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Twitter: A self-promotion tool for mainstream media

According to a new study conducted by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, 93 percent of news outlets only tweet links to their own sites.

How did news outlets link out to Twitter?
How did news outlets link out to Twitter?
Pew Research/George Washington University

Who said Twitter was about sharing and promoting content owned by others?

According to a new study from Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs, the vast majority of mainstream media outlets--93 percent--don't even consider sharing another news organization's content on Twitter. Just 1 percent of the more than 3,600 tweets examined by the researchers in February contained links to a competing organization's Web site.

"This behavior resembles the early days of the Web," the researchers said in a statement discussing the stingy media outlets. "Initially, news organizations, worried about losing audience, rarely linked to content outside their own web domain. Now, the idea is that being a service-of providing users with what they are looking for even if it comes from someone else-carries more weight.

"It bears watching whether Twitter use for mainstream news organizations evolves in this same way," the researchers continued.

The news organizations the researchers studied, which included the Washington Post and New York Times, among many others, also failed to use Twitter as a news-collection service. In fact, just 2 percent of the tweets were designed to gather "nature-seeking views or first-hand accounts from readers."

But perhaps there is a good reason for that. Over the last few years, Twitter has quickly become the place where users are breaking stories, beating out some of the top news outlets around the world. For example, when Osama bin Laden was killed earlier this year, a Twitter user in Pakistan tweeted a live blog of what was unfolding--long before major news outlets reported on the news. But it's not just major events. Whether it's celebrities or prominent political figures, just about everyone is taking to Twitter to share their news first.