a brief introduction to the chapter, including an explanation about the way the results are presented, to guide the reader through.

    When addressing the issue of credibility and professionalism, some journalists admitted that there is some compromise. However, while some admitted that level of credibility has decreased, other argued that it either depends on the journalists, or that the credibility has been actually improved. While discussing credibility of the sources, especially in the context of politics, it is important to notice that many politicians share statements on their personal social media page, sometimes even before they turn to traditional media, if at all. Therefore, social media can serve as a credible source of information, as anyone can easily check the politician’s official page to verify a quote.

    The interviewees were also asked about deleting or correcting content they published in social media. Most of them stated that if they were asked by politicians to do so, they would not delete tweets, unless they were convinced that their tweet was incorrect. Otherwise, they will negotiate with the politicians about their steps. It is worth mentioning that although deleting a tweet is easier, still social media is not the only platform where journalistic mistakes are being corrected. This happens occasionally in printed newspapers. Even during live broadcasting on TV, reporters would correct themselves, if they reported inaccurate information or expressed problematic remarks. This finding about correcting content ((i.e., correcting mistakes online might be easier, etc.)

    The second part focuses on the question, to what extent journalists feel free to express their personal opinions in Twitter, without being subject to their professional supervision. The title “More of the same: Similarities between Twitter and traditional platforms” could be confusing in this context, as it does not accurately reflect the findings in this part.

    One of the author’s conclusion is that “Informal editorial oversight affects the spirit, character, and content of messages that journalists feel are appropriate for posting on Twitter and probably trigger self-censorship that causes journalists to conform to the news organization’s official position”. In this context, it is worth exploring previous findings about self-censorship of the Israel media, as it might enrich the discussion about this finding. Additionally, the result might be different for independent journalists.
    The current research is based on interviews with journalists working on traditional media and are active on Twitter in Israel. The author cited a study, according to which journalists from prestigious news organisation tends to publish content which maintain the status quo (page 4, lines 7-13). Therefore, it could have been interesting to interview also independent journalists, who are not affiliated with the mainstream media which reflects the hegemony.

    As one of the journalists testifies, most journalists on Twitter would avoid from attacking other journalists, which may lead not only more collegiality and unity among journalists, but also to a lack of criticism and sycophancy. As it is mentioned earlier in the findings, close relationships between journalists in both private and professional lives, exist also in traditional media (Donsbach, 2004). Therefore, additional explanation can be useful here. Moreover, does this necessarily mean that this situation unifies the discourse itself? Perhaps it just becomes more respectful? Those are issues which need to be addressed, either as part of the findings or the discussion.

    The third part of the results focuses on the potential of Twitter as an agenda influencing tool. The study finds that most of the journalists feel that Twitter influences public agenda. They argued that they are a part of a limited group on this platform, which is consisted of public opinion leaders and decision makers. As one of the journalists claimed: " if there is a major event on Twitter, it changes the agenda." (Page 18). The journalists’ intuition may be right, but here this argument can be stronger if it presented examples for events or cases which were first published on Twitter and influenced agenda, legislation, public opinion, etc. It would be also good to mention that the discourse on Twitter does not always start, remain, or ends on this platform. Many times, there is a “leakage” of information and trends between the platforms, which makes it even more difficult to estimate the level of influence. Therefore, examples can be useful in this context. In any case, as long as there is no strong empirical evidence for the influence on the agenda-setting, it is recommended to refine the conclusion and emphasize that the level of influence is based on the journalists’ perception.

    Another question following the findings regarding the use of Twitter as an agenda-setting tool, is about the actors on Twitter. According to Journalist Liam (Page 18), who is confident of Twitter’s huge impact: "Every tweet has a huge impact […] The public is not on Twitter, but the decision makers and the people we work with are there: the people who make the policy, whether it's in the government, in the Knesset, in the police, or the military. Everyone is on Twitter. " It is also mentioned that the journalists who participated in the interviews has more than 10,000 followers. Are all of them decision makers? Adding some information about the audience, as much as possible, can better inform us about this topic.

