Roles and digital identities on Twitter and Instagram: An ethnographic study of Chilean journalists


  • Claudia Mellado Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaí­so. Escuela de Periodismo


Palabras clave:

Twitter, Instagram, Social media, Social networks, Journalism, Journalists, Journalistic roles, Digital identity, Journalistic identity, Promoter, Celebrity


On the basis of a digital ethnography and in-depth interviews with Chilean journalists, this study analyzes how news professionals reinterpret and redefine their professional roles on Twitter and Instagram through their practices and discourse, building different digital identities. The results of our analyses show that Twitter and Instagram strengthen and render a more complex construction of journalists´ digital selves, allowing them to build a multi-dimensional identity that goes beyond the framework defined by the media in which they work through the performance of emerging and more traditional roles: (1) the service role becomes a resource for creating community-oriented identities and for helping to resolve individuals´ everyday challenges; (2) the celebrity role supports the construction of an identity that plays with distances and social status, distinguishing and differentiating the journalist from others; (3) the promoter role allows them to promote their work and that of their media outlets as well as products and services, which generates a material benefit and gives the practices an instrumental meaning; and (4) the joker role allows them to entertain the audience and engage in a playful and critical way of observing the world through humor, irony, and sarcasm. Journalists make these roles compatible and decide which they want to use depending on their target audience and the specific platform used, validating certain practices and media strategies. In the case of Twitter, we observe a reinterpretation of traditional practices, and on Instagram we found a clearer redefinition of journalistic roles.


Los datos de descargas todavía no están disponibles.


Airoldi, Massimo (2018). "Ethnography and the digital fields of social media". International journal of social research methodology, v. 21, n. 6, pp. 661-673.

Bossio, Diana (2021). "Journalists on Instagram: presenting professional identity and role on image-focused social media". Journalism practice, first online.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Harvard University Press. ISBN: 0674212770

Brems, Cara; Temmerman, Martina; Graham, Todd; Broersma, Marcel (2017). "Personal branding on Twitter. How employed and freelance journalists stage themselves on social media". Digital journalism, v. 5, n. 4, pp. 443-459.

Brewer, Marilynn B. (2001). "The many faces of social identity: implications for political psychology". Political psychology, v. 22, n. 1, pp. 115-125.

Broersma, Marcel; Graham, Todd (2013). "Twitter as a news source: How Dutch and British newspapers used tweets in their news coverage, 2007-2011". Journalism practice, v. 7, n. 4, pp. 446-464.

Canter, Lily (2014). "Personalised tweeting: The emerging practices of journalists on Twitter". Digital journalism, v. 3, n. 6, pp. 888-907.

Canter, Lily; Brookes, Daniel (2016). "Twitter as a flexible tool. How the job role of the journalist influences tweeting habits". Digital journalism, v. 4, n. 7, pp. 875-885.

Carlson, Matt; Lewis, Seth C. (2015). Boundaries of journalism: Professionalism, practices and participation. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 978 1 138020672

Casero-Ripollés, Andreu; Feenstra, Ramón A.; Tormey, Simón (2016). "Old and new media logics in an electoral campaign the case of Podemos and the two-way street mediatization of politics". The international journal of press/politics, v. 21, n. 3, pp. 378-397.

Castañeda, Linda; Camacho, Mar (2012). "Desvelando nuestra identidad digital". El profesional de la información, v. 21, n. 4, pp. 354-360.

Davis, Aeron (2009). "Journalist-source relations, mediated reflexivity and the politics of politics". Journalism studies, v. 10, n. 2, pp. 204-219.

Deuze, Mark (2007). Media work. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN: 978 0 745639253

Deuze, Mark; Witschge, Tamara (2020). Beyond journalism. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN: 0745643426

Donsbach, Wolfgang (1995). "Lapdogs, watchdogs and junkyard dogs". Media studies journal, v. 9, n. 4, pp. 17-30.

Donsbach, Wolfgang; Patterson, Thomas E. (2004). "Political news journalists: partisanship, professionalism and political roles in five countries". In: Esser, Frank; Pfetsch, Barbara (eds.). Comparing political communication: theories, cases and challenges. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 251-270. ISBN: 978 0 521535403

Duffy, Andrew; Knight, Megan (2019). "Don´t be stupid: The role of social media policies in journalistic boundary setting". Journalism practice, v. 13, n. 8, pp. 961-965.

