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Pew: Traditional Media a Primary Source for Bloggers 25 May 2010

Posted by pamkahl in Reflection, Trends.
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Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism just came out with a new report this week that indicates traditional media still provides the vast majority of information leveraged by the blogosphere.  During a 29- week period Pew tracked news stories that appeared in traditional media and blog activity within the top social networks (YouTube, Twitter and Facebook).

Not surprisingly, it was found that news-oriented blogs were the most similar to mainstream news sites in terms of the topics covered.  However, bloggers tended to pick up and run with controversial topics worthy of opinionated “conversation” such as same-sex marriage, changes to the healthcare system and privacy on Facebook.   Bloggers also gravitated to different source outlets for different topics.  Newspapers were frequently the sources for stories about politics and government – 44% of those stories linked from USA Today were on this topic, 34% for the Los Angeles Times, 28% for the Washington Post and 19% for the New York Times.   Fully 87% of the stories linked to were straight news accounts from traditional media, compared to only 13% of opinion columns (most of the opinion column links came from the Washington Post).

BBC News was the most popular source overall, constituting 23% of the total links studied.  CNN and BBC were the most often linked sites for foreign news topics.  The Washington Post was the key source for stories related to US Government and politics and the New York Times was more often linked to for business and economics news (28%).  The New York Post was the traditional rag of choice for celebrity bloggers.   And lastly, Fox was the sole source for domestic defense and military news links, accounting for 11% of all Fox News links and 100% of all U.S. defense stories.

Conventional wisdom says that the blogosphere is going to eventually crush traditional media and make it obsolete.   But these statistics indicate bloggers need the traditional media as a vehicle for engaging the masses and driving traffic to their sites.  Traditional media outlets have demonstrated a willingness to embrace the blogosphere.  It might be nice for the blogosphere to acknowledge the important role traditional media plays in its collective success.

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