    Even if the majority of the public is active on Twitter, and even if it serves as an arena for journalists and politicians, still the conversation between them is open to everyone. In that sense, the agenda-setting process becomes more transparent and accessible to all. This was mentioned also by several journalists in the current research who argued that “unlike the Knesset corridor, Twitter is public” (page 19), and that "Political journalists tweet and receive immediate reactions, including from other politicians, and then it becomes a continuous public discourse, one journalist tweets and the other responds" (page 20).

    Unlike random discussions in the Knesset corridors, conversations on Twitter can not only seen by all, assuming the existence of digital affordability, but they also have the potential to make the agenda-setting process to more pluralistic and democratic. The process is not only more transparent but has the potential to be more interactive and more open to negotiation from the public point of view. In the paper itself a study by Johnson (2009) is mentioned, according to which “Twitter transformed journalist-politician interactions because the discourse on Twitter exceeds the circle of one’s close friends, and added an additional layer of discourse with a wider audience” (page 19). Moreover, as mentioned before, many of important discussion on Twitter are being quoted on Facebook as well, where they are being seen by higher percentage of the wider public.

    According to one of the journalists (page 19), “Twitter connects me to politicians I didn't know before and strengthened my relationship with them. They use my tweets to advance their agendas and I use what they do in response to my tweet. There is a kind of collaboration here that Twitter simplifies. I mean, my relationships with a lot of Knesset members developed through Twitter." Good relationship between Journalists and the people who they cover is not necessarily a bad thing, if the relations stay professional. Moreover, if this platform facilitate collaboration between journalists and less familiar politicians, who do not always enjoy media coverage, perhaps because they are from the opposition, or because they represent minorities, this can actually increase pluralism. Another quote of a journalist (page 21) also seems to portray the collaboration between journalists and politicians in a way that does not sounds necessarily negative: "The politicians use us to promote their agendas, and if we are covering something and we use them to promote [our] news stories. That is, after we publish it they try to take the story or create a different picture, and then they somehow try to offer a solution to the issue that we brought up, so it’s really a fruitful mutual discussion”.

    Taking in consideration the journalists’ responds in this study, and a previous study which is quoted in the findings, it seems that the final conclusion of the author/s is not fully consistent with the finding, or at least can benefit from a better explanation. Sometimes it seems that the journalists’ responses include opposite views, but the conclusion is only based on part of the findings. A better clarification, or editing is needed.

    Finally, sometimes the connections or differences between the results and previous studies can be improved to make it easier for the reader. In cases when the results are consistent with previous studies, it would be good to mention it and explain this consistency. In cases when the findings contradict previous results, it is needed to clearly state that and suggest explanations to the differences. This can be done also in the next part, in the conclusion.

    Discussion/Argument: Is the relation between any empirical findings and previous work discussed? Does the paper present a robust and coherent argument? To what extent does the paper engage critically with the literature and findings? Are theoretical concepts articulated well and used appropriately? Do the conclusions adequately tie together the other elements of the paper?: The summary of the paper discusses the main findings about journalists’ practices on Twitter, regarding three main aspects: credibility and professionalism, freedom of expression, and Twitter as an agenda setting tool. Overall, the author’s main conclusions are connected to the findings and the research questions. However, it can be presented in a better organised and clearly stated manner for the reader.

    The discussion firstly addresses the findings about the voluntary self-regulation of journalists, and it is recommended to maintain the same order throughout the paper’s parts, to make it easier for the reader to follow. The author’s argument in the last sentence of the first paragraph is not clear enough: “Being adapted to journalistic norms, Twitter reinforces journalists’ professional identity (Larosa, et al., 2012).

    when concluding the findings about credibility and professionalism, the author states: “Furthermore, unlike traditional platforms, Twitter allows journalists to correct and /or delete a tweet. As mentioned before, journalists who work in traditional media can also correct their mistakes. A further clarification is needed here.

    Then the author addresses the issue of Twitter as an agenda-setting tool, starting with information about the use of Twitter by journalists: approximately 75 percent of journalists in western society maintain a Twitter account (Hanusch, 2018). It seems that this figure should be presented also in the literature review, to explain the choice of the research questions and their importance in the context of journalism in the age of digital social networks.