Eide, Martin; Knight, Graham (1999). "Public-private service: Service journalism and the problems of everyday life". European journal of communication, v. 14, n. 4, pp. 525-547.

Ferrucci, Patrick; Vos, Tim (2017). "Who´s in, who´s out?: Constructing the identity of digital journalists". Digital journalism, v. 5, n. 7, pp. 868-883.

Filimonov, Kirill; Russmann, Uta; Svensson, Jakob (2016). "Picturing the party: Instagram and party campaigning in the 2014 Swedish elections". Social media + society, v. 2, n. 3.

Giddens, Anthony (1998). Modernidad e identidad del yo: el yo y la sociedad en la época contemporánea. Madrid: Pení­nsula. ISBN: 84 8307 037 5

Gil de Zúñiga, Homero; Diehl, Trevor; Ardèvol-Abreu, Alberto (2016). "When citizens and journalists interact on Twitter. Expectations of journalists´ performance on social media and perceptions of media bias". Journalism studies, v. 19, n. 2, pp. 227-246.

Goffman, Erving (1981). La presentación de la persona en la vida cotidiana. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. ISBN: 978 950 5182008

Hallin, Daniel C.; Mellado, Claudia (2018). "Serving consumers, citizens, or elites: Democratic roles of journalism in Chilean newspapers and television news". The international journal of press/politics, v. 2, n. 1, pp. 24-43.

Hayes, Rebecca; Carr, Caleb; Wohn, Donghee (2016). "One click, many meanings: interpreting paralinguistic digital affordances in social media". Journal of broadcasting & electronic media, v. 60, n. 1, pp. 171-187.

Hedman, Ulrika (2016). "When journalists tweet: disclosure, participatory, and personal transparency". Social media + society, v. 2, n. 1.

Hedman, Ulrika; Djerf-Pierre, Monika (2013). "The social journalist: embracing the social media life or creating a new digital divide?". Digital journalism, v. 1, n. 3, pp. 368-385.

Hermida, Alfred (2010). "Twittering the news: the emergence of ambient journalism". Journalism practice, v. 4, n. 3, pp. 297-308.

Hermida, Alfred (2013). "#Journalism: reconfiguring journalism research about Twitter, one tweet at a time". Digital journalism, v. 1, n. 3, pp. 295-313.

Hermida, Alfred; Lewis, Seth C.; Zamith, Rodrigo (2014). "Sourcing the Arab spring: a case study of Andy Carvin´s sources on Twitter during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions". Journal of computer"mediated communication, v. 19, n. 3, pp. 479-499.

Hermida, Alfred; Mellado, Claudia (2020). "Dimensions of social media logics: mapping forms of journalistic norms and practices on Twitter and Instagram". Digital journalism, v. 8, n. 7, pp. 864-884.

Hine, Christine (2000). Virtual ethnography. London: Sage.

Holton, Avery E.; Lewis, Seth C. (2011). "Journalists, social media, and the use of humor on Twitter". Electronic journal of communication, v. 21, n. 1/2.

Holton, Avery E.; Molyneux, Logan (2017). "Identity lost? The personal impact of brand journalism". Journalism, v. 18, n. 2, pp. 195-210.

Howard, Judith A. (2000). "Social psychology of identities". Annual review of sociology, v. 26, pp. 367-393.

Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press. ISBN: 0 8147 4281 5

Khamis, Susie; Ang, Lawrence; Welling, Raymond (2016). "Self- branding, "˜micro-celebrity´ and the rise of social media influencers". Celebrity studies, v. 8, n. 2, pp. 191-208.

Klab, Nina; Wellbrock, Christian-Mathias (2019). "When journalists become stars: drivers of human brand images and their influence on consumer intentions". Journal of media economics, v. 32, n. 1-2, pp. 35-55.

Lasorsa, Dominic L.; Lewis, Seth C.; Holton, Avery E. (2012). "Normalizing Twitter: Journalism practice in an emerging communication space". Journalism studies, v. 13, n. 1, pp. 19-36.

