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Monday, 15 March 2010

Blogs in the State of the Media report

The annual report written by the Project for Excellence in Journalism on the state of the American media has the following to say about blogs:
  • "The stories and issues that win the most attention in blogs and on Twitter differ substantially from the mainstream press.
  • "Between the two social media platforms, Twitter users strayed the farthest from the mainstream press. Blogs were a bit more traditional, at least in the sources they drew on.

  • "On both platforms, though, one clear characteristic was the ability of new media to quickly trigger and concentrate passionate debate and activity around a specific issue."
  • "In the 47 weeks studied during 2009, blogs and the mainstream press shared the top story just 13 times. The storyline shared most was the U.S. economic crisis (five weeks in all)."
  • "Blogs often filled the role adding analysis or debate when highlighting these stories. Following the shootings at Fort Hood, for instance, bloggers linked to straight news accounts, with some then expressing condolences to the families of the victims, while others quickly pivoted to discuss the role that the suspect’s religion may have played.

  • "In many other instances, the blogosphere mirrored talk radio, parlaying the story of the day into heated political arguments."

The report also suggested that "bloggers shared the mainstream press’s interest in public affairs, but through a much more opinionated lens", and that traditional journalistic outlets still did most of the original reporting. The vast majority of links on Twitter and blogs went to straight news reporting (86% and 83% respectively).

Researchers found that the lack of original stories on citizen news sites was due to a lack of resources. Often these sites were publishing less than one new story a day on average.

The PEJ research chimes with some of the concerns expressed by a few journalists that I have interviewed who have told me that blogs do not reliably provide them with new information.

More generally it seems blogs and traditional media (in the U.S.) have settled down to some extent and are undertaking separate roles in the mediasphere, largely co-existing rather than directly competing.

There are notable exceptions of course and it's not entirely clear what the project made of complexities such as a blog that sits on a traditional media website.

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