    Another argument which requires further clarification is the last part of the sentence in page 22: “Although Twitter is a public platform, Twitter members comprise a "guild" of journalists and politicians who exchange opinions, thus set agenda, with Twitter acting a tool for decision makers in media organizations”. It is not clear how Twitter functions as a tool for decision makers in media organizations, and who are those decision makers? The journalists themselves? Their editors? Additional explanation is needed.

    Another conclusion of the author (page 22) is that “journalists in the current research noted very little interaction with the "common people," and reported that their activity on Twitter was comprised almost exclusively by interactions among journalists and between journalists and politicians.” This information was not communicated clearly as part of the findings, and if it was said as part of the interviews it should be added to the previous part.

    The author refers to the finding, according to which “journalists bonding with each other and reinforcing each other’s opinions”, and concludes that “homophily is also reflected on Twitter and as a result, journalists become even more disconnected from society”. This conclusion can be rephrased more cautiously, as even if journalists agree which each other, still – different journalists can bring different stories and represent different voices in the society. From this point of view, Twitter can serve as a platform where one can find stories which did not appear in traditional platforms. Moreover, if there is unification of the discourse, it is worth mentioning that this is something which exists also in other platforms and connecting it to existing literature.

    One of the conclusions (page 22) is that “public's opinions remain largely unheard on Twitter, which allows journalists to continue uninterrupted to set and control the agenda, sometimes in a manner that is disconnected from the issues that are important to the public“. This conclusion seems to place Twitter at the same role of traditional media. Nevertheless, politicians and journalists are also part of the society. Politicians are supposed to represent the public and journalists can sometimes mediate between the two groups. Therefore, will a conversation between journalists and politicians necessarily not be pluralistic? If the politicians, journalists, and the discourse itself are pluralistic, then the conversation between them can also reflect opinions of different groups in the society. If it is not pluralistic, perhaps it means that it only reflects the level of pluralism in the society. Moreover, both politicians and journalists can be connected to the public not only online. Professional journalists should not base their work only on the information and interactions on online networks.

    Finally, as mentioned before, Twitter provides opportunities to interact with journalists and politicians, and perhaps even to take part in the agenda-setting process. Even if most of the public does not use this opportunity, as Twitter is not the main social media platform in Israel, still the Twitter’s scene includes not only journalists and politicians, but also other actors, such as NGOs, activists, etc.

    Implications for research, practice and/or society: Does the paper identify clearly any implications for research, practice and/or society? Does the paper bridge the gap between theory and practice? How can the research be used in practice (economic and commercial impact), in teaching, to influence public policy, in research (contributing to the body of knowledge)? What is the impact upon society (influencing public attitudes, affecting quality of life)? Are these implications consistent with the findings and conclusions of the paper?: The paper identifies the main implication of the findings on society as a less pluralistic discourse in Twitter, and disconnection between journalists and politicians and the wider public. The study has the potential to be the basis of further research or suggest recommendations which will bridge the gap between theory and practice. This can be done also by emphasizing it contribution either to the existing literature or to the society. The discussion should include answers to questions such as the following: Could this study be generalised to other societies? Other social media platforms? Can the findings be used to influence the journalistic professional discourse, relevant regulations, or public policy? Obviously, the current paper will not necessarily be able to fully answer those questions, but those ideas can be at least presented.

    Quality of Communication: Does the paper clearly express its case, measured against the technical language of the fields and the expected knowledge of the journal's readership? Has attention been paid to the clarity of expression and readability, such as sentence structure, jargon use, acronyms, etc.: Overall, the paper is readable and expresses its case, taking in consideration the expected knowledge of the journal’s readership. However, some of the arguments required several readings, either because the author’s intention is not clear enough, or because of the sentence’s structure. This can be improved by minor stylistic amendments or by adding further clarification. Some examples for those cases are:

    • Page 3, lines 25-32: Therefore, to reconcile multiple sources of information, journalists must perform an information verification process, which is designed to protect journalists from the ambiguity of the information and their own suspicions about the information source — in this case, the politician. In fact, information verification is a test of the trust/suspicion relationship (Mancini, 1993) – the last sentence of this argument is not clear.