Lego-Muñoz, Caroline; Towner, Terry L. (2017). "The image is the message: Instagram marketing and the 2016 presidential primary season". Journal of political marketing, v. 16, n. 3-4, pp. 290-318.

Lomborg, Stine (2013). Social media, social genres: Making sense of the ordinary. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 978 0 367867232

López-Rabadán, Pablo; Mellado, Claudia (2019). "Twitter as a space for interaction in political journalism. Dynamics, consequences and proposal of interactivity scale for social media". Communication & society, v. 32, n. 1.

López-Rocha, Sandra (2010). "Nethnography in context: Methodological and practical implications of virtual ethnography". The international journal of interdisciplinary social sciences, v. 5, n. 4, pp. 291-301.

Lynch, Karen-Dana (2007). "Modeling role enactment: Linking role theory and social cognition". Journal for the theory of social behaviour, v. 37, n. 4, pp. 379-399.

Maares, Phoebe; Hanusch, Folker (2020). "Exploring the boundaries of journalism: Instagram micro-bloggers in the twilight zone of lifestyle journalism". Journalism, v. 21, n. 2, pp. 262-278.

Márquez-Ramí­rez, Mireya; Mellado, Claudia; Humanes, Marí­a-Luisa; Amado, Adriana; Beck, Daniel; Davydov, Sergey; Mick, Jacques; Mothes, Cornelia; Olivera, Dasniel; Panagiotu, Nikos; Roses, Sergio; Silke, Henry; Sparks, Colin; StÄ™piÅ„ska, Agnieszka; Szabó, Gabriella; Tandoc, Jr., Edson; Wang, Haiyan (2020). "Detached or interventionist? Comparing the performance of watchdog journalism in transitional, advanced and non-democratic countries". International journal of press politics, v. 25, n. 1, pp. 53-75.

Marshall, P. David (2010). "The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media". Celebrity studies, v. 1, n. 1, pp. 35-48.

Mellado, Claudia (2015). "Professional roles in news content. Six dimensions of journalistic role performance". Journalism studies, v. 16, n. 4, pp. 596-614.

Mellado, Claudia (ed.) (2021). Beyond journalistic norms: Role performance and news in comparative perspective. London: Routledge. ISBN: 978 0 367561291

Mellado, Claudia (2022). "Digital journalistic cultures on social media". In: Allan, Stuart (ed.). The Routledge companion to news and journalism (2nd edition) (in press).

Mellado, Claudia; Hermida, Alfred (2021). "The promoter, celebrity, and joker roles in journalists´ social media performance". Social media + society, v. 7, n. 1.

Mellado, Claudia; Hermida, Alfred (2022a). "A conceptual framework for journalistic identity on social media: How the personal and professional contribute to power and profit". Digital journalism, v. 10, n. 2, pp. 284-299.

Mellado, Claudia; Hermida, Alfred (2022b). "Performing the self on social media: mapping emerging journalistic roles on Twitter and Instagram". In: ICA Annual conference, Paris, May.

Mellado, Claudia; Ovando, Auska (2021). "Periodistas y redes sociales en Chile: transformación digital y nuevas formas de visibilidad y creación de identidad". Palabra clave, v. 24, n. 2, e2422.

Molyneux, Logan (2015). "What journalists retweet: Opinion, humor and branding on Twitter". Journalism, v. 16, n. 7, pp. 920-935.

Molyneux, Logan; Holton, Avery (2015). "Branding (health) journalism". Digital journalism, v. 3, n. 2, pp. 225-242.

Molyneux, Logan; Holton, Avery; Lewis, Seth C. (2018). "How journalists engage in branding on Twitter: Individual, organizational, and institutional levels". Information, communication and society, v. 21, n. 10, pp. 1386-1401.

Molyneux, Logan; McGregor, Shannon C. (2021). "Legitimating a platform: evidence of journalists´ role in transferring authority to Twitter". Information, communication & society, first online.

Negreira-Rey, Marí­a-Cruz; Vázquez-Herrero, Jorge; López-Garcí­a, Xosé (2022). "Blurring boundaries between journalists and tiktokers: journalistic role performance on TikTok". Media and communication, v. 10, n. 1, pp. 146-156.

