Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blogs & Twitters & The MSM

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, like the Nieman Journalism Lab, is engaged in a number of very cool projects trying to understand the various interactions between new and old media. Their latest research attempts to ascertain:

What types of news stories do consumers share and discuss the most? What issues do they have less interest in? What is the interplay of the various new media platforms? And how do their agendas compare with that of the mainstream press?

On the question of Interplay, the news is rather bad for bloggers out there hoping to crash the news cycle: media tend to home in on stories that get much less attention in the mainstream press. And there is little evidence, at least at this point, of the traditional press then picking up on those stories in response. Across the entire year studied, just one particular story or event – the controversy over emails relating to global research that came to be known as “Climate-gate” – became a major item in the blogosphere and then, a week later, gaining more traction in traditional media.

Well, the article only considers one mechanism by which a blog story might get "picked up" in the MSM: there is a frenzy of activity over an issue in the blogosphere--a "blog burst", to use the lingo; MSM reporters look around and see a bunch of outraged or faux outraged bloggers all writing on the same topic, and they think: "Hmm! If it interests them, it must be interesting to a broader population!"

I think more often, though, a story might appear on a single blog, or a small group of blogs, and then be seized upon by an MSM outlet not for its raw prominence, but because whatever reporter stumbled over the piece thought it had intrinsic news interest. Since the resultant MSM piece would not typically acknowledge the earlier one or two blog postings, a connection between the two realms would not be noticed by the Pew Research project's methodology.

Like this story, perhaps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, SwiftHack[1] might look like it "came" from the blogosphere, but I think that's only because the blogs are an integral part of the news story itself. Consider this: the cracker put up the "A miracle has happened" message on Climate Audit, then tried to hijack RealClimate, and when that failed he went over to the Air Vent and other blogs to post the URL. It's simply impossible to give a full account of SwiftHack without dragging some blogs into it.

[1] New personal motto: There is no Climategate, there is only SwiftHack.