    • Page 5, lines 52-56: “However, journalists' activity on Twitter has problematic aspects as a result of Twitter's role in disseminating opinions (Lee & Kim, 2014), which somewhat contradicts journalists’ professional role as objective information providers (Lasorsa et al., 2012).”

    • Page 11, lines 39-48 – the paragraph is not clear, and even seems irrelevant.

    • Page 13: “However, this opinion seems to be related to journalists’ motivation for self-branding: The same journalists who stated that they are in favor of expressing personal opinions on Twitter are the same journalists who express their personal opinions in the traditional media as well, and vice versa. More experienced and conservative journalists indicated that they were careful not to post personal opinions on Twitter”

    • Page 15: “Journalists felt that it is important for others to understand that a journalist who tweets in their professional account and is a member of a media organization, is the same journalist who tweets in their private accounts on Twitter, and therefore the two platforms must be aligned and harmonized. Harmonization could be reflected in the use of a proper register and similar ideas both in the journalist’s broadcast and in their personal Twitter account.”

    • Page 17, line 29-34: “Although it might be assumed that multiple opinions are represented on Twitter, due to the rapid increase of Twitter’s use in recent years, in effect the opinions on Twitter represent a small group of the population, mainly politicians and journalists, which is why Twitter’s role in the public sphere is limited rather than broad (Lee & Kim, 2014). The sentence is too long.

    Additional stylistic amendments are also required to avoid use of jargon, gender-biased language, and to make sure the language is either more neutral or accurate:

    • Avoid Jargon: Although we can assume that the readers of the Online Information Review have prior knowledge about media work, it is still better to avoid terms related to the profession, such as: PR professionals (public relations).

    • Gender-bias language: “These ties can promote the journalist’s career and help him differentiate himself from other journalists” (page 3 line 15)

    • More neutral language: “In summary, this theme indicates that some journalists are under the illusion that they are not subject to supervision when they use Twitter.”

    • Refinement of title and language accuracy: the title “journalism in the age of social networking” will be more accurate as “digital social networking”

    Decision letter by
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    Reviewer report
    2020/10/15

    The paper is interesting and demonstrates theoretical and social relevance. Sometimes the editing and the presentation of the arguments create confusion, and it is recommended to amend it in a way which will enable further guidance for the reader. In some cases, more information or explanation can be helpful as well, to make the arguments stronger and to address potential critique. My recommendation is to accept the paper after minor revision. Please see the full review for more details.

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    Reviewer report
    2020/10/08

    This paper is based on in-depth interviews with leading journalists that are active on Twitter in Israel and aims to (1) describe the characteristics of journalists' activities on Twitter and (2) research whether journalists make use of Twitter’s potential as a pluralistic platform.
    Although the issue is quite interesting I believe that the paper needs some major revisions. In my opinion this paper mostly repeats and reaffirms already known findings and theories. This is evident also in the fact that almost every finding is consistent with previous researches that are also quoted and referenced in the discussion section. Perhaps the finding that most of journalists in Israel do not take at all into consideration people’s tweets is of some importance but the paper needs to further focus on this issue, expand on it and present it as its main contribution to theory.
    Also, I think that the paper needs more context on the media landscape of Israel since we are provided with minimum information about it.
    With regards to its structure, I believe that it should begin with the “Journalism in the age of social networking” section and then engage with the rest of the sections. Also the sub- heading would be much improved if more context and analysis was added, in contrast to its current form (for instance “Twitter”, “Journalists’ work” etc).
    Regarding the method used, I would like to read more details and information on the way that these interviews were designed, and specifically on the way that the participants were chosen. I certainly believe that the methodological part could benefit from more in depth explanation since there are still some issues that remain unanswered, such as how many journalists were approached in the beginning? We only learn that 18 responded but I wonder whether this number is actually representative. Also, I believe that the research questions need more clarification and explanation. For instance, the first RQ “What is the nature of journalists’ work on Twitter” seems to be further analysed under the prism of (1) credibility of reporting, (2) relationship with politicians and (3) relationship with audience. Also, the second RQ “Does Twitter function as a pluralistic platform with agenda-setting potential?”, should be rephrased to clarify that it is based on the interviewees’ personal opinions.

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