Newman, Nic; Dutton, William H.; Blank, Grant (2012). "Social media in the changing ecology of news: The fourth and fifth estates in Britain". International journal of internet science, v. 7, n. 1, pp. 6-22.

Nielsen, Rasmus-Kleis; Ganter, Sarah-Anne (2018). "Dealing with digital intermediaries: A case study of the relations between publishers and platforms". New media & society, v. 20, n. 4, pp. 1600-1617.

Noguera-Vivo, José-Manuel (2013). "How open are journalists on Twitter? Trends towards the end-user journalism". Comunicación y sociedad, v. 26, n. 1, pp. 93-114.

Olausson, Ulrika (2018). "The celebrified journalist: Journalistic self-promotion and branding in celebrity constructions on Twitter". Journalism studies, v. 19, n. 16, pp. 2379-2399.

Pasti, Svetlana (2005). "Two generations of contemporary Russian journalists". European journal of communication, v. 20, n. 1, pp. 89-115.

Pérez-Dí­az, Pedro-Luis; Planes-Pedreño, José-Antonio (2021). "La (re) presentación del periodista en Twitter: claves para la construcción de la identidad digital profesional". Estudios sobre el mensaje periodistico, v. 27, n. 4, 1175.

Rosen, Jay (1996). Getting the connections right. Public journalism and the troubles in the press. New York: Twentieth Century Fund Press. ISBN: 0870783858

Sacco, Vittoria; Bossio, Diana (2017). "Don´t tweet this! How journalists and media organizations negotiate tensions emerging from the implementation of social media policy in newsrooms". Digital journalism, v. 5, n. 2, pp. 177-193.

Smith, Lauren-Reichart; Sanderson, Jimmy (2015). "I´m going to Instagram it! An analysis of athlete self-presentation on Instagram". Journal of broadcasting & electronic media, v. 59, n. 2, pp. 342-358.

Steensen, Steen (2011). "Online journalism and the promises of new technology: A critical review and look ahead". Journalism studies, v. 12, n. 3, pp. 311-327.

Stępińska, Agnieszka; Jurga-Wosik, Ewa; Adamczewska, Kinga; Selcer, Bartłomiej; Narożna, Dominika (2016). "Journalistic role performance in Poland". Central European political studies, v. 2, pp. 37-52.

Tandoc Jr., Edson C.; Cabañes, Jason-Vincent A.; Cayabyab, Ysa M. (2019). "Bridging the gap. Journalists role orientation and role performance on Twitter". Journalism studies, v. 20, n. 6, pp. 857-871.

Tandoc Jr., Edson C.; Vos, Tim P. (2016). "The journalist is marketing the news". Journalism practice, v. 10, n. 8, pp. 950-966.

Van-Dijck, José; Poell, Thomas (2013). "Understanding social media logic". Media and communication, v. 1, n. 1.

Westerman, David; Spence, Patric R.; Van-Der-Heide, Brandon (2014). "Social media as information source: Recency of updates and credibility of information". Journal of computer"mediated communication, v. 19, n. 2, pp. 171-183.

Westlund, Oscar; Ekstrí¶m, Mats (2018). "News and participation through and beyond proprietary platforms in an age of social media". Media and communication, v. 6, n. 4.

Willnat, Lars; Weaver, David H. (2018). "Social media and US journalists: Uses and perceived effects on perceived norms and values". Digital journalism, v. 6, n. 7, pp. 889-909.

Xia, Yiping; Robinson, Sue; Zahay, Megan; Freelon, Deen (2020). "The evolving journalistic roles on social media: Exploring "˜engagement´ as relationship"building between journalists and citizens". Journalism practice, v. 14, n. 5, pp. 556-573.

Zelizer, Barbie (1993). "Journalists as interpretive communities". Critical studies in mass communication, v. 10, n. 3, pp. 219-237.



Cómo citar

Mellado, C. (2022). Roles and digital identities on Twitter and Instagram: An ethnographic study of Chilean journalists. Profesional De La información Information Professional, 31(4).



Artí­culos de investigación / Research articles